Up for Air, briefly

I’ve just completed my ninth teaching day in my new job. As it has been two years and two terms since my last teaching gig, I have felt every hour of it.

The first nervous drive to work, the fretting about where I might sit in the staff room (I’m kidding, I’m not that shy) and all the energy that went into those first few moments with each of my five new classes has certainly sorted out much of the insomnia I have been experiencing since the Canterbury quakes began.

But it’s soooooooo much fun. My colleagues couldn’t be more welcoming, or witty, and the students have impressed with how readily they smile and their care for success. As with any new role, I’m seeing ideas and strategies and innovations and ways of doing things in the school that are refreshing and exciting.

So far what I have been delivering has been bread and butter stuff. The key goal was to get to know the students and where they are as individual learners (haven’t even scratched the surface) and aim to reach the end of the year with success. The names! All those Ellas and Bellas and Jaimes and James.

There is a degree of scrambling in lesson delivery; there are wide reading, connections across texts and other threads to try and grab tidily and we are hurtling towards school exams in Week 5. I’m still a way from finding my educator stride.

All told though the on ramp has been smooth enough till now. And the sleep is delicious.


Heading back in!

I qualified as a teacher in December 1995.

Since then I have been a dean, an assistant HOD, an HOD, a teacher-librarian, an NZQA contractor, NZQA marker, exam centre manager,  a school communications manager, a report proofer, prize giving organiser, and lived in a boarding house with 65 extra sons.  I have also become a mum.

What I have NOT been is a fully focused full time classroom teacher. Since 1995, I have been distracted, stretched or spread too thin by the wonderful opportunities listed above. For the past ten years I have not taught in a full time capacity and for the past two I have not been in a classroom at all.

So I am going back to teaching and nothing else.  To attempt to become the best classroom practitioner I can be.  Beginning on Monday.

As I make my way back to the ‘coal face’ in a school which is completely new to me, I will be lugging with me all that experience, life and professional, and filtering it to see what is useful and what applies. Exciting times. I hope to be both realistic in the face of this challenge, and positive in attitude.

And in addition to the old toolbox, dusted off and ready to go (I hope), I am arming myself with all of the delicious pedagogy discussed and shared online from all corners of the world.  Throughout my absence from the classroom, and from my part time role still within a school, I have tried very hard to keep across developments in education in New Zealand. There is some seriously impressive stuff happening!

What I can’t prepare for is how I will be received.  Their teacher was beloved. And bubbly, I’m told. (Bubbly I am not. Prickly might be closer to the first impression I give!)  They may well push back against the change, and against my brand of enthusiasm. And what I cannot quantify is the impact this will have on my family – my children are now 10 and 13, and they have not seen me give full noise to my career – or the workload of an English teacher in 2014.

Another aspect is that I am moving from a heavily traditional independent school back to a dynamic and diverse large state school similar to the one in which I began my career.  The opportunity for comparison and judgment will be impossible to dodge. Starting with an open mind, the intention is to reflect honestly on what I see.

Goal 1: The students first. Their teacher is changing mid-year. Not unexpected (she is having baby) but not ideal. Get their measure, understand their needs, deliver some quality lessons and get us all to the end of term 4 with success.

Goal 2: Establish myself within the department and school. Sharing with and learning from my new colleagues as I ‘on ramp’.

Goal 3: Leap in to all of the new channels for professional development. Listen. Share. Learn. Resurrect my recently latent expertise, and study and research what applies now.

Goal 4: Digital organisation. (I’m an Evernote fangirl and have been for a long time)

Here goes …..



Twitter: @jacqchch