I’m a good writer.
I don’t know if I necessarily believe the above statement, but I hear it a lot. Before I started graduate school two years ago, most of my experience with the written world had to do not with my own compositions, but bleeding all over the research papers and AP U.S. History essays of my students. Any writing I did consisted primarily of vignettes disseminated through Facebook concerning life as a teacher; I also occasionally contributed to a diary feature called “Teachers Lounge” that ran weekly on Daily Kos. (People who didn’t know me before reading this, you now know which side my toast is buttered on politically.) I’ve been told by numerous people, from my parents to my fiancee to some former colleagues, that I should write a book on my experiences.
I don’t know that my life to this point has been exceptional or interesting enough to warrant a book; I’ve begun to think lately, however, that sharing my experiences may turn out to be useful to some people who come across them. For people who don’t know me that well, here’s a Readers Digest version of my background and what I hope to accomplish by periodically writing here.
I taught at a fairly large suburban high school in the Charlotte area for five years after graduating from UNC Charlotte with a history degree and a teaching license. I met a lot of great students, parents, and teachers, and generally enjoyed what I did until I suffered a major case of burnout and a near nervous breakdown brought on by work-related stress and a severe lack of sleep, a couple of particularly difficult classes, and the feeling that a lot of my colleagues were not working as hard as I was. I taught, I announced sporting events, I coached the quiz bowl team, and did the notorious “other duties as assigned” that many teachers must endure. I had hit the wall before – usually at the end of the year – but this time, I got the feeling that I wasn’t going to bounce back.
I had worked on the side as a public address announcer and official scorer for various college and professional sports teams, so I decided to get an advanced degree in sport administration. My fiancee Jess and I moved to Auburn, Alabama in 2010 and both of us recently got master’s degrees – mine in higher education administration and sport management, and hers in horticulture.
About halfway through my second year of graduate school, I began to realize that I missed teaching and felt that my talents were best utilized in the classroom. I knew I didn’t want to go back to a traditional high school. I wanted a school where kids were motivated and interested in learning; I also wanted to work with fellow teachers and administrators who worked just as hard as I did and bought into a vision for the school. I have found that at my new school, which will open with 160 freshmen in August of 2012 and will eventually serve 420 students in grades 9-12. I was hired as a social studies teacher; as students and parents began to express an interest in athletics, I assumed the role of de facto athletic director because of my experiences in graduate school.
I plan on using this blog as a mechanism for reflecting on the challenges of becoming a “rookie teacher” again (hence the name of my blog, “Second Time Rookie,” suggested by my former student, current dear friend, and elementary school teaching wunderkind Allison). My new gig will involve using technology and cutting-edge “flipped learning” to engage students; I hope I can provide insight and pointers to other teachers who may be looking for ways to make their classrooms more dynamic. I’ll also intersperse humorous (in my opinion) anecdotes about my past experiences in teaching and working in sports.
If this sounds interesting to you, I hope you’ll keep reading my blog going forward. I’ll let you decide for yourself whether or not I’m a good writer.