DI PIC

Before we get started, I wanted to make sure that we all took a few minutes to read the preface of the book. It was written simply with a pen and lots of HEART! If you don’t have your blog up and running, or need help with that, just message me and I’ll help you. If you rather not add the blog effect to your experience, then just post directly below! I hope that this little book study becomes as addictive to you all as it has become for me!

Follow these instructions:

Read the preface written by the author and respond to it as you felt it related to you. You do not need to follow any format at all, just respond to anything written as they apply to you personally as an educator. You may write these thoughts into your blog and share the link or if you would rather, reply directly on my blog. Remember, the most important part of the book study is to share YOUR experiences with each other. We all learn when we can collaborate and indulge ourselves in our reflections.

Happy Learning!

Mrs. P

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I began teaching in 2008 filled with passion and enthusiasm to make a difference in a child’s life. That passion and enthusiasm was quickly watered down after my assignments changed so frequently that I was learning curriculum and moving two or three times a year! I came into the school system during a difficult financial year for the district and a strict hiring freeze. I was unable to secure any permanent contract and had to hope for another temporary assignment as one was ending. I was very fortunate that I worked every month for the first four years, but it was at a great cost. Just like the author, Ms. Tomlinson described her naiveté  regarding her early years, I also endured my first four years. She wrote about specific students and circumstances that helped her sum up how she earned her stripes and I related in a similar way. I remember my first day, in my first class, and a special needs student punching me right on the face, knocking my reading glasses right off. At the time I wasn’t surprised or shocked by what had happened; so willing to educate her and teach her. About six weeks later I found myself on the floor after another physical confrontation vowing never to return to that classroom, even if it meant that I would never get hired again by the district!

After several calls from the district’s support staff offering me a permanent contract if I would return to that assignment, I remained steadfast to my desicion.  Fortunately, I was able to substitute teach for two weeks before my second assignment teaching a general education 4th grade class. It was a short stint, but by December of that year, I was finally on my way. I felt guilt at first, thinking I wasn’t worthy of my degree (I have a B.S. in Exceptional Student Education) but somehow I was slowly learning the skills to plan and manage a classroom. My second assignment started in January of 2009, teaching another Gen-ed class, but this was in the primary grades. I had to re-adjust again! During the fall of 2009, I was blessed with another four month assignment teaching in a Resource Room to 6th, 7th and 8th Grade SPED students. Here it was, my opportunity to develop as a teacher for students with special needs! It started and finished marvelously! It was wonderful to see that I was effective and was making a difference in the classroom. The next few months after that included teaching Middle School Earth Space Science to the Gen-ed and Gifted population at our school, Inclusion Teacher supporting the Gen-ed teachers during their literacy block and substitute teaching, but the opportunity to return to my Resource Room opened up again and I finished 2010 with my class! I did it, I got a permanent contract! I earned it back, so I thought. But the following year, more budget cuts and I was once more a temporary instructor in another Resource Room in the upper elementary grades.

The assignment was another good fit for me. I was given another chance to learn curriculum for varied grade levels and I was adding more experiences to my resume. I was ready for another good half-year and it was as wonderful as I expected.  In January I returned to school after the winter break, but now I would be teaching a 3rd grade Gen-ed class. Here I go again, I thought to myself on that very first day in 2011. Indeed more hours to invest after school in order to learn the new curriculum and the expectations of the results of the infamous FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) that spring. I worked 12 hours a day, I worked on weekends and I was drowning  to keep up! I was getting weary and wondered if it was all worth it. I was jealous of other teachers that had taught the same grade and subject area year after year. Why couldn’t I just learn one and get really good at it? Why couldn’t I land a permanent contract when there were so many unprofessional and unhappy teachers in the system? These are questions that I still have today, five years later!

The following school year brought yet more changes. I would again be an interim teacher, but I would be back in the 4th grade and with the same students from my 3rd grade class from the year before. This would be great! Half the battle is acclimating the students and parents and we had ended on a very positive note, so I was very happy. As it turned out, I was with my students all year as the interim teacher. It was the first time that I did not move classes, or grade levels, or assignments in four years! I had made it! I was a real teacher! At the end of the year, in spite of volunteering for the after school computer lab supervision and working the dismissal duty every day, rain or shine, attending all school meetings and events, I was told that I would not have a job in the fall.

Devastated!

How can I have given so much and not have a job to return to? I would have to start looking for a new school. It was a scary and nerve-wrecking time for me both professionally and personally. In the midst of this job search, my youngest daughter graduates from college and is also looking for a teaching position, my mother becomes gravely ill and I myself begin to feel that I will never find a teaching job again. Needless to say, it was a long and painful summer break. One day, just a week before the opening of the new school year, I  was standing at the check-out line at our local grocery store and a friend tells me of a position opening up in the school where she worked. I was so excited at the hope of working that fall! I went right home and composed an email directly to the principal and attached all my credentials; being proactive, I thought. Two days later, I received a call from the principal and learned that I had left out my resume! ARGH!!! How professional of me! What a way to make an impression, “the absent-minded professor” comes to mind.

Although I had left the resume out, I had included my Website, Twitter, Facebook Page and Blog links and these had been enough to have impressed her. WHEW! I thought I had blown it! When we spoke she seemed gracious and something told me that I was going to like working under her direction very much, but I still didn’t have the job, I would have to wait. The call finally came three days before the 1st day of school. I had two days to set up, write lessons and attend faculty and grade level meetings!

OH! MY!  “Here I go again!”

This was the fall of 2012 and now would be at a new school and a new grade level. In the past five years I had taught,1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades and I never taught any of them more than four months at a time! Here I was assigned to a 2nd grade class, another new curriculum to learn, but it didn’t matter, I had a job! Now- it was a rough start for me. I didn’t get my groove until October of that year for many reasons.  First I became ill, then I was re-assigned and would  be instead teaching reading in a Resource Room to 2nd graders and to a General-ed 3rd grade class. Finally, to make the adjustment worse, I also had to deal along side my husband who was also facing some serious health issues.

In January of 2013, I returned to school re-energized by the winter break and focussed on Student Portfolios and the FCAT. I was on a mission, I had to ensure that my students demonstrated growth and that I proved myself as an effective teacher who merited her position.

FAST-FORWARD: JUNE, 2013

The year ended and my students excelled. I successfully re-integrated to SPED students to an Inclusion setting, all but three of my students passed the FCAT and I received an excellent review. I renewed my certificate and I’m positive that I will have a job in the fall! Looking back at the past five years, I have realized that everything happens for a reason and for a purpose. The bible says:  “There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven.”

Indeed, the realities of the classroom and the challenges I have faced have only allowed for me to hone my craft and to develop as a person of faith. I am convinced that it has been part of the greater plan that the Lord has for me. I cannot say that I wished everything had been different, for I have learned so much! …and yes, I beat the statistics of teacher retention data! I am beginning my 6th year with more enthusiasm and passion that I had on that very first day back in 2008!

Now click here for a musical treat!

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