This past school year was neither good, nor bad. I really liked my class (most of the time), but found that the attitude about learning (and working to learn) was different than where I had come from. The kids were just not that motivated. As a grade level we tried all kinds of things to get them to achieve at a higher level, and that helped somewhat. Most of the parents were supportive, but I had just one regular volunteer. It's funny how different this school is from where I was, and I'm probably less than two miles from my old school.
The person I work for hasn't been a principal for very long. Her management style is not one I admire. She definitely works hard, but the consensus is that she is a micro-manager and that she favors a small group of staff members over the rest of us. After working seven years for an incredibly professional and fair administrator in the recent past, it is hard for me to work for someone who isn't like that. We did not get off on the right foot at the beginning of the year, and I felt very defensive for several months. Then she backed off for a while, and by the end of the year she was making an effort to be more friendly and complimentary. But after being treated poorly early on, it's not easy for me to believe that she's sincere. Time will tell.
Morale is very low, and anyone who could retire at the end of the year did. Furthermore, our school district is struggling with the severe budget cuts our mismanaged state has imposed upon us, and we're in contentious contract negotiations. The district laid off nearly 40 temporary teachers as the school year closed. It's just a crappy time for public education (and so many industries, for that matter).
Anyway, as we neared the time where we could put in our requests for next year's assignments, I knew what I wanted to do, but I also realized that I was not a person whom my administrator would seek to please. So I began to pray about it. I prayed that the Lord would help me accept whatever was given to me. I have been disappointed with my grade placement every year since 2009, and I have not dealt well with it. It was hard to see others with less seniority get their preference and be stuck year after year in a grade level that I'm tired of teaching. As it turned out, her plans for me initially were for fourth grade, or fifth grade, or a 4/5 combination class. In other words, whatever would be leftover in those grade levels. I just smiled and said, "Sure, whatever you need me to do." That had to be the Holy Spirit because in years past I would have flipped.
During the last couple weeks of school it became apparent that a fifth grade teacher would retire, and at that point I was told I would be teaching fifth grade and moving out into a portable classroom. I surprised myself with being excited about the assignment. The two other fifth grade teachers are ladies I really enjoy having lunch with, and we seem like we'll be compatible teammates. I'm also excited to get out of the open-concept building, and into a room with walls. The noise from the other classrooms made me crazy at times last year.
Lastly, when we made up new classes for the coming year, I was able to keep about a dozen of my current students and "roll up" with them to fifth grade. They are good kids, and I know we'll enjoy spending another year together.
After just three days off, I'm still in school mode. My thoughts are frequently on decorating my new classroom, learning the fifth grade curriculum, and some of the irritations of the past few weeks. I sure hope I can detach myself from all that in the next few days and enjoy my vacation instead.