It is the eve of the eve of the first day of school for 2019!
I am so excited for this year. I've made some big changes and thus far, all signs point to those changes being for the good.
I am always a nervous wreck the night before school. I'm positive that tomorrow won't be any different. I'm not nervous because I worry that I'm not a good or effective teacher. I mean, I feel like I know what I'm doing at this point, but I certainly still have those freak out moments of "what if they all hate me? What if I can't remember their names? What if I really can't connect with middle schoolers?!" [I know this last one is untrue because I've worked with middle schoolers in summer school and I seemed to connect just fine with the 8th graders I was helping at open house to get their IDs.]
I will tell you something I am absolutely NOT worried about. I am not worried that I won't fit in at my new district. I am not worried that I can't be myself. I am not worried that people will think I am trying to be something I am not. In every conversation I have had, from the other teachers to some of the support staff to a couple of principals, I have feel welcomed, supported and listened to.
On Thursday, I laid bare a few of my fears to one of my principals. I admitted it's my 14th year teaching, but I feel a bit like a first year teacher because so much is new. He was so gracious and said he thought that was normal but that everyone would help with any questions I have. And so far, they have.
I can't remember the last time I was this excited for a school year to begin. Partly because this is a brand new role for me and I get to kind of feel it out and make it my own, which is really exciting. But also partly because it has already been proven to me that I will be supported, appreciated and looked at as a member of the team.
I know the role I'm in has had many iterations over the last few years because there were only two ESL teachers. Now that we have 3, the roles can include more co-teaching and support than it could previously. In some conversations with teachers at my middle school, I've mentioned that I probably would be visiting their classes if we share students. Not one single person gave me any indication that it would be a problem. In fact, they welcomed the idea. "Come on in anytime!" was the most common response.
I've spent some time this weekend putting together a spreadsheet of the schedules I do have. (One of my first tasks this week is to get a copy of the schedules of my students who aren't in my EL class but are on my caseload.) This way I can set up a schedule for pushing in to best support the students AND the teachers.
I was speaking to a science teacher at the end of our training on Thursday morning. I mentioned something about what I want my role to be. I said something about possibly helping teachers to make language objectives to help the EL students and said, "and honestly as long as I know what your objective is, *I* can make those language objectives and I'd be happy to do so." She seemed really thrilled with that and I suspect the other staff will respond the same way.
I'm sad to say I have never experienced such a positive culture in a school before. Ever. Now that I have, it really strikes me and gives me pause. I am not here to badmouth my previous experiences -- every school and team taught me something. I was there for a purpose in that moment in time. However, I'm also not going to lie and say that I don't see the major differences in my previous experiences and this one. Truly the culture is just different.
Every day something happens that makes me feel even more grateful that I made this move. So while I also know that tomorrow night I will probably be sweating bullets as the first day approaches, I also know I am going into a position that is going to allow me to be the teacher and leader I want to be.