Nine days stand between me and the last day of my first year of teaching. I made it. Amid team drama and frustrating students, harassing parents and new policies – I made it.
With nine days left of my first year, I figured that now is a better time than any to share the story of the brief but frustrating road that brought me from my last post to today.
I had the potential of losing my job this year. I’m so new that I have yet to finish the provisional teacher program, and there the letter read, “we will discuss the continuation of the renewal of your contract.” Scary, right? The worst part is that this risk had absolutely nothing to do with my performance, my demeanor, or my contributions to my school or my district. As a new teacher, job security is like the Holy Grail, the most sought after component of this profession. Budget cuts left our district to the decision of downsizing by means of dismissing teachers. That being said, all non-tenure teachers were on the chopping block. I now understand how our parents feel when they have to find a way to budget our summer classes or when the air conditioner breaks. Things inevitably got real and scary and frustrating, and somehow the days of which obscenely short dress you plan on wearing to the club seemed unbelievably insignificant.
After a month of sleepless nights, I signed and submitted a contract for year two. I did it. I survived the proverbial hunger games. Little did I know, that was step one into a slew of unexpected changes. Within weeks of sending that beautiful piece of paper out into the abyss with positive vibes for a fresh start, I was met with the news that I hadn’t quite expected: my job was changing.
In an effort to maximize learning while utilizing our present assets and not increasing the already growing staff, our building restructured, taking our sixth grade dragons from five-core teachers to a four-teacher block schedule with ELA being honored for the combination category that it is. That being said, there was no room for me in this newly adapted mold.
Therefore, back to seventh grade I go. I have been reassigned to teach seventh grade language arts in the room in which my career at this school began with the team that nurtured my many, many over-exaggerated freak outs about my supervisor, practicum class, and the memorable teacher work sample. Although I’ve found a way to embrace the havoc that was my sixth grade year, I welcome this new change with open arms. Not only am I returning to where it started, I’m elated to know that I will have the same students again in the fall.
The hindrance I face during this exciting and expectation-filled time is the upcoming PARCC assessment. Based on recent studies and practice assessments, language arts in our building will forever be changed. So long to the days of stressing the argumentative essay, and au revoir to the days of emphasizing the expository essay. PARCC thrives off of the notion that reading fuels the ELA machine; everything from the persuasive letter prompts to the assignments on citation are derived from short (as in four pages) stories, poems, and multimedia components that share the commonality of a theme or challenge. For instance, a typical third grade PARCC assessment would require students to read a short story with the conflict of fear, analyze a Maya Angelou poem regarding fear, and watch a short video regarding fear to construct a comparative and contrasting five paragraph response defining fear and ways in which one could response to it, how it is beneficial, etc. This being said, the structure of my ideal seventh grade language arts class is a distant memory. PARCC has sunk its teeth into our state, and the mark is undeniable. Therefore, our classes, and mine in particular, must restructure in order to meet the diverse needs of our learners, address the common core, and adequately prepare our dragons for this out of control assessment.
Henceforth, this blog which once held the love and lessons from a sixth grade reader will now serve as a vessel for the reflections of a seventh grade writer.
On with the learning,
– Ms. Sunshine again