Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes (with apologies to David Bowie)

Another school year is rapidly drawing to a close, marking the completion of my 22nd year as an educator. For a variety of reasons, it's been one of the longest and most difficult years of my career, and one that is most notably marked by a change in employment. Next year I will find myself in another school district at a whole different grade level: for the first time in a long time I'll be teaching middle school again. Come next fall, I'll be standing in front of a group of sixth grade IB students. While I am saddened by leaving the students and faculty where I currently am employed, and I will miss them terribly, at the same time, I am very excited to meet my new students and co-workers.

The new challenges will be a great opportunity for me to grow as a professional and as a person. The advantage for my students is that since I've taught at the high school level, and having taught IB at the high school level, I know where they are headed and what is in store for them, and so I can help to get them ready for that transition. I've already downloaded sixth grade vocabulary and book lists, and have been running through potential lessons and scenarios in my mind.

I've certainly enjoyed my time as a high school educator. I've worked with some outstanding young men and women (and some outstanding not so young men and women... heh), and I've learned quite a lot. For a while, I resisted the change; there is comfort in familiarity, change represents real risk and is scary. Yet everything kept pointing me in that direction, and the harder I pushed against it, the harder I was pushed toward it. And yet when I think back on my previous years as a junior high/middle school teacher, it is almost always with a smile and a bit of warmth: I genuinely like working with middle school students and find them to be quite a lot of fun.

The other challenge will be figuring out which technological tools will be useful for my students and which ones won't. There are some that in the past I neglected since they were "too young" for my 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students that I will now likely find very useful. I will look at others to see if they are "too old" for my 6th graders or if they can be adapted for use within the middle school classroom. Of course, this is assuming I'll have at least semi-regular access to technology.

So many questions as I venture forth into new and uncharted horizons, yet I'm filled with a sense of adventure and excitement. This year will end bittersweet for me, but the next year is filled with promise and excitement. My next big adventure awaits!