9/17/12

My New Oasis

I am loving my new job so far.  I feel right at home in this school of over 100 staff where I can easily focus on getting to know the people in my own neck of the woods without feeling pressured to get to know everyone.  I even love the kids, all 65 third graders, who are my main focus for the year.  I am learning who the quiet ones are, who the loud ones are, and who will try to get noticed for anything if we don't notice them for something positive right away.  As for teachers, every one I have gotten to know has different experience and knowledge to share, and I feel like I am in a good place to "hear" them, I am enjoying listening.

 In some ways teaching is like riding a bike, just get back on.  I am feeling pretty confident, and frankly more comfortable than when I was a para just out of college, or even as a twenty something teacher.  Back then I had very little experience actually working with children.  Probably funny for a trained teacher to say, but true.  I didn't get myself into the teaching profession because I had a lot of teaching experience or exposure to lots of children.  I chose it because I thought I could do a good job, because I had ideals (for better or worse) about how it should be done.  Now, I still have ideals, but I know enough to try not to let those block my view of real life problems or issues in the classroom or school.  If I have learned anything in the past few years, it is the age old saying "To assume is to make an ass out of you and me."

Coming into a new school, in a new era, also requires some learning.  Because as much as I have read about issues in education and new innovations and understandings about best teaching practices, the fact is the problems schools are facing right now preclude all that.  For instance even though the common core has been developed and really is full of innovative ideas, the schools in our state are still strapped down by MCAS tests and requirements that may or may not be aligned with Common Core curriculum.  Many schools are really diving into curriculum for math, reading, and writing to ensure a logical progression in instruction.  I can see the benefits, yet wonder and worry a little, what is the point in having a degree in how to develop an integrated curriculum with a focus on upper level thinking skills if we will be handed curriculum to follow?  I look forward to seeing what our classrooms this year look like once we get into the year, because I hear (and believe) it will look different and the procedural piece of the curriculum will give way to more integration.

After all that, I am not sure I have accurately conveyed why I am really enjoying myself so much, despite a crazy schedule for getting the family up and off to schools, and work.  What it really comes down to is the kids.  I just love getting to know them and how they learn.  I love hearing the stories of their lives, the good, the bad and the ugly.  I am fortunate to be working in three classrooms that are using the same curriculum and do planning together.  It is interesting to see how each group of children handles the weeks lessons, and almost more interesting to observe how three teachers make all the same stuff, look and sound just a little different.  I am like the fly on the wall watching to see what works and what doesn't for which kids.  And like the fly on the wall I will never tell :)  because I am not in this position to judge or criticize.  I am here to help, to teach, to watch, to learn, to enjoy. . .

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