Monday, August 24, 2015


Today feels a bit like my last day of freedom. I begin a series of professional development classes tomorrow, have inservice week next week and will have kids back at school the following week. I know that most of you have sent your kids back to school already, but teaching is a funny sort of a job in that every year you feel like you get to start over.

Not from scratch, certainly, but whereas most jobs have a learning curve in the beginning and then you get your groove and move forward, every September feels like this to me. While many things I'm teaching will be the same, each new collection of kids brings it own set of challenges.

What will stay the same:

* Administration. This is good because it means that there won't be that awkward adjustment period to the new boss.
* Professional development. I have mixed thoughts here. The emphasis on teamwork from last year had many positives, but also tied my hands regarding other things. Additionally, the "proof" we need to demonstrate that our kids are actually learning something is very rigorous and number-based. It is a thing that creates hours of extra work for very little value.
* Teachers. I'm on essentially the same teams of teachers as last year and already have an effective, or even good, working relationship with all of these colleagues. I sincerely look forward to continued collaboration and am grateful not to have unknown quantities in this direction.

What will change

* New Building. This has been ongoing, but my classroom (I saw it today) is really mostly finished and very lovely and exciting. Shared lab space will be an interesting challenge to navigate, but my classroom is enormous with delicious amounts of storage. This is very exciting. Dollar store (for containers) here I come!
* Redesigned Class. My Foundations class (basically 9th grade physical science) is being redesigned this year, though not too much. We are in the process of redesigning all our core science classes to better reflect NGSS standards, but cannot really make the change until textbooks are adopted . . . probably around 2017. (What a weird date to write; it sounds so futuristic. What the hell are we adopting textbooks for???)
* Three preps. This is probably driving the title of this post more than anything. Last year I taught Foundations and English 12. This year I'm also picking up biology. To anyone who has ever taught, you will understand the ramifications of three preps at the high school level. And remember, I'm part time. Everybody, apparently, loves me, but they are hoping to kill me at the same time. Ironically, biology is the thing I went to college for, and what I always saw myself teaching, though I haven't done so since 1999. It has taken me a very long time to get back to this place of doing what I love the most . . . and it is vitally important that I hit a homerun here. Our teacher with the most bio sections is retiring next year or the year after and if I'm good, then I'm well-positioned to take his place. Though I only teach ONE section this year (and will put in an extra 5-10 hours a week to make it happen), I have to be fantastic. Trepidation is right.
* Family schedule. I had hoped all would be the same this year, and it will, mostly except for the fact that my boys' twice weekly ride to karate (which I used in lieu of babysitting on those days, basically funding karate tuition with the savings), will no longer be available. This change seems little, but what it means is that, at least until Christmas, I will spend 3 more hours a week in the car and spend an extra $100/month on babysitting.
* Students. They are always so unknown--some amazing and delightful, some difficult beyond all reason, and most in the vast middle. I struggle to inspire the Amazings on to greater things, the Difficults to some semblance of discipline and desire, and the Middles? Mostly I struggle to know them and show them I care for them so that they aren't forgotten. But you never know what you are going to get, and I always struggle to know how to motivate and help them. It is a job where perfect is never really a choice. Knowing that you truly helped a handful is sometimes the best you can do.

But to quote the always great Tom Hanks from A League of Their Own, "If it was easy, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great!"


Sherry said...

So, you could have been my ninth grade biology teacher since I was in ninth grade in 1999. You would have been better than the one I had. I'm 100% positive of that.

And so sorry about babysitting/karate changes. My babysitter is about to move out of state, and I have to find a new one (again). The woes of being a working mom!

Feisty Harriet said...

Wishing you ALL the good luck vibes for back to school!!!