Monday Blues

As much as I came home feeling rather pleased with my lesson planning last Monday, you could say today was the stark opposite. No, it has nothing to do with the pre-6p.m. darkening of the sky or with my cleaning procrastination. I just feel like a failure. Can I even call myself a teacher?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for pity or anything (although hugs are always welcome), I’m just declaring my overwhelming feelings of inadequate-ness. Some classes zip by, like a car on the highway, while others feel like a car on a dirt road, getting stuck in ditches and having to come out and push to move forward.

There are a few classes I fear more than most, and that every week. A recurring “please no, not this class” dreading feeling. My strongest, despairing “nooo”s come on Sundays and Wednesdays. Today, I wasn’t disappointed. Although I was rather surprised when I got an “oh crap– they’re bored” feeling barely halfway through two other classes. Why does it always feel like they’re never into things I think will be super interesting? (Don’t answer that, I know… Or at least, I have many suspicions.)

All that to say, there are days when reality slaps you so hard in the face you come home and just want to wrap yourself in a blanket and hibernate until better days. This is my self-reminder that it won’t. Not unless I do something to change “it” (whatever that refers to), myself and especially my thought process.

I bet you if I stopped fearing/anticipating/groaning about these “atrocious, monstrously unpleasant” classes, they wouldn’t feel so bad. In fact, why don’t I stop those “I don’t wanna gooo” feelings? I know for a fact just changing your mindset can affect – well, everything. I’ve done it for another class and was shocked when a student shattered my skewed perception of her. So it does work, but implementing that new train of thought requires a lot of effort.

Not any more effort than preparing a good class, but maybe I need some combination of both: confidence in what I have planned, and an open enough mind to be willing to have my world perception changed. I want to be surprised, in the best way possible! The outcome can only be positive, right?

Instead of agonizing over my decision(s) and thoughts of what I should do next year – move, or stay and teach university – I should focus more on the challenges at hand. Live in the ‘now’ rather than the future, or the mistakes of the past. Then maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel slightly more accomplished and worthy than even yesterday.

Fight on,
Ali J.

Monthly Blurb #4

This blurb topic was ironically self-induced (perhaps, on some level, even incepted) while talking with the German ‘assistant.’ She has to teach a new business class this semester and isn’t quite sure what to do with that, especially without knowing (or testing) the level of her students first.

I feel like the original chat (ultra-short) version is funnier, so I’ll be adding it below. I felt like it’d be cheating to post four lines as a blurb, so I made it long.

Warning: silly, nonsensical-ness ahead.

Any comments and/or constructive criticism are always welcome. 🙂

You may feel free to share, reblog, or comment, but please do not steal my words or take credit for them. Thank you. © Alison Juste

Prompt: “I’m supposed to teach them something about ROBOTS?”

The day was as fine as any other. The soothing wind shot through the streets, blasting passersby in its frigid gust of icy rain. My makeshift umbrella – perfectly fine until I’d walked out the door five minutes ago – flapped uselessly in the relentlessly annoying wind bent on frizzing my hair before class. Class! I’m gonna be late!

I ran, as much as I could in these new heels, through the small, empty backstreets until I made it onto campus. Panting and wheezing, I sucked it in as I walked up the stairs, briefly stopping in the teacher’s lounge to grab markers out of my locker. I glanced over the syllabus again, going through my prepared notes at the same time. About to rush off to class, I caught a pale reflection in the window.

My mouth dropped, horrified at the sight. My hair! Damn wind. Deft hands and the magical properties of water refined my looks in a few seconds before I entered class and started, as if nothing had happened.

“In this class, you’ll learn business and work environment vocabulary, and the proper way to address people from different fields and with varying titles.”

Students were students and nodded along, the diligent ones taking notes while the others chatted or texted their way through. It’s not that I couldn’t see them, but rather that I wanted them to notice my pointed stares. For all I knew, I’d been staring at rocks. They could be surprisingly thick.

After covering the basics of workshops and automated machines in the work environment, we had one last topic to fill the remaining five minutes of class. I kept on reading my carefully prepared documents until–

I’m– teach them– about– robots!?

An old, irrational fear bubbled up. One I had thought to have vanquished years ago. The sudden silence caused a few students to look up in confusion. No, they were more likely to check that class had been dismissed early. I could feel my open mouth getting sore, but was unable to unfreeze it at the moment.

“Madame?”

I looked around the room wide-eyed, stopping on the computer sitting peacefully on my desk.

“They’re taking over the world, we’re doomed!”

I could hear the students’ confused buzzing and barely noticed their heads turning, looking around at each other. My heartbeat picked up.

“They’ll kill us all! RUUUUNNNN!!!”

I grabbed my stuff and did just that.

Word count: 404

Original version

“Now I’m supposed to teach them something about ROBOTS?”
*At the end of class*
“And the last topic today… robots.”
*looks around dramatically, at the computer*
“They’ll kill us allllllll! RUUUNNNN!!!”

Teacher, students, school, class… I guess you shouldn’t be surprised given it’s my day job. Still, a silly ending!

All work published is the intellectual property of © Alison Juste. Please do not republish anything from this site without express written permission. Sharing links or reblogging is welcome.

Bingo!

The first week back to school is always hard, for students and teachers. So imagine the speed at which my dedication burst forth, like a cat on a laser dot, when I got less than half my students showing up for the first class. Great start guys, I can feel your determination already!

This week’s lessons were relatively simple, to ease back into a school pace once more – after a much deserved 3 week break. I picked an activity I’d done with my JHS Japanese students, “Answer Me Bingo,” and changed a few answers to make it more challenging. (In case you’re curious, the aim is to get students to create questions that will have me answer with the words/expressions in a box. It’s a fun game, especially for younger students!)

One of my answers was “to get published,” to get a question like “what’s your dream” or more broadly, “what’s an author’s dream?”

If you’ve taught before, you know how vulnerable you can feel when exposing pieces of yourself to students. Why, it’s just like writing! Although the feedback is more immediate and usually visual in class.

So at the end of one class today I had a student come up to me and ask if I was writing a novel. (Warning: paraphrasing myself.) “Why yes, I am! It’s a work in progress.”

We then spent 5 to 10 minutes talking about  how expensive it is to get published, how fierce competition is, and overall how hard writing can be. This student entered a contest where even if her work doesn’t get picked, she’ll get feedback from a panel of judges, and I’m so very excited for her!

I think I’ll always fondly remember this moment and feeling from now on because one ‘silly’ activity and a mere 3 words got a student to open up to me, and about writing! What’s that expression… two birds, one stone? Victory? Nope, today it’s bingo!

With that fruitful tale, I feel slightly more confident in sharing bits of myself with my students, if only for those brief rewarding moments.

Be yourself!
Ali J.

With every new year…

… comes new resolutions.

At least, for a good number of people. But I think I’m just about to give up the “resolutions can only be taken on New Year”‘s philosophy and try to give myself tangible goals instead. Things I can do to improve every day. (Warning: trial mode.) Starting when I wake up, tackling my pile of “oh I have time, I’ll do this tomorrow/later…”

If you share my struggles in shamefully knowing of your procrastination yet failing to do anything to change it, I hope this article can inspire you more than I ever could. But, don’t forget you can inspire yourself!

At the risk of sounding preachy (but certainly not to you, it’s a reminder for myself): if you want something done, no one else is going to do it but you. Especially if you want your story to be written, no one else is going to write it like you want!

With that in mind, I wish all of you a happy, wonderfully fulfilling 2014!

Much love,
Ali J.