I started my new adventure today, teaching at a new school. I have been wanting to teach at this school for a while because the educational philosophy of the school is very closely aligned with my own. It has never worked out until now, and I am very excited to be a part of a new school community.
My first impressions of the school were made when I was sitting in the parking lot waiting for the time to come for me to go to work. There were kids already out on the playground, this early! And what a playground it was; this was the first place I visited during my day. The playground has gardens, loose parts, a sand pit, and many other wonderful features. Children are encouraged to engage and explore all of the elements of the playground, and generally aren’t held back in any way. It was a wonderful sight to see.
The classroom was pretty typical, which surprised me. After looking at the wonderful playground I guess I expected more, but the teachers are wonderful. Respectful and calm, inviting and engaging, they acted every bit the teachers that I have been wanting to work with my entire career. The lead teacher and I had a wonderful conversation about how the class flows and what to expect, and she let me know that she is open to collaboration and working together. She also said that she is not that familiar with how to approach the project approach of teaching, so this may very well be a journey that we can go on together. I am looking forward to it.
In one week I begin a new adventure.
I have been working with the same company for quite a few years now. The work has been rewarding, but frustrating. As a teacher who enjoys self-reflection, I have been jealous of teachers working in smaller atmospheres who are able to better chronicle their teaching journeys online than I am. Not that the change is going to make that any easier; there are still privacy issues and other issues that will make my posts less personal and more general and generic. The exciting part of the journey, for me, is that I will be working in a space that is less white-washed, less corporate, less teacher-proof. It will (judging by my discussions with the director) provide me with an opportunity to bring new ideas to the table, new ways of looking at classroom issues, new possibilities to try, and new collaborations with other teachers.
I’ve never been in a collaborative classroom setting before. A travesty, I know. As much as I talk on this blog about working with others and discussing what is going on in the classroom and how important it is to be in communication with the other teachers involved, I’ve never been in that classroom before. I have wanted it. I have tried to have it. I haven’t been able to find it with any teacher that I have worked with. Maybe because I have tried to hard? Or because the place that I have been working is so teacher-proof? (Do you even know what I mean by teacher-proof? Everything is pretty much planned out in advance, from the curriculum to the activities – there really isn’t any aspect of the system that teachers can “mess up.” Corporate childcare centers are known for this approach. I’ve seen a lot of companies that are a lot worse than the one I’ve been working for, but I’ve longed to be in a place that is not so teacher-proof.)
I am excited by this opportunity. This coming week I get to sit down with the teacher that I will be working with – before I even start working! I’ve never been given the opportunity to do that before. I am really excited about that. I’m worried about being too eager, coming across as too…I don’t know. I’m nervous, I guess. I want this to go well so much, because it sounds like everything I’ve ever wanted in a classroom environment.
I’m putting my workshops on hold, at least for a little bit. I want to fully immerse myself in the experience that I am getting ready to have, to learn from it, and to participate fully in it. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am in a place where I will be able to learn from my job. That alone is exciting. I have been doing so much independent professional development because there hasn’t been all that much that I could learn from my job lately, and now I feel like I am taking a leap forward into more growth.
It is truly going to be an adventure.