This time last year I was with a fantastic staff doing a ton of work to set up a new school. I was full of hope and excitement for a new year and new opportunities. And then last year actually happened. And 100% of the teachers from those PD sessions last summer were gone in June.
Now I’m at a brand new school, with a brand new staff, and I’m once again full of hope and excitement. And some deja vu, which brings with it a certain amount of terror. I know that I want to be a teacher, and I know that I could be a great teacher, but I can’t take another year like last year. But after a week of conversations and two days of freshman orientation, I already know this year will be different. Not that I won’t make numerous mistakes, or have my share of late nights, or be stressed out at times (that’s just part of teaching). But I think I’ve found a staff and administration that is willing to catch me when I fall and then lift me back up and come back stronger. We’ve already had a number of conversations about how the rubric they give is a tool, not evaluative. How they want to work with us on our goals and balance out all feedback and help us improve. I’ve already worked with the math department to start planning, and looking over the pre-existing curriculum (Key words being department and pre-existing curriculum). Yet they’re still going to give me some freedom to try some of the zany ideas I’ve gotten from the Math Twitter Blogosphere and Twitter Math Camp 2014. I’m kinda over the moon about it all and I don’t know what to do. Another one of the new teachers, who also came from a bad experience last year, just keeps looking at me like “What the hell? Is this for real?!”
The staff is quick to remind us that they’re not perfect. That there’ll still be days where we’re frustrated and exhausted and worn out. And I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t worried that I can’t live up to their (or my own) expectations. What if this whole “I’m a good teacher” thing is a delusion of mine? What if I’m not rigorous enough, or frankly SMART enough to do all of the things I want to do and still improve kids and make them better? What if all my fears from #TMC14 turn out to be right?
But I’ll say now as I said then that no good can come from that train of thought. So nose down, eyes ahead, and let’s kick some ass.
I leave tomorrow for a two-night retreat with the incoming freshman. I’ve also spent the last two mornings meeting a bunch of the newbies and trying to learn names. This school is so much more diverse than my last, and the kids all seem much better behaved. The other staff keep mentioning kids that don’t “get it”, or that they all struggle with, but I’m dubious that it will compare to where I’m coming from. “What’s that? They’re talking during class? Well they didn’t tell me to go fuck myself, so I got this.” The retreat should be awesome, with lots of end-of-summer upstate outdoor time and some bonding with the students and other staff. Then we come back to a three day weekend where I plan to relax my butt off. Students report next Thursday. Between then and now, I want to put up a goal-setting post and some pre-first-day reflections about some stuff I want to do this year. We’ll see if I get to all that. Either way, I’m off to finally watch Doctor Who from this week.