Monday, August 9, 2010

First day at the new job; first day as an old new teacher.

Today was day one at the new job; a charter school for gifted and talented kids where I will be teaching a mixed third and fourth grade class, with the exception of English Language Arts, which I will be teaching to a mixed sixth and seventh grade class because they read at a high school level or above, and I have so much high school experience.

The day was an incredibly invigorating one for me in many ways. Even though I have 22 years of teaching experience, I have never taught elementary education as a full-time educator; as a substitute, sure, and it was my experience as a substitute at the elementary level that planted the seed towards my pursuing my elementary endorsement in addition to already being secondary English Language Arts licensed. As a result, I truly felt like a brand new teacher today, which in many ways, I am. It's a bit odd, but in a good way. I spent my time planning out an elementary classroom instead of a high school or even a middle school classroom and was thoroughly excited to unpack supplies for projects, beanbag chairs for my reading corner...I probably had far more fun than I should have had. (heh)

To add to my excitement, I am working in a truly technologically equipped classroom: I have been given a laptop, projector, SMART board, document camera, and my room also has a laptop cart with enough laptops for 1:1 laptops in my room.

I'm also thrilled with the general attitude of the administration. First, we are absolutely treated as respected professionals, which completely creates an atmosphere that energized and validated everyone in the room. The Executive Director cares as much for her staff as she obviously does for the students. It was truly impressive.

One thing that was said today was "There's nothing elitist about what we're doing here, but it's different." And that's what it comes down to for so many charters, and it is why so many parents have gotten behind the charter movement. It's not that traditional public schools are bad, and in fact, the director made it a point to praise the job being done in and by traditional settings, noting that public schools are completely right and effective for 95% of the students enrolled in them, but made not that there are still 5% who need something different, and that is where charters come in. It's no secret that public schools just simply don't fit the needs of every student; regardless of what our politicians and business types think, children are not widgets...they are not all alike, and they all have their own individual needs, both academically and personally, and it is completely, totally, and absolutely unrealistic and unfair to expect them to fit the same mold.

I'm in a really, really good place, psychologically and professionally, in this school. I am looking forward to my "first" year of teaching.