Seven Years Treading Water

I just* finished my seventh year of teaching.

I’ve gotten in the habit of taking time each summer to to reflect on the school year. It’s been valuable to look back and see growth in myself. I would encourage any new teacher to journal through their first year (at the very least) just so that later on, when things feel particularly crazy, you can look back on the craziest times to see just how far you’ve come. (That’s also why Educating Esme was an important read during my first years of teaching.)

*Normally I do this before the end of August, but not this year. Still… it’s important to look back, even as I am already looking forward and planning for the coming year.

I’ve been at four different schools now, including my one year in Spain, and the longest I was at one school was three years, so my experience of teaching has been a string of fresh starts. Even within those short stints at each school, being a Specials teacher has also has been an endless cycle of fresh starts and a fair amount of flailing.

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Here’s to more than just survival.

This year brought yet another new school, yet another fresh start, and new lessons to learn: Read more of this post

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Postcards from the Mitten State

I often lug my camera around, but I am really bad at sifting through the results in a timely manner.

I have also neglected this personal blog in favor of a new teaching blog. (Knowing my tendencies to neglect my personal life, this should not be a surprise.)

Spring and Summer were both chaotic and emotional, navigating preparations to move and goodbyes to students, coworkers, friends, and family. (And even while looking for jobs in warmer climates I was aware that other states might not have the same magic of a Michigan Spring.) Here are some snapshots.

Spring Planting Day Read more of this post

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Today my school had our holiday party at a swanky Detroit casino, which was so full of sensory overload that I kept my camera in my bag and ended up leaving early.

Either way, I was feeling more traumatized than festive, after the news about Sandy Hook elementary school trickling into my own school, and trying to stay composed in front of little eyes.

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I teach on the Detroit side of the border – more like a frontier – between Detroit and Grosse Pointe. Winter only intensifies the contrast. The empty lots frost over and the abandoned houses look even more dreary, while two blocks over the houses look like something from a magazine, with Christmas lights twinkling behind unbroken windows.

This building is on Mack, which is one of the dividing lines between contrasting neighborhoods, but one thing that stays the same is the warmth of yellow light through windows in fading grey evenings.

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The Packard Plant… one more piece of my commute.

 

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I stayed late at school today for my last day of tutoring, driving straight home into the setting sun – which filled Detroit with surreal gold light, but made driving a little difficult. I drove behind semis to escape the glare, until an unusually bad snarl of traffic led me off the highway past the now familiar landscape of Grand River, a mix of urban decay and the magic of these walls – broken mirrors full of the sunset.

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This week feels like a crisis, in a lot of ways.

 

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Ran out of gas while leaving work in Detroit and took the wrong exit off the highway. Immediately realized that (a) there would be no gas station here, and (b) if there was a gas station here, I should not stop. Passed through an entire neighborhood of overgrown abandoned lots, broken houses and some listless young faces hanging out on a busted up playground, watching me from the swings.

A friend pointed out that this is a somewhat ridiculous time of year in Detroit, because some people put up Halloween decorations… in neighborhoods where it is just not necessary.

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Dlectricity – electric art installations all over downtown Detroit. It was cold but worth it.

 

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An accidental detour on the way home through a previously unexplored part of Detroit led me here.

 

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