Monday, March 29, 2010

The Future

For once in my life, I find myself not feeling uncertain about the unknown future. My first year teaching, I knew I was going to be laid off at the end of the year because despite busting my butt pulling that class together after two others couldn't hack it, I was just a temporary contract teacher. That was hard for me because I learned so much from those kiddos despite the rough start we had an the ups and downs involved in our classroom. I had worked so hard just to land that job and it felt like it didn't mean anything. Looking back at the sequence of events that followed that year, I realize it did mean a lot to a lot of people, but at the time, I just couldn't see that because I was hurt that I was suddenly job hunting again.

I had such a hard time that summer because I didn't know what was going to happen to me. I didn't know when or where I would get another teaching position although I felt certain that my district would call me again. I've never been good with uncertainty. I like to have a plan and I like to know what's coming down the pipe for me so I can be prepared.

I believe this is one reason why I stuck it out so long in my classroom this year. Partially because, well, that's what teachers do. They make the best of what they are given. I don't blame the kids, not really. I blame their parents. I have long said that if parents had 1/3 of the accountability we had, every kid in our district would be achieving. I am an inner city teacher. It's a tough job and it certainly isn't for everyone. Honestly, before I student taught in the district I was adamant that I would NEVER want to work there. Ever.

Yet, that's where I found my passion. It's where I felt the most comfortable as a teacher. People make comments to me about "inner city" all the time because most people equate that with minorities (and yes we do have a majority of minorities -- that makes sense, right?!). However, as I often say to my students, I don't look at them as white or black or brown. Heck I wouldn't care if they were green with purple spots (or purple with green spots for that matter). I care about them as PEOPLE. But I would be a liar if I didn't say that I have truly found my passion working with the Second Language kiddos. My life is more full because of them, their desire to learn and their exuberance when they finally get it.

I think this is what buoys me right now. Even though the only certainty in my teaching future is that I will have a job and it won't be at my current school, I'm not leery of this. I'm not overly anxious or worried about it. For once, I look toward the uncertain future with a sense of hope. A sense of rejuvenation. I will be able to have some say in where I go due to the bid process we undertake and I am going to focus on lower elementary, specifically 2nd grade. I taught 2nd grade for 3/4 of a school year in 2007-2008 and while I didn't love it, the more I reflect back on it, I believe it was because I started mid-November and had kiddos pulled from 3 other classrooms to make mine. Thus it wasn't a perfect start and due to some assessments going on at the time, we had no choice but to literally jump right in to instruction from the word go.

I hope to get the chance to revisit that. To make 2nd grade be a grade I could love. It would also serve the dual purpose of allowing me to take a break from the standardized testing that we only do in grades 3+. While I would still have some pressure from it as it would be my job to get my class ready for the test in 3rd...the pressure isn't the same. And I truly miss not having that pressure. It makes teaching much more enjoyable when you don't have to fret about some stupid test.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

First Post

In all honesty, I actually created this blog in August 2009 in anticipation of the return to school, using The Daily Five/CAFE model with my 4th graders this year and having the best year ever.

For the first three days of the year, everything was fabulous. I only had 18 students and despite things I'd heard about this group, we had the best start of school that I have EVER had (granted I'm relatively new to the field but still, something to be cheerful about).

Unfortunately, the powers that be in my district are infinitely unwise and pulled me out of my classroom for 4 days the second week of school to attend a leadership academy. Probably 20% of the sessions I sat through those four days were relevant to me. My class went to Hades real quick without me there that second week. Things got progressively worse and I never bothered to write in this blog.

Now, it is nearing the end of March (whoa, how'd that happen?!) and I'm home on a medical leave for the excessive anxiety that I experienced this year due to an increasing number of unruly children, no support from the administration (to be fair *my* administrator who has always supported me went out on a leave in November and things weren't perfect with her there but they got a lot worse once she wasn't). My hands would shake being AT work.

I will spend the remainder of my school year at home on disability and trying to piece myself back together and find the real me again. It hasn't been a picnic. It has truly been horrific. Things I didn't even know were bothering me have crept in and anxiety hits for no apparent reason in the middle of the store or in a parking lot for example. It's quite scary actually. Especially because I don't want this to control my life anymore. I want to get past this and be able to enjoy being a teacher again.

I decided to go ahead and start writing in this blog because even though I am not teaching at the moment, I LOVE teaching and can't imagine doing anything else with my life. Perhaps here I can sort out some of the things that went wrong this year and use that knowledge to make sure it doesn't happen again next year. I know without a shadow of a doubt I will not remain in my current building (my district is huge enough that we have hundreds of internal transfers every year so my request won't be anything unusual, it'll just be one of many). The first posting for fall 2010 comes out on May 3 so at that time I will be able to sift through the openings and get myself excited for a new chapter in my teaching life.