Friday, September 4, 2009

First Day of School

I haven't blogged for ages because I was recently offered a job teaching English at a local high school.
My first reaction was surprise because I had been on about 300 interviews. This quickly turned into euphoria and then panic at the thought of telling my bosses at work who were lining me up for the dizzy heights of covering the city of Newport News.
The Washington Post was meant to be offering me a job in its Hawaii bureau but the letter failed to arrive. We live in a new condo development and the mail is unreliable.
The first thing that hit me about school was the requirement to be somewhere the next day at 7:30 am. I didn't really know what 7:30 a.m. looked like but, in fact, it was similar to 8:30 a.m. with the requirement for even more coffee.
I haven't looked back or slept since.
For the last week I have been familiarizing myself with school procedures.
Monday was tough. We were trapped in an introductory meeting for about three hours without a bathroom break. Now it's one thing explaining away the fact you have never taught, quite another the fact that you are a new hire who has wet his pants in front of the whole school.
I made it without an accident but it was a close call. It felt like being back at school.
For the rest of the week I have been trying to make sense of the craziness, the bell schedules, the online tardiness procedure, the absence procedure, 504 plans, blocks, AYPs, SOLs and HELPs.
The only thing I seem to have remembered is where the red panic button is on the wall of my classroom. A successful lesson involves not pressing it within the first five minutes of class.
And nothing is simple. Searching for a grade 10 text I decided on The Great Gatsby because a- The Great Gatsby is a great novel and B - there are at least 30 copies in the school book closet in a decent condition.
But one of my colleagues came over all skeptical when I mentioned Gatsby. I could tell by the criss crossed lines that appeared on here forehead.
"That may be more grade 11. You'll have to check with the Grade 11 teachers that they're not using it."
So plan B is A Farewell to Arms. But there appear to be only 26 copies - leaving me about 4 short and many are in a dilapidated condition. So do I tell the class most can have a copy but three luck souls will have to buy one?
It's these kind of considerations you don't think about when a small light goes on one night and you think: I want to teach.

9 comments:

  1. When I read the title I figured it would be about your childrens first day of school, what a pleasant and amusing surprise to see it wasnt.

    Great book choices and A Farewell to Arms is the best. Good luck.
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congrats on the job - it sounds way better than NY or HI!!! I agree, great book choices!

    ReplyDelete
  3. err thanks. I'm hoping my next blog won't be entitled: How I jumped out of a window half way through my first class.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I lived in Lake Anna Va for a while, beautiful country. I have always dreamed of visiting England...so glad I found your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sounds like a huge challenge - but ultimately rewarding

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sounds hair-raising.

    Do you get good support from other teachers while you are new?

    Is this usual in the U.S.A. that you can choose your own texts for studying? That sounds wonderful if you have proper time to prepare - bizarre if not.

    Most awfully ignorant about American education system. How old are the children in Grade 10?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Forgot to say 'good luck' before pressing the button - Good luck! (Lots of it!)

    ReplyDelete
  8. thanks. There's some fliexibility. I can choose my 10th grade novel, for instance. But a lot of the stuff is in a bog text book and it's up to me what I use in that because there's too much to use all of the stories.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sounds like a nightmare and very hard work. good luck

    ReplyDelete