Four days into the new school year, I thought I’d check in with the city’s teacher-bloggers, who give us a unique look at everyday life in schools.
Alicia, a midwesterner new to the city, but not new to teaching, experienced a little culture shock — uniforms, unpronounceable names, mice?! — and reflected on another teacher’s advice not to be too nice:
I am torn and a little sad at the thought that these students cannot handle me being me as a teacher. They’ve had strict disciplinarians in the past, and it’s probably the best way to ensure for a successful school year. It’s just a bit more intense than I had hoped or planned. When would I have ever imagined that being called “nice” would backfire on me?! Hopefully in the next few months I can be nice again, but for now, I’m all business, and I’m going to start making sure that a few particular boys are aware of this… Starting at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.
Jose Vilson also feels like his teaching self is a “persona,” but finds that kids react well to his “incredible swagger” and strict expectations for order and productivity. “If I thoroughly believe in that persona, then that’s exactly what I’m going to get … and sometimes to a fault,” he says. Speaking of expectations and behavior, Ruben’s experiencing the “honeymoon period” of the first days of school, hoping he’s learned from last year’s rookie mistakes.
Taking a slightly different tack, another returning Teaching Fellow told his kids they could let him know when he raised his voice inappropriately, just as he’d be letting them know.
Meanwhile, Miss G. met her new students but is still connected to the children she taught, through thick and thin, for two years:
Working 12 hour days, and bracing myself for the year that is to come. And calling my old kids, to wish them good luck in middle school and 5th grade, and let them know that they are amazing, and to try and make it seem okay that on Tuesday they will have a new teacher.
Mimi’s former students are on her mind, too, since one of her favorites came running in to say hi this week, even bringing her books he borrowed and never returned.
“Miss are you married?” a student asked new Teach For America corps member odell, who came back with “No I’m divorced three times.”
Miss Brave is back and much more confident starting year two. Her first day went fine, she reports, except for an administrative mess when kids who were supposed to stay for extra help were allowed to leave: “Angry parents + missing children + screwy attendance forms = stressed-out school.” Gneiss Day experienced administrative SNAFUs, too, being called to pick up supplies she never requested. “I’ll take anything I can get,” she says. And Pissed Off Teacher says her administration is harrassing a teacher to get rid of him.
After four years teaching in Queens, Mildly Melancholy moved to a charter school, which she’s finding a challenging new environment, beginning with a week of professional development during the summer.
Unbalanced Literacy muses on what she’d like to talk to tell Chancellor Klein about teaching:
I can only really speak for myself now, but if I ever had the chance, I would tell him that I have no problem with accountability. I do have a problem with the fact that we seem to spend a few days a month giving the kids test upon test, administered by the city, which takes away time from teaching. There’s also not enough time to really look at the results of these assessments and figure out how to use the data, which is time consuming.
Finally, another Midwest transplant, Steal This Screenname, finds herself still lacking a placement on the first day of school, a frustrating fate she shares with many new Teaching Fellows, she says. Instead of starting the year in her own classroom, she’s subbing, encountering metal detectors, baffling assignments, inappropriate jokes, and petty crime.
Oh, and NYC Educator’s blog is blocked on DOE computers, despite his efforts to keep the language clean.
Teachers, how was the first week back for you? (If you blogged it and I missed you, drop a note in the comments.)
About our First Person series:
First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.