Saturday, August 22, 2009

Trying Very Hard not to Be "Half-Empty"

Right now I'm in a position that has been unusual for a few years. In fact, some things are better than I've ever seen them in the entire time I've been teaching. I'm nervous. My normally somewhat cynical self is looking for things to go wrong. Here's an account of what went right for the week:

In Texas, teachers go back to school a week before the students. In fact, students of the younger children tend to be there much earlier decorating rooms and such. I did a little work in the room back in July, and I've done a lot of paperwork tasks over the summer on computer and sent them to myself at my school address, but I wasn't really on-site until this past week. Then the good things started happening:
  • The opening general faculty meeting for the district--breakfast, a little social chitchat, and then the new superintendent covered everything that applied to all campuses so that we wouldn't have to do it in our buildings. We managed all the required legal trainings in record time. He even edited PowerPoints and films so that we only had to watch the parts that we needed to see. Therefore, we could go back to our buildings and work the rest of the allotted time. I got my computers and Elmo set up--it's a projector, not a muppet--a day or two before I expected to do so.
  • In the building faculty meetings were brief and to the point. We had one required training with speakers who came in from the Service Center. The training was good, but they were a little late and then had to do their set up, which wasted my time. If we are going to training at their site, we travel the same highway and leave early enough to get there on time. I would appreciate the same courtesy. That, however, was the only blot on the meetings.
  • We had time included for departmental meetings instead of having to squeeze in planning during our lunches or before or after school.
  • We have our class rolls and our schedules, and our rooms are ready because we had the time between meetings and two other entire workdays to work in our rooms. We have a reasonable plan for taking care of all the student paperwork legalities and a way to keep track of it.
  • My class sizes are reasonably balanced, not too big, not too small, and not grossly uneven.
  • Above all, we have a positive attitude because the emphasis has been on what we are doing right and how we can improve it, what our students are doing right and how to minimize the problems that do occur.

If you're a teacher, perhaps this sort of start is routine for you, but we had a four year period in which we lived with constant criticism, much of it unwarranted and sometimes unnecessarily rude and personal. I just want to hug someone or burst into tears. Please understand that my joy is just not for the teachers, but for the students, coupled with regret for the less-than-what-it-should-have-been that our students received during those years.

Now if I could just find where I stashed those two instruction folders that I always keep beside my computer. . . .


Soonerbeknitting said...


I am envious. We had long meetings, some new things we didnt' know were coming, and my classes are exactly the opposite of what I asked for. I have 4 PreAP and 3 on-level which makes the on-level big. My biggest class is 19 (I know that is relatively small), but in that class I have 6 that failed TAKS Reading and 9 that are on the bubble. It will be a challenging year.

Deb said...

I know what you mean about difficult starts to school. We had the construction project last year, and we had a new principal the year before. This year seems scary too --- another new principal who has been sending us almost daily emails with lists of things on which we will need to focus. Too many!!! And again, I'm teaching out of my area of comfort, interest, and expertise. I am really happy for you and hope that the rest of the year goes as well as it's beginning!

P.S. Thanks for the Handy Helpers recommendation. I just ordered a similar lunch bag!

Knittinreed said...

What an excellent start to the year.
Here's wishing you continued smooth sailing -

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

I hope you have a wonderful school year. I have a few friends who are teachers and they struggling to get excited for the school year.

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

Just wanted to let you know I have an award for you here: