Friday, October 30, 2009

Update to the Update

Yesterday I talked about how busy I've been with my Swap-Bot group, paper People Art Dolls, but I have been even busier in my real life! If you read my post two days ago you heard that I was switched (I'm making myself passive in this move!) to the other elementary school in our district a week before school started this year, and was assigned to a new position. Although this move was an involuntary move on my part, I have grown to like the job most of the time, and am enjoying the interactions with the children I am teaching.

Our school district has been experiencing a great deal of upheaval the past couple of years. Our enrollment has declined considerably necessitating a reduction in force for two years running. This, coupled with an inability to come to terms with the board of education on a contract for certified staff, has also created some divisiveness between the teaching staff and the administration. The way all this affects me is that due to the reduction in force, teachers who were riffed left positions open that had to be filled from within and many people were shifted to different jobs and buildings. The job I am now doing was to have been done by a veteran, 34 year teacher. She was assigned to a different building, and rather than moving for her last year of teaching, she decided to retire thereby leaving a vacancy which was filled by me. I really don't know why I was chosen, other than the fact that it is a reading position and I do hold a reading endorsement. There were however, several other people who really wanted the position, and had expressed no interest in it or desire to move again since I had just moved from that building two years previously.

But I guess sometimes we need a little prodding to break out of the ruts we have grooved ourselves into, and I am no exception to that axiom. I was pretty upset about the move at first because at the end of May I had packed up my fifth grade classroom as ordered. Every. Last. Bit. Of. It! From the floor to the ceiling, my fifth grade classroom was packed awaiting orders to see if I would be moved. Everyone in our building had done the same because we knew there were being cuts and there would be many moves made. But in July I received a letter telling me my assignment was to remain the same with the exception that I would also be adding fifth grade Social Studies to my teaching duties. That was fine with me; I love social studies. So, I thought I was set to go. Since I had so much to unpack (I own some books!), I began unpacking and getting my room ready about the first week of August. It took me about two weeks, to get everything unpacked and put away, and to get my posters hung back up and to decorate my bulletin boards, do copying for the beginning of the year, and to get things ready for the students. I also wanted to be ready ahead of schedule so I could take the week before school started to enjoy family things and get things done around the house. Finally, because I was ready ahead of schedule, I began overhauling all my filing cabinets at school and reorganizing everything in them. By this time it was August 13th, and school started on August 24th.

Well, on the afternoon of the thirteenth when I was on my way home, my friend called to tell me that the superintendent of out district was asking for my cell phone number! Now that was a new one for me! I immediately became nervous. The Sup't. does NOT just call you up on your cell! Anyway, as soon as I got home I checked the answering machine to see if he had called our home phone. Whew, I thought to myself. No messages from him! Well, a little later, as I sat on the deck talking to our neighbor, my cell rang, and guess who it was! The superintendent. And guess what his message was. When he asked me why I wasn't saying anything after his message, I told him I was pretty much dumbstruck, but I wish I'd asked him some questions. Like why me? How long had my name been tossed around for the job? But I didn't, so now those questions will remain unasked and unanswered. But again, sometimes we just have to be shaken out of our complacency and get handed something new, which is where I am at this point.

So, do I like my new job? Yes, I do, on most days that is. It is very different than what I had been doing, and I am having to relearn many things from my undergrad days in college regarding early literacy. That is a good thing, though, because I really enjoy research and learning. Is it easy? No, because nothing about teaching Kindergarten, first, and second grade children can be assumed or taken for granted. It is very touchy-feely and hands on, and having been accustomed for so long to fifth and sixth graders who are more independent, I am having to make some major adjustments to the way I speak, think, and teach, among other things. Some days I feel as if I am mothering more than I am teaching, and some days I go home wondering how Kindergarten teachers ever make it to retirement! On the other hand, it has made me much more humble about my abilities because now I can really see the hard work and dedication put forth by our primary teachers! In my former life I often wondered why children arrived in fifth grade missing some piece or other of what I considered essential knowledge, and now I marvel that they arrived there with as much as they did have!

How long will I be in this position? I don't know, but I think the move has a been a positive one for me if for no other reasons than the ones I wrote of in the preceding paragraph. Change has a way of opening our eyes to a new perspective and that, for me, is a good thing.

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