I probably won’t be able to sleep tonight. After all, tomorrow is a big day.
Tomorrow marks my official first day at my new teaching position. If you’ve known me for a few years, you know I’ve been all over the place since I started teaching. Two high schools, two middle schools, a career center, and now a university…sort of.
I will be teaching at a collaborative school, which is a partnership between West Virginia State University and Kanawha County Schools (my employer). High school students from across the county can apply and interview for the collaborative program. The expectations are high and they cannot accept more than 50 students. These students are allowed to take college courses on campus, while also completing their core classes: English/Language Arts (that’s me), Science, Math, and Social Studies.
While kids will be kids and I’m sure there will be obstacles, from what I have heard the collaborative students are hardworking, studious, and eager to learn. The collaborative school is an elite program, so it is likely the students will be among the best in the county. This is my optimistic view of what to expect this year.
I learned yesterday that we follow the university’s schedule rather than the county’s. So I will be working some holidays (Election Day, Veterans Day, etc.), my spring break is not the same, and my holiday breaks (Thanksgiving and Christmas) are longer. The spring break issue has already caused a bump in my plans.
Regardless, I am looking forward to this new experience. My office is on the university campus, and my classrooms will be, as well. I will be living like a professor, but with guaranteed tenure and public school teacher salary and benefits. I even get a college faculty ID, access to the university library, and a parking pass. For the past month or so, I have done my own sort of personal professional development by reading and annotating the heck out of Cheryl Miller Thurston’s Common Sense, perusing some stories in a book called Burned In: Fueling the Fire to Teach, and reviewing some of my highlights and annotations in my worn-out copy of Kelly Gallagher‘s Teaching Adolescent Writers, which may be the best book I have ever read about how to teach kids to write, and Gallagher is definitely one of the pioneers of the push for more authentic reading and writing in the classroom. Just read this:
“…Shouldn’t schools be the place where students interact with interesting books? [Tweet it!] Shouldn’t the faculty have an ongoing laser-like commitment to put good books in our students’ hands? Shouldn’t this be a front-burner issue at all times?” from Readicide.
I have long bemoaned the “etched-in-stone” curriculum in which every student reads the same book because it’s mandated by such-and-such or because county spent (wasted) thousands of dollars on classroom sets or the books are part of a partnership with the textbook company, which charged (wasted) thousands of dollars for their materials. But I digress.
I truly feel like my new job will enable me to unleash my inner scholar in a way I haven’t been able to before.
So, I probably won’t sleep well tonight, as visions of what to expect this school year dance around in my brain. It doesn’t matter that tomorrow is just a meeting and prep day. It doesn’t matter that I have the next day off. It doesn’t matter that I won’t see students until next week.
I won’t sleep well tonight, and I won’t sleep well then, either.