Can't remember for the life of me if I mentioned that I switched schools AND grade levels. But, YES I did. I decided to spread my wings from a place, spot, home I never EVER thought I'd leave for one main reason: to gain experience that hopefully will help me when I move up the ladder [you know, to use that hard earned Master's degree in Ed Leadership that I worked my derriere off for]. Well, the phrase Be careful what you wish for rings so, so true!
I accepted a 3rd grade teaching position at a cute little school with cute little kids and a cute little staff of administrators and teachers. Imagine my excitement getting a 3rd grade position teaching Social Studies about my state only AND my ultimate favorite subject Science while gaining experience within an elementary school setting! So stoked! Well, this cute little school, as of May, was unanimously voted, for budgeting reasons, as one of 4 in my district to be closed and merged with the what I thought was a not-so-cute middle school in the neighborhood from where the students lived. But me, with the I-want-experience mindset did not see this as a challenge at all. I was ready for this setting because I was coming from a middle school.
Upon arrival for the meet and greet in June, I was pleasantly surprised. The school is set in the older part of town to the back of an older neighborhood that is really quaint and quiet. The meet and greet was held in the cafeteria, the only place I've seen so far. In my eyes this meet and greet went well. Some of the staff from both schools knew one another, but still had many questions about the "goings on". I could sense there was still a bit of a divide among them, you know a merger is more like a crash of two worlds. More about this later. Anyway, important information was clarified for us to an extent, rooms were assigned, had pep talks from administrators and school board staff, refreshments, then we were off to take a gander at the school and our rooms.
The layout of the school is simple: bright open foyer/office, wide lower hall and upstairs hall [library and computer lab up there], nice-sized classrooms, a nice teacher's lounge, cafeteria with a stage in its own building off the main building, nice, big yard with a portable classroom out to the back of the lower hall...overall great looking school.
And my classroom you ask? Yep, that portable classroom out to the back of the lower hall. Honestly, I didn't understand why I was put out there when the two classrooms I would be blocking with were upstairs. UPSTAIRS! So, with my positive nature I looked at its location as an opportunity to lose a few pounds since I'd be the one going up and down the stairs at least 6 times a day!
Ok, so the big reveal of that portable [wish I had pictures for this!]: It was jam packed, JAM PACKED with stuff. Could barely walk in it to get a gander at the space, walls, slanted ceiling, anything that I had to work with. So, I was told that it would all be removed during the next month and would be ready for me to work in when school was opened after cleaning, painting, and waxing. Great I thought, I can work with what I had a glimpse of! I can make things, design how I want things to work, decide on my theme. Heck, I was excited that I was going to be in my own building! My students and I will be able to make all the noise want...which I love since I love to use music and have the kids move around doing jigsaws and lots of Kagen strategies throughout my lesson. This will be GREAT!
<SIgh> T minus 1 month and counting....
Fast forward a month. We had another lunch where we learned of changes to our teaching assignments...I will as of now be teaching 3rd and 4th grade Writing, Science, and SS. Great! I'm happy with that. BUT, the classes I will NOW switch with are not only upstairs [YAY...still get to lose weight!] but at the opposite end of the hall! YAY, more weight will be lost???? Hmmm. Well, at this point I'm worried about the loss of instructional time moving upstairs and down that long hall and back to my room when switching. But, it'll all work out right? Not to worry about it right? K.
<SIGh> T minus 3 weeks and counting....
Decorating time! Ordered all of my cute stuff with inspiration from Melanie at Schoolgirl Style and her Inspired in Style blog for Creative Teaching. Spent a good chunk of change getting it all together, but I LOVE decorating a classroom! So, I go on the first day that we can get in our rooms. Had all my stuff in what looked like suitcases, armed and dangerous! Well, I go to get in my room and guess what? All that STUFF was STILL IN THERE! NOTHING had been done. It would be another week before I can get in there! The walls still needed to be painted and the floors still needed to be waxed as well. I was assured by the next week it would be ready. Ok!
<SIGH> T minus 2 weeks and counting....
Yes, it was ready the next week....it was all cleaned out, the floors waxed, but no paint. This is what I walked into:
View from door:
LOTS of potential....just needed it painted. Don't know if you can make it out but the walls are paneled and ripping apart. Underneath the heater in the second picture at the floor board is a hole that goes straight out. Birds built a nest and were using the room's map [in the bottom picture] and high window sills by the a/c as perches so there was a lot of bird doo doo that needed to be cleaned. BUT IT HAS POTENTIAL!
Needless to say and don't ask why, I had to paint it. I had to patch that hole so no more birds or anything else could get in. I fixed the blinds as best I could. I WORKED MY BUTT OFF THAT WEEK! Experience, lesson 1.
<SIGH!> T minus 1 week and counting.... [in services 3 days and first day of school on Thursday the next week!]
So, I got there early on Monday morning and started working my magic. I had tables and other things being moved in while I covered those fonky chalk boards with bulletin boards and began to add my touch to the whole room. By Monday afternoon of the next week, this is what I had done:
Of course I still had some things to do like straighten my desk area and hang words, etc...just last minute stuff aside from planning and finishing everything else.
<SIGH!!> T minus 2 days and counting...
Tuesday morning, I get there early to get some things done before our inservice and low and behold I walk into a HOT room. HOT air is blowing out of the a/c. Yep, it's broken...well something is! After the inservice it still wasn't fixed and was told it should be by the first day of school. So , I tried with like 4 fans to stay in there [mind you it is like 100+ degrees outside...remember that heat wave?] and get things done. I can NOT stand being hot. I sweat so much in 30 minutes that I know that weight I wanted to lose was coming off. I had to leave. Upset. Positive it would be fixed.
<SIGH!!!> T minus 1 day and counting
Still not fixed. Was assured it will be fixed by morning. At this point I am completely beside myself. Imagine planning for your first day, new school, new grade level, LOTS to prove and your room is inaccessible due to the heat. Yep, I was worried. I've never not welcomed a class of students in my own room on the first day. Fingers were crossed as I left to go home and rest for the next day, the first day of school.
Still no a/c fixed. Had to move things upstairs into the library. Sweating, frustrated, and feeling ready to quit an anxiety attack, something of which I have NEVER EVER HAD, began. Seriously I was about to walk out the door and not look back. Shakingly I found the bathroom and as I hyperventilated I cried like a big baby! A hard cry. Never had I questioned my move until this point....10 minutes before I had to go meet my third graders in the cafeteria! What the heck did I do? I left a place where I had the best of everything to come to a place that I had to fix, clean, paint, piece together a semblance of what I previously had! I was wondering how stupid was I to have grandiose ideas that I needed an experience like this!!! But then in the midst of all that crying and not being able to breathe I thought of who I was and what I was good at. I remember thinking "Wait, I am me [said my name at this point], this self proclaimed Science Diva who can do whatever she put her mind to doing and not only do it but do it with bells on! I am not a crier, I am not someone who feels defeated just because things aren't working out exactly how I planned it! I am me, I am bigger than this! It's just a room. We can have our first day when it is ready. My cute little students will be more scared coming to a new bigger school and I had to be prepared to assure them that they will be fine. They needed me to be me." At this point a few of my coworkers were a bit concerned but I did what I always do, put a huge smile on my face that I fixed up with my makeup and went into the cafeteria. Once I saw the faces of those scared little 3rd graders and made them smile as well, I knew all would be ok. It was GREAT! Experience, lesson 2.
Today, [well not today, it's Saturday but at this point in time is what I mean] we are in the library again. Experience, lesson 3. Have been for a few weeks now. The flooring in my room was crumbling and had to be replaced. I had to pack it up like the last day of school so that they can fix it. Thank God I didn't have to fix that! We should be back in soon. I'm not worried about it....it'll happen when it happens. I'll go back in on my own time of course to put things back to their rightful places so that we can pick up where we left off. The floor is looking good though...white tiles and new floor boards. Makes the room look bigger!
Also, I am no longer teaching 3rd graders. Experience, lesson 4. We had low numbers so the district cut a 3rd grade spot, not me but someone else, so now I am teaching 4th and 5th grade Science and Social Studies. Glad to have kept my 4th graders and to have my 5th graders. We are having lots of fun [yes, I have fun when I teach]. We are behind an little bit due to the 2 week gap in transition, but we are looking forward to moving back into our room. It is more spacious and we feel cramped in the library.
I have lost about 10 pounds in the process as well. My clothes definitely fit so much better and I can run up and down those stairs like they are a flat piece of hallway. LOL!
All in all, I am getting the experience of a lifetime. I am seeing what it is like to build a school from the ground up. Being a part of the creation of the culture, vision, and mission of our school is truly a plus that I didn't bargain for at the get-go. These little lessons in patience and flexibilty are all very humbling and I am assuming needed in order to make me an understanding administrator some day. I know there are more lessons to come and this experience is just in the beginning stages. Bring it on! It would not be SCIENCE DIVA CERTIFIED if I wasn't a willing participant, right?!?!
Have a Happy Saturday and Happy New School Year y'all!