I keep thinking I’ll wake up one day and be an adult.
I’m 32. This isn’t the kind of thing a 32 year-old, a teacher going into his 7th year being responsible for shaping our nation’s youth into competent people, should be thinking.
And I’m getting older. A few former students came by Open House last night to introduce their newborn sons. A quick look around at my fellow faculty members reveals that I’m more in the middle of the pack than the fresh-faced kid. No one confuses me for a student anymore. And rather than teaching kids the same age as my siblings, I’m now at a point where I could have a child of my own in high school now, had any girls been interested in making poor decisions with me at 16.
But I still think that I’ll be a responsible adult some day.
Like I’ll have lesson plans complete and submitted on time. I’ll have an accurate log of my collaboration hours at the ready. I’ll use my planning time for something besides walking up and down the halls, wondering what I could be doing. I’ll go the gym on Tuesdays and pack a lunch before I go to bed and drive a reliable car.
It’s hard to face reality, that I already am who I’m going to be. I’ve been, more or less, the same person since high school, only I’m creeping, slowly but assuredly, towards the cold breath of death.
A new school year is always a great opportunity to set some goals, to make improvements upon the previous year. And I’m at a great place to do that. I have a manageable schedule (only three preps instead four!), common planning with fellow American Lit teachers, and very little on the horizon outside of school. I’m in position to establish some routines and good habits that could go a long way. I’m ready to grow up, I guess.
I always try to focus on one thing every year, like Benjamin Franklin perfecting himself, vice by vice. It’s a failed experiment by the end, but being a little more like Ben Franklin is probably better than continuing to be like your stupid self, right? Have you made any scientific or diplomatic breakthroughs lately? No? Then shut up.
But this year, I want to focus on myself. The curriculum, my lessons, my students: they’ll all be fine while I take some time to improve the teacher. That’s me. They sort of need a grown up in front of them, right?
So this is just me breaking down a few areas of desired improvement, trying to see what realistic steps I can take in the right direction.
Item 1: Feeling good.
I had a physical today. I weigh 186 pounds, far more than I did 5-10 years ago. And it’s not because I’ve gained 30 pounds of hair on my head, let me tell you. So I need to take better care of my body. I’d rather not have a heart attack kill me in my 40s, you know? A few ideas:
-No soda at school.
-Pack a decent lunch every day. Which I’m usually good about if I can pack a lunch. I’m much more inclined to pack an apple and carrots than a bag of Doritos. It’s getting up early enough to pack it that’s the problem. Which brings me to…
-Wake up and get to bed earlier. Make time for a small breakfast, some morning writing.
-Get some exercise, fatty. I play hockey, but that’s only once a week, if we’re lucky. Gotta go for a walk, swim some laps at the gym, do sit-ups during Jeopardy!, something. I like it when my pants fit.
Item 2: Getting Organized
-Maintain a to-do list. One for work, one for home. And knock stuff off of them.
-Do things when I get them. I tend to volunteer myself for all sorts of stuff, so long as it’s “later.” Then later comes around, and I never did it. I gotta get over the do-it-later mindset and tackle stuff as soon as it comes in.
-Stop dreaming and do things. I have so many cool ideas in the back of my head, some creative, some professional, etc. Those have to get on the to-do list, too. Gotta execute.
Item 3: Leading
So many times, I think that, if I left my job, someone stupider than me would be doing it, and the nation would suffer. But now that I’m here, I don’t find myself really being worth all that much. I helped start a writing center at school, but it needs so much more energy. Beta Club needs revitalizing, too, and I just don’t really know how to pull off the things I want to pull off. I definitely don’t want to be an administrator, ever, but I would like to be seen as someone worth sharing ideas with, someone who contributes to making the school a better place.
These are the kinds of things I should probably have figured out already. Maybe I’ll know what I’m doing by the time I retire.