Because we are rather rural and it is incredibly hot and dry here, my school qualifies for a “Climatic Disability Allowance” and an extra week summer holidays.
Everyone back in Winnipeg battling the worst winter in recorded history is rolling their eyes in disbelief. Yes, it is hard to beat having to clear 2m tall snow drifts in -42c weather to find the car for weeks on end. Let’s just say the NSW Department of Education and Communities knows how to treat their staff and recognizes the challenges of living in extreme weather and locations!
Today I spent the day at the school – wandering around, mostly; sitting, staring at the walls thinking, meditating, and getting into my teaching/learning space. I recall my first teaching job and walking into the classroom full of books, binders, and resources. Where do you start? How much do you have to read before classes start? How on Earth will I be able to manage it all?!
Of course, more than 20 years later, some of those same feelings emerged walking into my office space and then the classroom. I have been dealing with the same grade and the same curricular outcomes for the last 12 years which brings a great deal of comfort, confidence, and a firm foundation for experimentation and innovation. Here, flipping through the planning binders my exchange partner left for me (extremely well organized and tremendously detailed! Thanks Matt!) everything felt a little uncomfortable and uncertain – though this time I have the benefit of a couple decades of experience.
I started by making a file for my timetable – that helped me understand the flow of the day and the groups of students with whom I would spend the day. Later I went through all the planning documents for a couple of the courses: scope and sequence, unit plans tied to curricular outcomes, assessment tasks. That helped me get a sense of the planning requirements, terms used, and the flow of the year. Also poked around the classroom a bit to see what was there for texts, resources, and flipped through some documents related to the school’s personal management strategies. Also got my department network login and email which is exciting in its own way.
That was a good first day – gave me some context for understanding the work environment. Tomorrow I’m hoping to get class lists and maybe some pictures so I can focus on the most important part of the job – my students. I’ll be walking into that classroom on the first day of school just as much a learner as the students there with me.