Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New Teacher Week!

Let’s hear it for New Teacher Week! The New York Department of Education offers a two day workshop that gives new teachers their “last bastion of hope” for preparation before classrooms of hellions are unleashed upon them. All in all, it went ok. There was so much repetition, which was good and bad. Bad because it was a snoozefest and all the work was interactive so you couldn’t just turn off and drool while you stared into space, and good in the respect that so much that the state was teaching was taught by the Fellowship. What was odd that they were throwing new teachers from the Fellowship in along with 4 year traditional certification, and I felt as prepared as these carreer teachers were. Which is not very prepared at all, or as prepared as one can be before facing the day of reckoning.

I seriously feel like a rookie cop whose never seen action, or the fresh meat in the military being sent over to the Middle East: I vaguely know what to expect,
I know what is expected of me, and I’m pretty sure I have an idea of how it could all go wrong. What I’m not prepared for is the day-to-day. Everyone says that the first year of teaching is the year I will learn, oh, and that I shouldn’t plan to have a life. Lovely, since I don’t have a life anyway.

Aside from teaching school, I’m all registered up at Pace University for my class this fall, Tuesday nights after class. And let me say that between Pace paperwork, Teaching Fellow’s paperwork, AmeriCorps stuff, paperwork for the Department of Ed, and for my transitional B certification…I feel like I’ve filled out so much crap, so repetitive…and I never really felt on top of it. There was a small emergency last week where I needed to send something out immediately because it was overlooked in all the madness. I’d complain more about it, but from what I’ve heard I’ll have an avalanche of paperwork once I’m teaching and filling out IEPs.

“My entire weekend was lost to creating lesson plans and planning the week ahead. I spent all my times after school working on the student’s IEPs.” This is a direct quote from a DOE teaching mentor in friendly warning. Fabulous.

To offset all the drama and worry I have continued binge-shopping for school materials. I’m trying REALLY hard to keep it under $100 for now, but I went to Barclay (Teacher Store) and just *had* to have a nice chalk holder, and construction paper, and sticky tack for hanging motivational posters, and of course the motivational posters themselves.

A word on motivational posters: I think the idea is kinda hokey…little positive sound bites that students will slag endlessly, as I remember I did…even as a good student. However, I find them important because it shows the personality of the teacher, and creates the “print rich environment” that schools and administration look for. I could only find one in the entire store that did not make me gag or instantly hate myself for buying: It’s a poster with a photo of a chicken about to cross the street with the caption “Know the reasons for your actions.” It wasn’t very preachy or corny, and taught something that I as a person, not just a teacher, find crucial: taking personal responsibility. I also thought the chicken was cute. Oh, and one more thing…I don’t know if it’s Barclay’s in general or most teacher stores but the number of religious posters and signs were almost more abundant than the regular inspirational posters. Maybe it’s a NY thing, with all the private schools and churches? But it creeped me out. (Full disclosure: I consider myself to be Christian and spiritual, but would never force religion on anyone, especially students who haven’t fully formed their own identities yet. Frankly, I find folks who would do so to be disturbing.)

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