Monday, June 22, 2015

New Year, New School, New Adventure!

My teaching adventure has lead me somewhere new for the next school year. I am so excited to be on this journey, but am a little scared of the changes. For the past four years, I have worked in two different low income schools, and it was the most eye opening experience I have ever had.

In Arizona, I worked in a small town, basically in the middle of nowhere, with very little chance for the residents to make an income in the town itself. I had the TOUGHEST kids I could ever imagine for my first year teaching, but that didn't mean I didn't love my job! These kids were resilient - some had more siblings than I had family members (including grandmas, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.), some of them had lost parents to accidents or the justice system, some of them went without water on a weekly basis because many of their houses did not have water hookups - they had a huge water tank in the back of their pickup to haul water to their houses on a weekly basis, some of them lived with dirt floors, no electricity, and little food. But, these kids taught me so, so very much! I was just 23, with a fresh masters degree in hand, and thought I was going to change their world, one paragraph at a time. I quickly found out that hilarity, communication, and a judgement free zone were the most important things I could give these kids. I could teach them how to balance a checkbook and other life skills through our management system, I could work on teamwork by playing educational games and centers, and I could hear them by introducing dialogue journals and letting them know a little bit about my life meant they were hooked. I've never cried as much as I did while I was teaching in Arizona, because I was so invested in these kids. They broke my heart everyday, but that didn't stop me from loving every minute that I spent with those hooligans :)

For the last two years, I've had a very similar experience, in Idaho. The school I worked at is now one of the highest ranked lowest income schools in the state (if that doesn't make sense think: all the kids will be receiving free lunch next year). I never knew first and second grade could be so TOUGH! I had my hands full with twenty seven 6-8 year olds the last two years. But, there was never a day that I didn't laugh. This last year, I had the best teammates I could ask for, we worked so well together and I credit all of our students' growth to our collaboration. I worked hard, learned lots, and made some lifetime friends. I am so thankful for this time, and the chance to work with the best team!

This year, I'm on to a new adventure. I accepted a job at a local charter school. I will be teaching third grade - of course it's the only grade I have NO experience in at all, but I couldn't be more excited for this change of pace! The last four years were eye opening, and I have the biggest hole in my heart for leaving those kiddos and my team, but I needed to do this for me. I needed to see what a school was like that had parent support, kids that didn't climb on my filing cabinets or bring Patron to school, and a staff that thought discipline and consequences were important to follow through on. I don't know if the school will live up to all of my expectations, but I know that because I grew up going to Catholic School, with strict rules and high expectations, I will feel more like this was the type of experience I grew up with. I am excited and scared and nervous all at the same time, but mostly I just cannot wait to meet my kids!

I go back to work on the 4th of August for training, which leaves me only a short month to move into my new (all mine) house!

 It's a short, busy summer, but I know it will be all worth the effort in the long run!

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