Trying to Get Back in the Game

I haven’t posted much here in a long while. My last post detailed the reasons for my last hiatus. I’ll be far less descriptive this time. Suffice it to say, the new job (I guess it’s not so new anymore) doesn’t leave much time for blogging. Or rather, that kind of time is not readily apparent in my schedule; it must be carved out. I don’t know that I’ll do any better this time around, but I do miss writing, so I hope to try.

Year 2 in the “new” school is well underway, and I can already tell a difference. I’m more comfortable with the culture and the personalities, more confident in my interactions with both students and colleagues. I’m also teaching a new course (theology) for the first time this year, which has proven thus far to be invigorating, and I will serve as the head coach of the JV basketball team. All in all, there’s a lot going on.

Last year was a blur, and in some ways, a rather rude awakening. Having spent five years teaching at an all-girls school (and mostly teaching junior and senior girls, at that), I suddenly found myself in classrooms and a dormitory hall full of freshman boys. Talk about a culture shock! As I’ve come to tell people, the difference–in terms of maturity–between an 18 year-old girl and a 14 year-old boy is not four years; it’s about ten! So the past year has been an eye-opening experience, for sure. I’ve been forced to confront my deeply held beliefs about education, and at times, I’ve found some of them wanting. I had grown too comfortable in my previous school, I think, and though there are aspects of that job that I miss quite a bit, I believe that stepping out of my comfort zone has forced me to become a better teacher.

One adjustment–though it comes as no surprise–is the lack of time and mental/emotional distance that comes with working at a boarding school. During the three years that I lived off-campus at my previous school, I was a much better teacher (in the strictly academic sense) because I had more control over my evenings. I could plan more thoughtfully and reflect more regularly on my classroom practice. But the beautiful opportunity (and challenge) of boarding schools is that teaching is rarely defined in strictly academic terms. Over the past year, I’ve found it rewarding to have difficult conversations with students about their lives outside the classroom, and at times, I wonder if those types of interactions will not have a greater impact that what I teach in the classroom. I suspect they might. Despite the adjustment, I’ve also found it rewarding to help boys as they mature into young men. I’m increasingly coming to believe that schools and society are not generally friendly places for teenage boys, and they need help as they learn what it means to be a man. But that’s another post for another day.

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