There have been a lot of changes this summer to the point where I have no idea what I’ve told to different people. I feel like I’ve spent all summer packing boxes, unpacking boxes, moving furniture, getting on tiny plane after tiny plane. Last summer I took graduate classes and completed a practicum for my master’s degree and I think I had more energy than I do now.
If you’d asked me in April what life would look like, I couldn’t have told you. I was miserable at my current job, not having any luck finding another one, and it wasn’t going to matter anyway because my lease was going to be up this summer and did not have a place to live in Nashville. Needless to say, those few weeks between the standardized tests and the end of the school year were crazy. I do not know how I would have been able to pack up my apartment and my classroom without my mom flying down to help me out.
After a lot of thought, discussion, hesitation, reconsideration, and anxiety, I chose to stay at my placement school for the coming school year. We have a new principal that I had the chance to meet at the end of the year who is changing things up. Based on the failing scores, the school was moved into the “Innovation Zone” No one really has been able to describe it consistently, but the best way to think of it is the district allowing failing schools to actually make changes to what their schools and teachers can provide without having to go through all the red tape (and the extra money to back those efforts). After talking with the new principal in June, I came back for training a few weeks ago ready to make the switch to 3rd grade Reading. Instead, I found myself listed as teaching 2nd grade…
…AND 1st grade.
After some serious soul searching and consulting with my favorite lower elementary teachers, I’m coming around to teaching the wee ones. There wasn’t a confusion on the staff list — I’ll be teaching a combined 1st and 2nd grade classroom. Talk about a shift! I’m still wrapping my head around what that will actually look like. I’ve taught the past 2 years with about 30 percent of my class being English Language Learners (ELL/ESL). This year, about 30-40 percent of my class received Exceptional Education services — a whole different department of people, paperwork, and range of teaching strategies. Luckily, I’ve got a wonderful co-teacher from the EE department.
Part of the changes at the school have included rearranging classroom assignments. My new classroom is one of 4 classrooms ( mine, a 2/3 combined class, Special Education, Pre-K and Speech services) located in a wing of the building that is about a 5 minute walk to any other classroom. 4 classes. That’s it. Most of the new hires didn’t even realize there were classrooms in that wing. While I like not having to go upstairs anymore, it’s been a bit isolated. For the last few years, it’s been referred to as the “Special Education Hall”. With all the changes, I figured we needed some rebranding. So here goes.
My new classroom is in Fiji — like Fiji, we are a far-off island that everyone wants to go to because it is that amazing.
Tomorrow is our first day of school. Wish me luck!