Wednesday, September 04, 2013


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My life is profoundly different, and immeasurably improved. 

This is astoundingly our sixth week of classes.  We came home from vacation and I plunged immediately into new-hire training and classroom set up and all that.  Then meet-the-teacher night and learning the names of 170-ish students and all the staff.   All of that was nerve-wracking because I'd taken the job after two not-so-long interviews and a few follow-up phone calls.  It was possible that I'd made a mistake, right?

I didn't.  I love my job.  I must say that at least a few times every day.  Even though this is my first year with this set of textbooks and using this curriculum map, so I'm creating lesson materials (notes, PowerPoints) as I go, I still love my job. 

It is not a chore for me to write notes or put together a PowerPoint.  It's fun.  I've been a writer most of my life, after all, and this is writing about stuff I know really well, in the way that I love to write best.  I get to explain things.  By making PowerPoints I get to engage my students at a level they wouldn't be if I just relied on notes on the board. 

(And really, the PowerPoints keep me consistent, and keep me from wearing out Expo markers every day.)

I don't have that square peg/round hole feeling any more.  And I'm not afraid of my rose colored glasses slipping, either, because there are things that are not perfect, of course.  But that's OK because those are manageable things.  On the other hand, so many good decisions have been made at the top, and best of all, they are enforced all the way down, that make up for any glitches.  My school a great place for me to work.

That said, I can see how someone else might not like it.  We have an "accelerated, back-to-basics" curriculum.  It is a joy to teach to the brightest in the class (and tutor the lowest to help them keep up).  It's great to be able to expand on the curriculum and go further in depth than what the sometimes oversimplified text provides.   It's amazingly satisfying to set high standards and get the approval and backing of the administration, and the cooperation of the students. 

I looked back over some of my posts from last year, and the story of that one class, one day, that learned how to balance chemical equations sticks with me.  I have that experience every day in nearly every class.  My students are interested in science.  They follow directions.  They want to learn.

In the past, I've used an expression along the lines of "Yes, it feels good to finally stop beating your head against a brick wall." 

Yeah, I'm not doing that anymore. I have a smidgeon of guilt for "giving up" on my old school.  I left for a lot of reasons, and I'm much happier where I am.  I heard Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" the other day and the line, Did you exchange a walk-on part in a war with a lead role in a cage? struck me.  Is that what I did?  What I was doing felt like a daily battle.  Now I do have a pacing guide that says what topics  I should teach when, and how many assessments I have to do over each grading period. That hasn't put me in a cage, it's given me a structure in which I can deliver the content (and the assessments) however I want.  It's lovely. 

Old job versus new job is like free-form poetry versus sonnets.  Both can be beautiful, one is a lot more structured.  I like structure.

Like my Lady Banks roses, I do better with support.

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