#DITL – June 8th

This is my final monthly post for the Day in the Life series of the 2016-2017 school year. Enjoy.

Today is Thursday June 8th. Since May, I’ve accepted a new teaching position in a different district at a title 1 school in Scottsdale Arizona. Over two-thirds of the staff are new to the school for the next year, so they are having pre summer training and today is the last day for that pre-summer work.

5:30 – Wake up and read for 40 minutes. Summer is an amazing thing since I don’t have to rush to prepare anything for the morning. After, I got ready for work and left my house at 7:35.

7:50 – arrive at school and head to the meeting room. I’ve intentionally been sitting with new people every day to try to meet as many people as possible and today was no exception. I join a math teacher, even though I’m teaching a ninth-grade transition course instead of math.

8:15 PD Begins by some of the veteran staff in the building sharing the traditions and clubs of the school. Coronado High is the largest school I have taught in by at least 300 students and have traditions and school spirit unmatched. I really appreciated hearing about what happens on campus and what they have valued before. I know that with so many new faces finding ways to get all the teachers on the same page with the school culture will be essential in the coming year.

8:55 – Our next session begins on PLCs and setting norms for those. We started with another whole school ice breaker, since our facilitator was new to us for the day. I was hired after the first day of PD a week ago so this was a nice chance to hear a little bit about some of the staff while they heard a little about me. we got dove into setting norms. What I know could have taken 20 minutes tops took us over an hour – the most frustrating part of the week.

10:00 Technology training. My new district has numerous tech coaches and they came into give us training on various online resources to implement in our classes in the fall. Two big problems from my perspective: 1) No one has yet described the technology available and how frequent we’ll have access to it so I have no idea how much is feasible to plan with 2) I don’t have an employee ID because I was hired a week ago and haven’t yet talked to HR so I don’t have a laptop, access to any district websites or the ability to use the wifi at the school…so I followed along on my phone but that’s as much as I could interact.

 

11:30 PD Ends. I get my classroom keys and go check out my room. It has two whiteboards, a window, carpet, a half-circle table and a phone. Oh, the “luxuries” I’ve not had in forever/ever. In that never category, this will be my first year with a phone in my room and real whiteboardsIt’s the little things, y’all. I noticed that there’s a ton of storage too – which will be so nice instead of my last system of boxes on boxes in the back corner. However, there were only a dozen to twenty desks and my classes will certainly be larger than that. I’ll check in with maintenance after summer school and the year begins.

12:00 I stopped by the library because the staff had donated new shirts for new teachers to have and wear on spirit days (a super kind gesture). After finding one from a golf tournament 4 years ago, I checked in with the librarian who gave me the low down of the history of the school, what technology we have and the resources that were used in the transition class before. This conversation was super enlightening about the context I’l be entering, but wish everyone had heard AND that it was earlier in our week, instead of initiated by me on my own time.

I left campus and grabbed a quick snack for lunch (I was planning on heading home but instead talked to the librarian for a little too long to make that happen)

1:00 I met with my principal – who is also new to the school. He and I talked about the course and what curricula was used before, the vision for the transition course, and his long term vision for students. We think that in the past this course was not taught with fidelity and students weren’t helped as much as possible in their transition into high school. We’re hoping that my experience and work on this will push more students to be supported and successful in their first year in high school.

I headed home and took a nap, because it is summer.

4:00 I started mentoring with the local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter and went to their office to pick up tickets for a baseball game on Sunday. I then headed to the mall, walked around in their glorious air-conditioning and watched Wonder Woman. I think it is one of the, if not the, best super hero movie out 🙂

7:45 I arrived at home, ate dinner and the next episode of The Handmaid’s Tale. I tried to coordinate an outing with a couple former students the next day – but planning with teenagers is like herding cats. When I went to bed we still didn’t have a strong plan but we’ll figure it out tomorrow morning.

9:30 Bed time 🙂

Reflection Questions:

1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day.  Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming.  When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of?  What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?

My proudest moment today is choosing to put myself out of my comfort zone by sitting with new people and chatting with the librarian so early in my tenure. I could have done the easy, comfortable thing and stuck by myself but I know that isn’t what is best for me at my new school.

 

2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows.  Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher.  What are you looking forward to?  What has been a challenge for you lately?

Next week I’m headed home to see family and friends – and I coordinated to stay through Father’s day. It’ll be the first time our whole family is together in a long time for that 🙂

My biggest challenge was securing my new job. I found a lot of doors closed to me because I don’t have a masters and was looking to get out of the classroom. I know that I am capable of doing any of the jobs I applied for – but I’m not a competitive candidate on paper. Even though this next opportunity will be good, it isn’t perfect.

3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is.  As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students.  Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.

I think my strongest moment was intentionally seeking out and listening to the librarian. Her stories and knowledge will definitely be a resource this coming year. I was so relieved that she was so helpful.

4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year.

Now that the year is over let’s see what happened with these:

  1. Survive with four preps, and do a good job for our students.
    1. I did not survive well enough and feel good enough about my future work environment to stay at my previous school. Even though spring was better than fall, I checked out in an attempt to recover and take back the time I had lost.
      Grade: C I think it isn’t my fault because I’m not superman and you had to be to get something more than this.
  2. Close lessons to summarize student thinking
    1. I did this a little more over the final weeks of school, but still need to intentionally plan this daily.
      Grade: B- When I did it, closure helped students. It just didn’t happen enough or be routine enough to help students as much as possible.
  3. Continue to increase student engagement and cognitive workload
    1. My evaluator thinks I do this well. I don’t see it but maybe I have much higher expectations for myself. Maybe if I were to see another classroom on a regular basis I would be able to give myself a better grade/performance evaluation
      Grade: B It happened according to the outsiders, but in my own eyes it could have been more.

5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?

I wrote this at the end of my March 8th post:

I keep debating if I’m meant to be in this profession much longer. I keep waffling, but I have recently decided I’ll be back for year six. Much beyond that is about finding a way to make this career sustainable because right now it is not.

I wrote this in May:

All the problems I had in this job were solvable and created by poor leadership decisions at a district level and a toxic political environment that has politicians believe that anyone can do this job and that we aren’t worth being paid a living wage. I wonder what would happen if we had well informed legislators making decisions…

Since then, I’ve come to the realization that I had in March – I don’t feel that this profession is best for me. As I decided not to return, I have applied to and enrolled in graduate school at Arizona State University for Education Policy. My bachelor’s degree is in Political Science and I’m passionate about education – this degree and future career path makes much more sense long term than what I’ve been doing. It combines both of my passions into something I think will be much more sustainable for me long term. Teaching is so important – you have the future in front of you every day and I take that call sometimes a little too seriously for my own good.

I think this year has been an incredibly challenging time professionally – which impacted me so much personally to the point that I was neither healthy or the person I wanted to be. Once I get my degree in two years, I’ll be leaving the classroom. My dreams for the past 11 years weren’t to be a teacher – they were to be a policy wonk. Time take my own advice – I’m beginning to follow my dreams and see where they lead.

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