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Monday, August 17, 2009

A Breath of Fresh Air!

As many of you know today was my first day of orientation at the new charter school. About halfway through my day I emailed Phoenix Ryzing and told him he needs to move across the state and come work at this school. And frankly my dear, I don't give a damn if you teach preschool! Just kidding. But as you can see from my enthusiastic attempt at recruiting a fellow teacher and photographer into my own twisted little world, I was greatly impressed by my first day. Strangely I am the veteran teacher on the staff with 10 years under my belt. Most of the people I am working with are "newbies", this being their first year in a classroom. Many of the others have taught elsewhere for a year or two but this is their first time at a charter school.

Now, the thing that solidly won me over... DEAR. For those of you who don't know what DEAR is, it stands for "Drop Everything and Read". During homeroom teachers are supposed to yell "Drop everything and read!" (yeah, I'm going to wind up yelling "Stop Drop and Roll!" or something to that effect) and the kids are supposed to stop what they're doing and pick up a book of their choice. The main goal is to start encouraging students to love reading. What I really love about it is that the teachers are required to model. In other words, we too are supposed to kick back with a good book for 25 minutes every morning. Can you possibly think of a better way to start your day than with a cup of coffee and a good book with your class? Didn't think so!

My room is adorable. It's about half the size of the regular classrooms but in this particular building that's still fairly large. I have one wall that is a giant bulletin board and one wall that is all glass, looking out into the hallway. I'm directly across the hall from the art teacher who is an absolute darling! Sorry my dear art teacher, but I'm going to be in your classroom constantly! (Ah if only I could recruit Brazen!) Anyway, there is plenty of wall space to hang my photos and my vintage poster of JFK (yes, I'm THAT much of a nerd) but strangely there is also a standing display case in my room. I'm actually hoping that I get to keep it so that I can display some of the odder things I have collected over the years that may very well be of interest to some of my students.

On to some of my other favorite things that I learned today. The kids are required to wear uniforms. There are no words to describe how much it thrills me to know I will no longer have to endure 12 year olds in booty shorts. Our day is 8 to 5 which includes an hour after school of clubs and tutoring. Everything in the school is done on a database which means all lesson plans, grades, and discipline records are available online. Plans have to be done a week in advance (YAY!) so no more chasing teachers to find out what they're doing for the week so we won't have NO SURPRISES! The school has a major focus on technology so we're expected to be computer savvy as well as familiar with technological gadgets, to which I am hopelessly addicted. It's wonderful to feel at home pulling out my BlackBerry or my ITouch to check my calendar or send an email!

On top of that, there is also a strong emphasis on the arts. I had a wonderful time chatting with the art teacher about plans for an after school photography club (YAY AGAIN!) as well as expandeing the kids' horizons with other art forms that aren't typically visited in a public school curriculum.

I could go on and on but it was only the first day and there's so much more to come. So Day 1 down and so far the score is Charter School: 10. Public School: ZIP!


  1. Oh it sounds like this might be a case of "I told you so", but I won't do that.

    Sorry that I've given you such a late response to this post. My computer has been turned off to avoid the extra heat that comes from it.

    It sounds like you're having a great time though and I'm very happy for you. I believe this is the right fit for you and the whole reading aspect of it really sounds amazing. I wish more schools were like that.

  2. So glad I found your blog! In June I was hired as a charter school teacher and my first day of orientation was also on Monday, so for a second I thought we might be colleagues. :) But my school has been up and running for three years already, so I guess not. I am one of two special education teachers for grades 6 through 8, so it sounds like you and I will have a lot in common -- I look forward to following your blog throughout the schoolyear!