You heard it here first; I am heading back to the classroom! After a much needed break, I have accepted a 6th grade substitute teaching position until the end of the school year.
When school ended last year in California (and I knew I would not be returning), my heart felt lighter and I was sort of hoping that I would never have to go back. I had a feeling like I had made a mistake in my career choice, and that all the students loans that I had taken out for my undergrad and graduate work were for naught. I was beginning to feel ineffective both at home and at school, mostly at school though. Despite working hard and putting in countless hours at home and at school, each year the kids were performing lower and lower, and the classroom behavior was getting worse. I just wanted out.
I am thankful to have had the opportunity to teach in the high desert of California for as many years as I did. I will always miss the little, twelve-teacher, 4th-5th grade school, where I started my teaching career. I am proud that I was able to be part of the transformation from that era to that of the new 1,200 student, K-6 school that it is now. That being said, our school had a very transient population and we were slowly headed for program improvement (state mandates, few choices, and yucky stuff like that). This change was coming despite the continued dedication, commitment, and effort of the administration and staff. The kids were performing way below grade level, there was very little parent support, and the general attitude towards education in the community was poor. The best thing about teaching at my specific school were the relationships that I formed with my teammates. Now, as I prepare to begin teaching here in Minnesota, I am sad that those whom I have built such strong ties with will no longer be by my side. I guess part of it is fear or maybe intimidation of the unknown. Some part is also knowing that people you trust have your back and knowing what you can expect from your team. There is a strange thing here known as Minnesota Nice. Several Minnesotans, including the principal at the local church based preschool, have warned me about this. With the knowledge of this phenomenon looming in my mind, I am nervous about fitting in.
Now for the positive stuff! Technology is a big deal here in Minnesota. The recent ballots in the 2011 local elections contained several initiatives that would increase taxes in order to support school technology. Several cities passed the initiatives and several did not (our city did not). That is not the point though. I am not going to be teaching here in Chaska anyway. Anyway, the school in which I am going to be teaching at is in a district that has been focusing on technology for several years now. In this particular school, all of the classrooms have SMART Boards (interactive whiteboards that link to the computer), multi media projectors, and other digital media equipment. In addition, there are class sets of laptop computers for each pod of classrooms (4-5 classrooms each), class sets of ipads that can be checked out, and several other resources. The class seems great and it seems that they are working above or close to grade level.
I promised myself that I would go into this with an open mind and open heart. I really do enjoy teaching and I am excited to find out what else is out there.