Mrs. Principal officially announced the staffing placements to everyone yesterday. I think a lot of people were shocked that I am in the split. Several asked me if I knew about it. I haven't made it known that I actually originally volunteered to take it if we had one. I took a peek at our numbers yesterday and realize that the split very well could stay a split, even though Mrs. Principal said she thought it wouldn't. I could have 30 students (15 from each grade) and the other 2 fourth grades would be at 30-31 and the other 2 fifth grades would be at 30-31. With budgets being what they are, it isn't unheard of. I had 34 fifth graders last year until right before Christmas break so who knows what will happen. I'm not going to panic about it.
I taught a 4th/5th split my very first year teaching. I was beyond clueless. You know how it is -- you think you know everything and that you're SO ready to be on your own, then you are and realize how much you still have to learn. I know so much more about teaching and learning now than I did then. I did an okay job that year -- my students didn't know any different and they did learn. Now, with what I know about teaching, how the brain works and motivation for kiddos of that age, I am much more prepared to go into a split teaching assignment and kick some behind.
Mrs. 4th Grade got moved to 2nd, in my place, which really surprised me. I had a feeling the other fourth grade teacher would be moved (and she was, to 1st) but I wasn't expecting this. She will be okay there but she's never taught 2nd and is feeling a bit nervous. Mrs. CT told me this morning that she may, in fact, be retiring. Rumors have been flying all year so we'll see. It's fine if that happens. If it does, the chances are that it will be me, Mrs. A, Mr. 4th Grade and two newbies. As long as people realize that I have double the curriculum to handle and am on my own (no TA or Student Teacher), it will be okay. I am already thinking of how I am going to make this work better for me this time around.
Mrs. A and Mrs. 4th Grade are amazingly awesome and let me borrow their Reading Street logins so that I can preview and get somewhat acquainted with the 4th and 5th grade Reading Street stuff. It has already been beyond helpful. I am downloading what I can and will be sketching out tentative plans for myself. I really don't want to have to start Reading Street until the end of September so we can prep for our standardized testing and I can get my students used to the routines in a split class and the transition that comes with teaching a dual grade.
I am really excited though. I have been so back and forth on what I wanted to teach next year and I'm pleased that I am going back upstairs. In talking with a couple of my colleagues, who kind of warn me about the current 4th graders (known as "That Class"), I point out that most of what these kids need is someone to set boundaries. The other 4th grade teacher doesn't know how to set them and she argues with the kids, which fuels the drama. They get snotty with me and I get snotty back and ask them just who the heck they think they're talking to like that. Usually once they realize they aren't going to get away with that crap, they knock it off. It's when the teacher doesn't set the boundary and doesn't get a little sassy that there is trouble.
Mrs. A, who is teaching 5th this year for the first time ever, has some of the "worst" kids from last year. And she has no problem with them. They also had the other 4th grade teacher last year. Mrs. A has boundaries and the kids know what they are and they work with that. She doesn't have to be a huge bitch. I won't have to be either -- I can be if needed, but again, they just want someone to care.
I pointed out to Mrs. Secretary, weeks ago, when all of this stuff first started being talked about that if a kid is having that kind of trouble you have to sit them down and basically ask them what the hell they want (not in those words obviously). Clearly kiddo what you're doing is NOT working so what do you need from me? What can I do to help you? It is uh-may-zing what those kids will say when you just offer to listen. They want stability and boundaries, instinctively. If you're going to argue and put the power on them, you've lost, they will see you as weak and you just screwed yourself big time.
It won't be like that for me. I know how to get down to their core and relate to them. Its why I think people are petrified of middle schoolers -- they don't know how to literally get on their level. I do. I have always been a tough love kind of teacher and with the exception of one class, it has always served me very well. I am sure next year won't be any different.