Wow, This Class Wasn’t as Bad as I Thought
Those were the last words I heard out of one of my freshman before they headed out after their first class of the year with me.
Pretty crazy to think that I have been in a completely new city, house, school, and way of living for over 3 weeks now, and that before that, I was living at Green Thrills for 2 weeks of ASC Summer Orientation with 16 strangers who all decided to take a similar path this year.
Moving to a new city where I knew no one, and moving in with two strangers seemed like the craziest idea in the world, until I got here, and the first thing I saw on the ride home from the airport was the most unexplainable view of the mountains as the sun was setting. (Then my cohort members gave me the master bedroom, and I was sold).
I am constantly surrounded and overwhelmed with new faces, new tasks, new beautiful places, and, of course, new eats. I definitely would not be able to do this new place and year of growth without the people who started it with me, and a lot of coffee. Together we have shared so much joy, honesty, laughter, hope, faith, and reassurance as we continue to embark on this journey of a lifetime together. I am already having extreme separation anxiety from these amazing people, but I have so much love in my heart as they tell me the stories from their first weeks at their schools.
Then ,as Riley, Sam, and I embarked on our first day on the beautiful campus at Regis Jesuit High School (Denver, CO), that has a killer view of the mountains, it was a little overwhelming to say the least. It was a Wednesday, which meant it was Chick-fil-A day, as we quickly learned. The girls were all either walking down the halls in fear because they had no idea what high school was about to be like or walking with extreme joy beaming off their faces as the girls greeted each other as if they hadn’t seen one another in a year. Then there was me, who was not yet used to the idea of being introduced as Ms. Daly.
Then, first period, first day, I was asked to substitute, and to be honest, the idea of going into a classroom and handing them an assignment for the day doesn’t seem too intimidating, until you are actually in a room full of freshman girls who just stare at you blankly no matter what you say to them. Then I taught my first freshman health class to the girls (who don’t like Adele as much as me by the way). There was a definite feeling of being a “fish out of water” all throughout the first day, but there was also this undeniable feeling of excitement and anticipation for the next class with those students, following a class that began with blank stares as it slowly turned into an open space for laughter and a million questions.
There is something that feels just right teaching freshman this year, as they are basically in the same boat as me, except I had a little bit of training before hand, and I’d like to believe I mastered high school once before. Then there was our first moment together, where I told them “okay, I know I’m just a sub for you all today, but you need to put your phones away because I see you Snapchatting,” then two girls turn to me and go “Nice, you definitely got them”. I would call that a little bit of consolation knowing that we’re all on each others team this year. There is no I, everything is a we, we’re all in this together, whether it is me and my class, the faculty, the other new Ignatian Educators, God and I, or in my community with Riley and Sam.
For me, this year is about meeting people where they are. It is about the students first, then the curriculum. It is about being there for people no matter where they are coming from and being intentional about it. It is about reflection and sharing. It is about learning from the people around me and also learning from my mistakes. It is about acknowledging anxieties and fears and using them to better the things around me.
A common fear among teachers the first weeks is definitely knowing every student’s name and getting to know them, but that first time you get to say “Hey So and So! ” in the hallway, this act helps beat that anxiety any day. There are so many graces present this year and I could write a list that goes on forever.
For now my biggest graces are my students, coworkers, and community. They are what make this year go ‘round. This year will be made by the people, not the place. The people are what make Regis Jesuit so great, and the people are what built up our community of ASC 26. Everything we are doing is because of someone else who inspired, drove, or taught us. There is no way to explain the ah-a teacher moments you feel within your class, but I would have to say for now, hearing something as simple as this class wasn’t that bad, or getting a “goodbye, have a good weekend” from a student even when she is around all her new friends, feels pretty darn good.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds this year at Regis Jesuit High School (Denver, CO). I can’t wait to see how a co-divisional school grows together. I can’t wait to see how God plays a role in everything and everyone. I can’t wait to see how my students grow and learn. I can’t wait to reconnect with my ASC 26 family. I can’t wait for more dinners with the whole Denver crew: Juliana, Will, Riley, and Sam. I can’t wait to go to our first mixer and football game in another week. I can’t wait to see more mountains and hit up new coffee shops. Lastly, I can’t wait to continually grow and be inspired by the people around me every single day in this new home of ours.
So in the wise words of my freshman girls, “This isn’t too bad after all.”