Wednesday, August 24, 2005

District Orientation and REALLY GOOD NEWS

OK, good news first, right? (If there were bad, I would do that first--I always like to save the good news for the end. That way, I am not left with a sour taste in my mouth but a more hopeful taste, like strawberries...)

My license has cleared! It isn't showing up on the website yet, but I called (because I have had a few moments where crying was involved out of frustration and nervousness--seriously, so we went from my turning in the materials on something like June 8th until August 24th??? That is ridiculous!!) and spoke with Jody at the Department of Education who has been handling my file, and she said that it was set to be printed today, and I asked her if I could come in and pick it up myself and hand deliver it (at this point, time is running frighteningly short) to my district. She said yes, so I will pick it up tomorrow after the second day of district orientation. I almost started to cry when she told me I could get it tomorrow--the excitement level was not terribly far--it was a ways, but not so far--from when I was offered the job. I need insurance, I need to get paid (hello, house), I need to work as a teacher (because B&N just isn't worth the hour's drive and I don't know what kinds of jobs would work for me here in Red Wing). ANYWAY, I will be able to sign my contract within the next few days, which is a huge relief, given the fact that the school year is contracted to start for teachers on August 30th. I have, of course, been doing tons of stuff to prepare for the school year, so it's not like I couldn't just keep doing that. I just feel safer, you know, with it being official and all.

Today and tomorrow are our district orientations in Apple Valley. It's great to see Kathy, Elisa, Lora, and Ryan. I can't believe how lucky we are to have five of us in the same district and four at the same school! I'm sad that it's not a more even split, though I am meeting lots of great people at South--Rochelle, Emily, as well as George (another new hire who has taught for a while in Eau Claire but was phy ed before and is fairly new to English), Kathy (who has been teaching English 9 for years at what had been the junior high and is now moving up to the high school), Derek (our department head) and Lisa (the second department head--both seem phenomenal, and I'm glad to have such great support). I'm so excited about the district because it emphasizes heavily on collaboration, and that is one of my big things as a teacher--I'm not protective of my successful (or unsuccessful lessons that could be revamped) lessons.

Anyway, we are now in the district orientation--today we met the superintendent, went over a lot of legal issues and special ed issues, learned about Curriculum Mapping (woo hoo--good in theory, but it could be time consuming and jargon filled, and those two are two of the biggest things that can drive me crazy about education), and we learned how to use Infinite Campus, which is that whole grading/attendance/everything else tool. It seems pretty neat, except the rumor is they are updating it mid-year (November maybe?) since there are so many other technological updates, which kind of freaks me out because just as soon as I get used to one tool, another one will pop up.

Tomorrow we have training on how our observations will go and what that system might be. YIKES. I have a minimum of five evaluations this school year--two are unofficial-one will be done by one of the new teacher coordinators and one will be done by my mentor, though more can be done as requested--and there will be three formative observations and one summative. This will decide if I continue on to the next school year. My observations with Jill always went fairly well, so I feel good about it now, but it's different when you are with someone as laid back and helpful as Jill and another when you are being observed by a Dean or Principal who is looking more to see if I should stick around rather then how I can improve. This school district has been so great so far that I think a lot of it will be how I can improve, or at least how I can articulate what I could have done better, and of the Deans and the Principal that I have met--wow! So friendly and helpful, so I think I'm going to have a good experience in this district.

The school year's start is fast approaching, and I am just bracing myself for the start. I saw my class lists for the 2005-2006 school year, and I have 31 students in each of my English 9 classes and 22 and 23 in Communications 11. This could easily change, but they don't look horrifyingly large. Elisa had only 10 students in one of her English 10B classes, which is the class the Comm-11 students take in 10th grade! We both get a special education assistant/team teacher... not sure what role he or she will play in the classroom, but I hope it will be more of a team teacher then someone who hangs back. I will definitely need the help with the amount of special needs in that room. It was strange to see all the photographs... lots of kids were actually smiling in their school picture, though some of the kids that "looked tough" in the school picture at Roseville were actually some of the greatest kids to have in the classroom, and some of the ones that sat there grinning caused me many problems. One never knows by looking at a picture... it's that whole "Don't judge a book by its cover" cliche, which drives me nutty.

But true. I know because I work in a bookstore. :)

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