Thursday, November 28, 2013

Two Places At Once: I Need A Clone

I moved quite a bit of my stuff in yesterday. Wow, the school is impressive! I'm excited to be there.

I found that the prior teacher left a bunch of stuff behind. Her career as a teacher is over since she is most likely heading to jail, so I guess that's why. I'm having to do some cleaning out while I move in.

The high school wants me to start immediately. Other teachers are planning lessons for the sub and grading papers on top of their own class responsibilities. I'm anxious to get started as well.

But then I haven't left the junior high yet either. I still have an obligation to those students and that school to continue teaching well there and to stay up on my grading.

On the other hand, I need to start prepping and planning for my new job! I'm nervous about coming in mid year. I really just want to jump in and forge ahead, but in order to do that, I need to know what curriculum to plan for. Luckily I'll be meeting with one of the high school teachers next week.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Another Move

I am in my sixth year of teaching. And I have moved five times in those years.

First move: first teaching job, charter school. It was the first year of this school, and the building was still under construction. So, we rented an old elementary school. I was in a portable. I was grateful. There were a few weeks when we weren't sure where our (the middle school) classrooms were going to be. The director was talking tents or dividing the library up.

Second move: the charter school's building was completed for the next school year. I moved with the school into a brand new building and a classroom with windows.

Third move: I wanted to teach the older students. That meant another move into the ninth grade classroom. A room in the shape of a sort-of triangle, and lots of windows.

Fourth move: left the charter school and got hired on to a junior high, a regular public school. Older building, but a whole wall of windows! This was my current position until . . .

Fifth move: which is what I'm currently undergoing. I got a job at a high school with a fantastic reputation with the district. I'm pretty excited about this move and I'm hoping to settle in for a long while here. I haven't seen my room yet. Hoping to have windows.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Camping with Students?

So the brick that broke the camel's back for me at the charter school, was camping with the students.  As the charter school grew, adding a high school, the board wanted all of the high schoolers (9th and up) to go camping with the teachers and principal for the first week or second week of school.

The idea behind it was so that students could and teachers could bond, do some activities to push themselves (ropes courses, etc.) and do light academic work to warm them back up for the school year.

Some good ideas, I guess, but I didn't want to leave my family behind for a week to monitor my students for a full week, round the clock. It was too much responsibility, and I loved my students, but I needed to say goodbye to them at the end of the day.

So that was it, the final element that helped me decide to move onto another school.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Expeditionary Learning: Outward Bound

The charter school I worked at emphasized expeditionary learning. Unfamiliar with this type of education?  You can learn more about it at:

Part of expeditionary learning is getting the students learning outside of the classroom. Our school would take the middle school age students on a hike annually, sometimes more. Now, I normally really enjoy hiking. I grew up on camping trips, hiking around the national parks Of the western US. But hiking with a few hundred students . . . Not my idea of fun. I was worried about the risks of taking that many students out on a hike.

I will say that the times we went we had all teachers and many parent volunteers come with us. Most of the time, things went well and the students were safe. We tackled some challenging hikes, some peaks along the northern mountains of the sate. But there was that one time . . .

I was with a group of students heading up this steep trail and one of my students fell. She wasn't paying attention to the path, looking back and laughing with her friends, acting like a kid. One misstep and she slipped off the path, sliding and falling nearly 30 feet. All I could do was watch her fall. I have never felt more helpless.

I got on my radio and let the other teachers know as I slowly tried to climb down after her. A volunteer and another teacher found us and got down to her before I could. Thankfully, she was alright aside for some cuts and bruises. But I refused to hike that trail with students ever again and my reluctance to take students out hiking increased dramatically.