Monday, August 29, 2011

Mama Goes Back to School--Part 1

I sent my kids back to school last week. And then I went.

Back to school.

It’s been 21 years and I am back in the classroom hoping my brain still functions. Actually I am hoping my brain functions way better than when I was a student at the U of U all those years ago. It had better because there is a lot riding on it this time around.

I have been a little worried lately about the brain thing. I keep asking the same questions over and over and my kids keep answering me over and over. I don’t listen to their responses so I have to keep asking. Here is an example:

“Are we picking up Zack for the game?” I asked.


Five minutes later: “Are we picking up Zack for the game?


Five minutes later: “Are we . . . .”


This resulted in my son telling me I had Alzheimer’s. This only increased my anxiety about returning to school as a geriatric patient who wants to be a high school English teacher.

After forgetting the pressures of school for two decades, I have new respect for my own kids who work hard every day and excel beyond what I was capable of doing at their ages.  How I ever produced such kids is beyond me.

I practically worship the ground my high school senior walks on because she is taking three AP classes, one of which is Statistics. I have a panic attack when I think about anything number-related (ex. I often have to pass the fifth grade math homework off to someone more competent in my family). So the fact that she can take this kind of a class shows her grit and intelligence. It also proves that she has a lot of her Dad in her as far as how her brain works. What a blessing for her.

She does her stats homework and she hasn’t pulled out one strand of her beautiful hair. She just does it.

Today was my first teaching certification class. I felt like my classmates were teenagers. I was old enough to be their Moms, and I told them so. I told them I had a daughter their ages. I hope I didn’t look or sound too matronly. I tried to dress a little bit fashionably, but sometimes when you’re 40-plus those efforts fall flat. My oldest daughter who counsels me in these matters has recently moved out. I got my hair done so there wasn’t a gray hair visible. After pulling myself together as best I could, all I could do was hope.

My class is four hours, five days a week plus homework. Brutal. Its main goal is to weed out people who really shouldn’t or can’t be teachers. Was I going to be one of them? This thought was almost unbearable during the first two hours. The last two hours I settled down a bit.

About mid-way through the class, one student raised her hand and said, “Does anyone else feel like they want to throw up?” This resulted in uproarious laughter.

When I walked out of the class at 11:50, my head was swimming with info and caffeine withdrawal. Sometimes there are major blessings right down the hill. Thank you, Wendy’s.

When I got home I did homework for two hours. An hour of it was spent trying to figure out how to print off a pdf document so the font was big enough to read without a magnifying class. This was a huge effort, and to my credit, I stuck with it until I figured it out. I didn’t wait for more tech-savvy people to come home to help. I did it.

That was a good first step—independence with tech things. No more, “How do you turn on the DVD player?" Life is changing.

Papers, journals, textbooks, annotating articles, (I had to ask my daughter what that was) teaching in the public schools, dressing professionally, resumes, etc. And the real nail biter--exams. This is what my life has become.

And yes to the brave student in class today. I do feel like I'm going to throw up. But you can only throw up for so long right? 


Foster said...

You rock, Ellen! I know you can do it!

Cori said...

Ellen - you crack me up! You can do those teenagers up:)

Lynsie said...

Wow. Good for you, Ellen! You will be an awesome teacher.