Monday, August 09, 2010

I tend to be a black and white kind of person, making decisions rather easily and accepting the outcome and consequences in stride. When faced with a choice, I make my pro con list and forge forward. My most recent decision has proven to be more complex.

When I started teaching, I was a special education teacher. I worked with primarily learning disabled students in an inclusion setting. I loved what I did for the most part but parts of my job left me feeling out of control and needing a challenge. When my principal called me and asked if I was interested in teaching 8th grade history the next year, I jumped at the chance. Then one year later, a 7th grade math position opened, and again, I made the change, never looking back.

My new position was tougher than special ed in many ways. I found myself constantly bogged down in grades and lesson plans, parent contacts and designing new projects. When social studies was added to my list of responsibilities, the To Do list grew. I didn't mind. I love/d my job. I love/d the kids. I love the challenge. I loved sharing my love of math and the world with my kids.

Our district is shrinking. When I came here in 1995, there were nearly 1300 students, K-12. Now, we are just under 800. There are no jobs. People come, people go. But few stay. It is still a great place to live, a terrific place to raise a family, and has become home to me. But the reality of the smallness means that each year, teaching positions are cut, shuffling occurs, and people end up teaching out of their comfort zone.

When a special ed position opened up for the fall, I was torn. I really love what I do. But the thought of someday getting shuffled to elementary, where I might be assigned a different grade each year, is terrifying. I really do NOT like little kids! I cannot imagine teaching kindergarten. The new position would be all inclusion hours, mostly inthe high school. But in the future, I could have more control over where I was put, helping carve out my own schedule. I would not be subjected to the constant shuffling that is sometimes the case in the elementary. I would have some security in what I would do each upcoming school year.

This job would mean less time at school, more time to spend with my granddaughter. It would be an opportunity to work with kids who need me, need that extra oomph to make it to graduation. It would give me a chance to work with other teachers, some of whom I would be excited to share that responsibility with, others, not so much. It could lead to designing the middle school math special ed program to what I think would work best for those struggling students who seem to get lost in the shuffle.

It would mean leaving a job I love, a job where I have every 7th grader who comes to our school, where I know them all, good, bad or ugly, and they know me, good, bad or ugly. It would mean letting go of the 7th grade math program I have worked so hard to design, and letting go of the 7th grade social studies curriculum I have grown to have an intense love/hate relationship with.

Taking the job would most likely mean packing and moving from the classroom I've been in for nearly 10 years. It would mean playing 2nd fiddle in classrooms, sometimes just a figure head of a teacher, no real teaching, just a secondary role player, trying to help my kids as I could.

But... I applied for the position, and now.. I wait. There are some politics going on that may help or hinder my decision, things out of my control, that leave me hanging in limbo as the school year presses ever closer..... and here I sit, still not knowing what the right decision is, what I really want to happen. All I want it to know, a decision made, so I can move forward and get on with my teaching life.

1 comment:

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