On This Day…

Just like today, minus a line or two.

Just like today, minus a line or two.

It was a bright, clear, mild Sunday morning. Thousands filed into a modest, rectangular, urban-gray building known as the GSU Sports Arena. Most were there to commemorate the end of a journey begun four or more years before.

I was among the number, capped and gowned in black, waiting for my full name to be read at near-auctioneer speed. Proceed in line, right hand shake the president’s hand, left hand receive from him what I’d worked all those years for. Some deride it as “just a piece of paper,” but I’d never say so. That morning in downtown Atlanta, 15 years ago today, I became a Bachelor of Arts. Today, I’m just a bachelor, doing precious little to practice my art.

I had just begun a job as a repographic engineer (that would be someone who makes photocopies all day) working at a large downtown law firm, making $8.00 an hour and feeling rich. After all, gas sold for a mere $0.699 a gallon that week. The future was bright; what could be better than having just earned a degree in English at the height of the dot-com boom?

Oh what a difference a decade and a half make. The end of the year and the beginning of a new one is always a reflective time, but thinking of this milestone today has me feeling even more introspective than usual. Coincidentally, I received perhaps my last-ever paycheck for teaching public school today. Seems I have much to write about…

Next time. For now, enjoy the #1 song in the USA the week I graduated:


Teacher Diary 8(-3)

Job-Alikes Day. This was the day to meet our colleagues from other schools in the district and plan collaboratively. Not much of that really happened, We had some breakout sessions and in one, I learned about a personality inventory called DIRT. Yes, DIRT. It identifies your interpersonal relationship style as a Doer, Influencer, Relater, or Thinker. It’s almost scarily accurate. If teammates actually used this to guide their interactions, much progress could be made; after all, the number one reason people quit jobs is because they “can’t get along” with the people they work with (or for). Take two minutes and try it: http://www.iidc.indiana.edu/cedir/dirt/ I’ll be happy to share my results… tomorrow.

Teaching Diary 8(-4)

Today was some instructional nuts and bolts and Becca continued her help setting up my classroom… pictures tomorrow. It’s 9:41 p.m. and I can’t stay awake, which pretty much says it all.

Teacher Diary 8(-6)

Friday brought the first week at my new school to a close. We learned about MYP, the Middle Years Programme that comprises grades 6-10 for students who want to pursue an International Baccaulerate (IB) diploma during their last two years of high school. We are an MYP candidate school; the IB approvers will be visiting in October. PTA graciously provided lunch.

My job-alike (a term I never heard until here; it means the other teacher(s) in the same subject and grade level) spent the afternoon discussing lesson plans for the first unit and week, and novels to potentially read in class. I went back on Sunday to decorate the classroom more with Becca’s help.

Monday will be the first day of school back where I taught the last seven years. It’s weird to think of all the people I know being truly back at work, with classrooms full of students. I’m here and they’re there and life goes on. 

Teaching Diary 8(-7)

Today was the official report date for all teachers. We convened and got t-shirts. They were all the same on the front– red on black, reading “Bulldog Nation” with a background picture of a dreamcatcher. The back had one word written in white– the catch was, there was a choice of words: “Honor… Courage… Love… Dream… Wonder… Imagine… Believe…” which is the first one I went for, but apparently many others had to; so I went for “Imagine” instead, pretty apt for a reading teacher, methinks.

Later I met with my colleagues in 6th grade ELA, and started to scratch the surface of planning instruction. Soon it was off to our first social function– bowling!

Have you ever tried to sleep-write? It doesn’t work so well. Here is one of the videos we watched as a whole group this morning. We can all be someone’s rainbow sometime…

Teaching Diary 8(-8)

Today was the second half of the two-day New Teacher Orientation. We discussed what curriculum and instruction mean, and what they don’t mean. In short, this is not good teaching…

Tomorrow it’s back to our own campuses for the first official contract day, when all teachers, new and returning alike, must report.

Also today I signed an application for an apartment. Life is moving forward. At least twenty times by now I have answered questions about why I moved to Texas with a simple “I needed a change.”

We all do sometimes…

Teaching Diary 8(-10)

I went back to work today. First day of new teacher orientation. I arrived to a locked front door. Because I had interviewed by phone, my first face-to-face meeting with my principal, and the assistant principal who had interviewed me, was when they were walking down the hall towards said front door and let me in. I now have an ID badge and 24/7 keycard so that shouldn’t be an issue again. I learned they use “backwards design” for unit planning, which I’m already familiar with, and the usual acronym soup that I am not familiar with as it’s all different in each state. I got my room key, only to discover before the end of the day, serendipitously, that it was the wrong room. There were really yummy breakfast burritos, and other really new teachers who made me feel old.

The 8 is for my eighth year teaching. The (-10) means there’s ten nonstudent work days before the REAL first day of school, with students. That will be 8.001.

In the previous seven years I never tried to document the day-to-day journey. New year, new school, new state; perfect time to attempt such a daily diary. Even though I said I’d go to bed almost an hour ago… I’m going to have to build up more endurance quickly.