Sunday, September 11, 2016

Educators Eating Eggs

I wanted to call this post: Teachers Who Drive Jeeps Getting Coffee but went with the alliteration over the homage :)

This morning I met a former colleague, still friend, for breakfast. We had a fun conversation catching up on our summer ventures and how our families were doing now that the new school year is underway. Then we got down to business: how is it going at my new school?

I was honest with my friend, @monsmith359 . I told him that my first reaction was: I'm too old for this. I mean, honestly, starting all over, learning the names of 1300 students and 130 faculty members plus all of the staff, just for starters? On top of that, when school started I still wasn't really sure I am supposed to do. What is our protocol for buying resources? How do I catalog them? What do we do with weeded books? Let's be honest: I didn't even know how to check out a book to someone. And I knew there was more to my new role than these things I listed, I just didn't know where to start.

This was just SO different than any other start of school. When I taught Social Studies I ALWAYS knew what I was doing on the first day -- for the whole first week -- of school. I mean, really, I knew what each course I taught was all about, how it would evolve, what the end goals were. I didn't always do the same thing, but I knew how to plan for those classes, how to prioritize tasks, and how to get it all done. But now, I don't have a small classroom with 30 desks to arrange for a particular lesson. I don't have five discrete groups of students flowing through my room according to a bell schedule I have memorized and a rotation of periods I remember and particular and familiar curricula to implement. In my old role, those were the things I was forced to commit to memory quickly. Honestly, I don't yet know how the schedule rotates at my new school. Tomorrow is a Day F and you can see a snapshot of what I will be doing. Yellow indicates co-teaching in different classrooms or meetings in the library. Green indicates working in the MakerSpace. But without that snapshot, I still can't remember any of that.

The first week I was so exhausted that one night when my phone that was charging on the nightstand beeped at midnight, I reached for my alarm clock, turned it off, got in the shower, dressed for work including make up and product in my hair. I then went downstairs and emptied the dishwasher, fed the dogs, and started the coffee. Then, I turned to look at the clock on the stove which read 12:19. My reaction? OMG, we lost power?! Then I looked at my watch: 12:20. Oh No. It's the middle of the night. I tried not to cry as I walked back upstairs, got back in bed, and tried to go back to sleep.

It was such a relief when my department chair colleague said I was hired because I had a track record as an excellent teacher. Everything else I could learn.


So last week I learned how to orient students (and myself) to Noodle Tools. I learned how to facilitate a book talk and build displays to promote books and increase circulation. I started to learn how to navigate Destiny as a library administrator. I learned who does book ordering and cataloging (not me) and who checks out books (also not me) and who re-shelves them all (you guessed it, not me). I am starting to learn the various platforms that combine to make our 24-7 digital presence and how to work within them. I am browsing through the stacks to learn the print collection and clicking through the databases to learn those, too. And I am learning the names, a little bit at a time.

Here are the skills I used that I already had: I facilitated a three-hour long professional learning session on SAMR. I monitored colleagues for technical overload and adjusted the conversation when we were co-planning a lesson and a unit. I answered student questions and admitted when I didn't know the answer. Then introduced those students to someone who did know and learned alongside them. I helped colleagues re-think their units by backwards designing from enduring understandings and essential questions. And I co-taught some classes helping to lay the foundation for student inquiry projects.

So back to my friend, Ed's, question: How's it going?

It's great. Really great. Every day I am learning something new -- sometimes out of necessity and sometimes just because the opportunity emerges. I feel valued and challenged and respected. I am having fun. What more can I ask of my new work-home?

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