08 August 2011

The first days of school

Today I went back to school for the first time in 6 years. 

Ok, that's not totally true. I didn't go back as a student. I went back as a teacher.

Now you're really confused. Most of you have known me as a teacher at some point over the last 6 years. Since you know that I've taught in the last 6 years, you are thinking that I've been going back to school for the last decade. Yes, but when you return to a school you've already taught at, it's not like going back to school, it's more like waking up from a really great nap; you don't want to do it, but you are really just re-entering a world you know and are comfortable with.

Today, I started at a new school. Now, when I was working at my previous employer, they employed enough new people every year that they ran a two day workshop for their new hires. My current employer chooses not to do that. Which means today I reported to the school (where I knew a grand total of 1 people) with everyone else. 

It's just as nerve-wracking as going back to school as a student. What clothes should I wear? Should I dress up? Dress down? Where do I go? Do I have a classroom, or am I on a cart?

Today was made worse by the fact that this school hasn't yet told me how to log onto the gradebook, the attendance or my email. This would be ok, except I have a vice-principal who answered most of the questions addressed to her with "it's in the email I sent". Not being able to see those emails does not make me feel more comfortable.

Also, due to my general incompetence in interviewing, I'm teaching 6 classes, spread over 5 rooms at 2 campuses. This is my 10th year in education as a teacher, and for the first time ever, I don't have a home. Sure, I have a shelf that I get to share with a microwave in a room with no outside windows or doors, but that's not home. I guess my stuff will have to live in my garage for another year. 
This is hard for me. I left a school that I helped to plan and open. I knew where everything was, who was who, and how to get things. I was a department chair. I taught AP classes. I collaborated with people. I had two rooms, and a desk in an office for Pete's Sake! I was comfortable.

I'm not a modest person, and I've become accustomed to getting my own way. I think that this job will work out, and that I'll end up liking it (since that's happened everywhere I've worked), but I'm not sure that will happen. I've been brought low, and that's hard for me to accept.  I have become, in some bizarre twist of karma and fate, a freshman all over again.

I have a schedule that I don't like. I have to be on a cart, at the mercy of other people's whims, invading their classrooms. I have to drive between two campuses, all but guaranteeing that I'll be a bit of an outcast at both buildings. I don't know where things are or who does what. (there's a map and organizational chart in that email I can't open).

Please don't take this to be ingratitude. I know I'm fortunate to have been given a chance at a teaching job in general. I know that recent graduates in California have been told it might take 3 years to get an interview and that I got a job on my third try. Believe me, I'm happy. However, it hurts that I may wander the campus for 5 years before I get my own room. It hurts that I have to teach 4 sections of freshmen. It hurts that I have to teach everyone to say my last name again. 

I suppose there's good news in all of this, though: I will get through it. I'll grind this year out from my storage-closet of an "office". I'll get a cart and deck it out. I'll find a way to engage extra-curricularly. I'll still get to work with high school kids. 

But tonight, 2 days before kids show up at someone else's door and find me there to teach class, I'm just as nervous as those freshmen who are sitting on their couch, worrying about how high school is going to go. 

I guess we'll all find out together.

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