New school, new district, new state, new region. I was hired at the end of May and moved to Connecticut the end of June. In mid to late July, I started my attempts to contact my new high school to get information about my new position. What is the curriculum? Who am I teaching it with? What are the school's expectations?
My first teaching job saw me getting hired only one week before students rears hit chairs in my classroom. As a rookie teacher lacking in experience, I found that extremely intimidating and overwhelming. I was excited that for my new position, not only would I be bringing six years of experience, but also that I would have most of the summer to prepare.
My calls to the high school rang without being answered. I stopped by the high school once to seek out someone who would help me. Upon entering the building, I felt I should've been wearing a hard hat. There was heavy construction throughout much of the building. The offices were gutted. Besides the gruff looking workers, I couldn't find any administrators or anyone else in the building to help.
This week I started the "Teacher Academy" for new hires. School starts next week Thursday, and I was excited to get in and finally get some information on my curriculum and who I'll be teaching with. As a fairly experienced¹ teacher this time around, I felt I still had plenty of time to effectively prepare for the school year. Arriving at the "academy" on Wednesday, I was dismayed to find no time set aside to find our rooms, go over our curriculum, or meet the colleagues we'll be teaching with. In fact, there was no official plan at all for getting the new teachers access to our rooms, curriculum, or colleagues.
We were all told all about the district improvement plans, the data teams that meet to help improve instruction, and on, and on. The district's plans for improvement sound really good. I'm excited that they've made a serious commitment to make their schools highly effective for the students. But...how could they possibly overlook the fact that we haven't even seen the curriculum yet? I've seen my room once. I have a textbook for the classes I'm teaching only because one happened to be laying around and I took the initiative to snag it. The only reason I've accomplished either of these things is because a few of the high school new hires got together and more or less "demanded" a meeting with someone at the high school to give us a clue what was going on.
My favorite quote of the entire teacher academy, in response to my (and others) inquiries into what scope and sequence the teachers teaching the same class as me use:
Don't worry, take some deep breaths. All you need to do is make it through the first two days of school, then you have the long weekend to figure out what to do next. Remember, whatever happens, you'll get paid every two weeks in American dollars.
O.K. I've ranted enough, and I'm sure you've gotten the point by now. I am excited to work in this district (really!). I'm excited that this time around in a new position I have skills to bring to the table. I sincerely hope the lack of foresight I've seen so far is localized in the central administration and isn't systemic. To look for the positive in the situation, I've already overcome my fear of questioning the status quo and have learned that I may need to make a more conscious effort to push for change in this district. All I want to do is be the best teacher I can be for my students, my colleagues, my school, and my district. I sincerely hope that desire doesn't fly in the face of the professional culture here.
I just want to be like Akeelah, an achiever.
- Common, "The Game"
¹ If you consider six years as having much experience