I started the year feeling confident enough, but not prepared.
Every June I swear to myself that I will set aside time everyday to work on curriculum and plan (I go through the same thought cycle every Friday on a smaller scale). Every mid-August, I start thinking something along the lines of frickfrickfrickfrickfrick, where did the summer go? I should have been working a little every day and now I'll have to work a lot everyday and I'll still never be ready. Frickfrickfrickfrickfrickfrickfrick.
I put in the 12 hour days during workshop week to get my room under control and left for the long weekend knowing at least I could put the kids in there without shame. I carried my planning materials back and forth over the long weekend, never looking at them once. Sigh.
The later start to our school day has been glorious for me. I'm actually conscious and prepared (mostly) when my second hour walks in (I have first hour prep). However, the later end to the day has been kicking my rear. With only half an hour of the duty day after school, I haven't been managing to get my planning for the next day done and answering emails, etc., etc. before quittin' time. I don't have any fantasy that I will always, or even frequently, be able to leave on time, but it would be nice to be working shorter than ten hour days and have more than three conscious hours at home before bed time.
Anywho, for the first time in my five-year-and-counting teaching career, I'm loving my job. I quit a committee that was alternately stressing me out and filling me with ridonkulous amounts of rage, which has been a huge load off. I'm planning for my eleventh grade Am Lit class without muttering under my breath about how much I hate early American literature--and actually liking what we're doing. My tenth graders are working with abstract ideas and analyzing them. I like the kids and I think I've finally found my stride; I'm not letting curriculum slip to build relationships, and I think we're really building a community.
In tenth grade English, I've been talking a lot about manners. I told the kids that it doesn't matter if they're nice or not: if they pretend to have manners, they will make life more pleasant for everyone. They greet me when I come in, which I LURV, and the other day I told them that I'm working on actually listening and responding thoughtfully (rather than automatically) when people ask how I am. Later that day, a friend-colleague popped her head in and all the kids greeted her after I introduced her. She was a little startled, and responded, "Why, good morning! How are you?" On cue, with no prompting from me, all 35 16-year-olds responded, "Fine, thank you. How are you?" It was totally glorious!