Although this is the second consecutive year that I‘ve decided not to make any concrete New Year’s Resolutions, I came back to France from the USA knowing that I needed to take better care of myself. I realize I do not remember much of anything about September-November of this past year; I was completely and utterly overwhelmed and knee-deep in work, trying to figure out what and how I needed to successfully do my job (the severe lack of blog posts is also a subtle indicator.)
I hated the fact that I was struggling (way, way more than I ever let on on this blog)– most notably with classroom management and with putting concrete plans and objectives into place for seven different levels. I hated admitting to myself that although I’ve had a wide-range of teaching experiences and I am a certified teacher, my new position was an entirely new ball game that required an entirely new and different set of skills. On top of everything else, there were a number of things in my personal life that needed mending and tending to.
At Le Dandy, a new favorite spot of mine in Lille
Over the Christmas holidays, I spent some time speaking in-depth with a few fellow teachers (most notably, my aunt, aka an AP English teacher who knows her shit; and a former-teacher-now-friend who is now a principal) about my new position and the areas in which I felt I was floundering. I was looking for creative ideas, feedback, and perhaps a bit of reassurance. Needless to say, I came back feeling better about everything- I had a few concrete ideas (most notably- Socratic Seminars, DOL-style bell work for my most difficult classes, writing more thorough lesson plans, and a bit more confidence in myself).
Globally, I feel that my teaching and my classes have been going notably better this term; I had a very successful observation by the Head of School; I feel supported by fellow staff and parents; and I finally have a better sense of routine and time management. I’m trying to force myself to go to bed earlier and to not feel so guilty about not having finished everything that needs to be finished. Even better, I’ve made some really good friends through my new job, and I am feeling more and more confident in front of students and in the classroom. I’m continuing to see a bi-weekly therapist and find that I’m making progress in many areas. However, the one thing I do need to integrate back into my life is exercise- I feel so much better when I exercise but unfortunately I’m not doing nearly enough of it.
American Day at work with my friend/colleague, Paul
Trump’s inauguration and everything that has happened since then has put me into a state of both hopelessness and hopefulness. My heart was so heavy and full seeing so many people participate in the Women’s March on Washington, but Trump’s streak of executive orders and bans have had me in a slump. I couldn’t attend the Women’s March but I did call my Republican Senator to express my distaste for Trump’s visa ban on seven predominately Muslim countries. I gave a donation to Planned Parenthood in response to Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, and I am staying active on Twitter. I am also trying to do a lot of lessons with my students about today’s current events. I don’t feel as though I am doing my part 100%, but I’m trying to do what I can for now. I plan to take part in sending a post card to my senator’s and continue giving monthly donations to Planned Parenthood.
In regards to what’s in store for 2017: As of now I’m signed on to continue teaching at the same international school in Lille next year (and, as long as I don’t do something terribly awful, for as long as I would like). Otherwise, I have plenty to look forward to- I’ve booked tickets for both Harry Potter and the Cursed Child AND Hamilton in London; there are a ton of excellent movies due to come out in the near future (most notably: La La Land, Beauty and the Beast, and Hidden Figures); I’m attempting the new Pop Sugar 2017 Reading Challenge and I’ve joined a English-speaking BOOK CLUB in Lille. I’m seeing my bank account grow (a bit), my student loans go down (a bit), and am hoping to do a bigger international trip this coming summer. For the moment I’m feeling better about France and Lille and the life I’ve created here. I cannot say for certain where I will be in two, three, or five years time, but I’m looking forward to continuing to grow, right here, for a little while longer, and not being afraid of getting too comfortable.
I hope to continue connecting with many of you in 2017.
Wishing you all a fabulous start to the new year! If there are any specific topics or posts you would like to read about in the near future, please drop me a comment or send me a message on social media.