Monday, September 21, 2009

One day at a time

Coaching is NOT the same as teaching.

I knew it wouldn't be, but I had no idea how vastly different my days would be. I work for a branch of the public school system that services Catholic schools. So I kind of have the best of both worlds - I get paid by the school district but I get to work in the Catholic schools. It's a sweet deal. I'm assigned to 2 different schools... so on Mondays and Tuesdays I'm at one school, on Wednesdays and Thursdays I'm at the other... and on Fridays, all 13 of the coaches are at the office for meetings and prep time.

Some pros about my new job:
  • The commute is SO much better. Both of the schools are 10 minutes from my doorstep, and the office is only 20 minutes away.
  • Since it's a shorter drive, I can sleep a little later in the morning. Always a plus.
  • I don't have to grade tests, plan lessons, go to parent conferences, or volunteer for committees.
  • I don't have to stay late to clean a classroom or run copies... so my day ends earlier than I'm used to.
  • The salary (of course).
  • I go to 3 different buildings a week, so there's always a change of scenery and plenty of new people to talk to.

And, of course, some cons:

  • I don't feel useful yet. This time of year is always crazy for me, but now I'm just kinda hanging out, waiting to get to know the teachers before I start bothering them. I know I'll be busy soon, but for right now, I'm just bored.
  • Since I'm only part-time at both schools, I feel like a visitor. My old job was always my home away from home, so this feeling of displacement is alien to me.
  • And on that subject... I miss having a classroom space. Since both schools are small and I'm only part-time, I work out of the faculty room and I carry my bag everywhere. I'm like a hobo, but with better clothes :)
  • I miss my former students and co-workers VERY much. I try not to think about it... but it's definitely still a hard thing to deal with.

It's an adjustment. I'm not at all unhappy, but I think it will take some time before I'm completely comfortable.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Hello, internet!

I'm back... again. Some things have changed since I last wrote. At the end of July, I was offered a position as a Literacy Coach, and I accepted it. The decision to leave the Catholic school was definitely bittersweet. I loved everything about my old job except the salary... but I was ready to move on to bigger and better things. And not just for the money. After I finished grad school and got my Reading Specialist certificate, I started getting a little restless at the Catholic school.

I don't regret my decision to leave, but I do miss teaching. I miss decorating bulletin boards and organizing supplies. I miss chatting with my co-worker friends in the faculty room at lunch. I miss planning first grade activities and reading stories and singing the "Good Morning Song." And above all, I miss the kids. I REALLY miss the kids. I knew that would be the hardest part of leaving. Especially since I never got to say goodbye to the kids. I hate not having closure.

So... about my new job. I'm a Literacy Coach, which means I work primarily with K-3 teachers. I'm a resource for teachers who need new ideas for lessons and activities, I can provide professional development to the faculty, and I can model lessons for teachers. I assist the reading teacher with assessments when necessary and I help the teachers use the assessment data to plan lessons.

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Must I always be waiting, waiting on you?

Props to Jack Johnson for the title of this post.

I am still smack-dab in the middle of a job hunt. I don't know if it's this hard for other teachers, or if I'm doing something wrong, but this is the 3rd summer in a row that I've been sending resumes. On the plus side... this year, I had 3 interviews that resulted from resume packets that I sent out last summer. All were district screening interviews, which means if I "pass" I get placed on a list. And if there's an opening, a principal can pull my name from the list and call me for an interview. About a month ago, I had a panel interview for a Reading Specialist position. I thought it went really well, but I never heard back from them. The same week that I went for that interview, I applied for another position within the same district... this time for a Reading Coach position. Yesterday I went for the written portion of the examination for that position. Apparently there were 60 people who applied for the job, and there are only 10 openings. The written exam is pass/fail... if I pass, there will be an interview next week. So once again, I'm waiting to hear something.

I hate waiting.

And the thing is, I'm not even sure if this is the job I really want. A Reading Coach works mostly with teachers... and in this case, the coaches are assigned to 3 or 4 different schools, which means I won't really have a "home." I love reading, and I love sharing my ideas for teaching reading... but above all, I love teaching reading to kids. Am I ready to leave the classroom yet? I really don't know. What I do know is that I can't stay in the Catholic school system much longer. I just can't afford it.

Keep some fingers crossed for me.

Monday, June 29, 2009

No more pencils, no more books... ?

I know... I know...

I disappeared for a month. Or more. Again.

I had every intention of keeping the blog going, but it's so hard for me! Anyway. The school year is over at last, but don't think that means vacation time! The week after school ended, I spent 4 days in teacher inservice... the scintillating topic was "Creating Quality Assessments." Ooh... bet you're jealous. At least I got paid to go, so it wasn't a total waste. And for two of those days, I got to stay for several hours of summer school training.

The week after THAT (which was supposed to be my only free week until August), I got to babysit my adorable 13 month old godson. His father (my cousin's son, and also my godson) called me in a panic asking if I was free that week. Something about a scheduling conflict and his regular sitter being on vacation. Sigh. Of course I said yes. So I spent 5 days playing with the baby... watching the Sprout channel... changing diapers...

Which leads me to this week and (drumroll, please) ... summer school! Yeah, I caved. I'm teaching summer school. Not only am I teaching at my schoool, but in my own classroom. In fact, I'm teaching some of my former students. Talk about no vacation.

Today was the first day, and it was not without its mishaps. Per the instructions given in the tedious training sessions, I was supposed to test the kids in my group today. Each child is to be tested at their grade level, even if you have multiple levels in one group. Two minor setbacks... I had a K-1 group first, followed by a 2-3 group. All the K-2 tests have to be read to the students. I can't read two different tests at the same time, so that posed a problem. Turns out it didn't matter much, because they didn't send enough testing materials anyway, so I had to go right to Lesson One. Of course, today was the first time that I've actually laid eyes on any of the books (including the teacher's guide), so I had no time to review anything I was supposed to teach. The good thing is that it's a scripted curriculum, which I would normally hate. But it means no planning, which is awesome for summer school.

So that about brings us up to date. I'll make every effort to write more. I promise.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The joys of the job hunt.

I'm so freakin' lazy about this blog. For the past two years, it's been damn near impossible to sit down and write about my day. I'm trying, though. Really I am.

Anyway... I took a personal day yesterday because I had a district screening interview. I had a screening interview for a different school district back in November, and it was pretty much the same thing: brief interview with random district principal, consisting of a set list of very general questions (managing behavior, creating classroom climate, communicating with parents, assessing student learning, etc, etc...), followed by a 30 minute writing sample in a computer lab (they provide a question, I spend 30 minutes bullshitting an answer). These interviews are really more of a formality. They already have my paperwork packet, which includes my resume, cover letter, references, clearances, certificate and transcripts. They already know that they like my qualifications. In fact, one of the people who interviewed me yesterday said only 15% of applicants make it past the paperwork portion. So this step is really just so the district can say they saw me in person before they pass my name on to the school principals.

I think I did well, though. The downside is that there is no feedback given in this type of interview. If they approve of me, my name goes into a database that all district principals have access to. If there's an opening, one of the principals can contact me.

So as it stands right now, I'm on two eligibility lists already. In one school district, I'm eligible for a position as a reading teacher... however, I've recently been told that the district has cut reading teachers this past year due to funding. I'm also eligible for an elementary position in another district (the one that screened me in November). And as of yesterday, there's a good chance I'm eligible in that district as well (also for elementary). But being eligible doesn't necessarily mean I'll get hired. It's frustrating.

Soon I'll have to start thinking about looking for a summer job. I just don't feel like thinking that far ahead right now.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Two and a half days left...

... and then it's Easter break! A gloriously long "weekend," with no work from 12 PM next Wednesday until the Tuesday after Easter. That's five and a half days. I plan to enjoy every minute of my free time.

I've reached the point in the school year when I've had enough of the nonsense. This past week, I've found myself repeating rules that were laid down in September. Kids are coming to school without their folder or their take-home book... they're turning in incomplete homework assignments... they're full of ridiculously petty behavior that has "Spring Fever" written all over it. Oy. I had to pull out my "mean teacher" voice a LOT this week. Along with my disappointed face. (If I get early wrinkles, I know who to blame...)

On the plus side, my ADHD boy has been on meds since mid-March, and the change is unreal. He can sit at his desk without tapping his pencil or falling out of his chair. He finishes his work, and it's done neatly! His printing has gone from smudged scribbles to age-appropriate letters. His grades are already improving. He had failed spelling in the first and second marking period, but on the last two spelling tests, he's only gotten one word wrong. Amazing. I'm certainly not a firm believer in medicating difficult kids, but this proves that he just needed something to help him focus. And he feels so much better about himself. It's been wonderful to watch the transformation.

I can't believe it's April already. This year is flying...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A month of no Mondays.

From a teaching standpoint, I'm not a fan of four day weeks. Sure, I love having a day to sleep in and get my errands done. But I absolutely HATE starting the week on a Tuesday. I feel like I spend my whole week falling farther and farther behind, trying to play catch-up on my breaks. Nothing gets done.

This month has been full of weeks like that. The kids have had off 3 out of 5 Mondays this month: a snow day, report card conferences, and tomorrow is our faculty retreat day. The retreat day is required by the Archdiocese. It's supposed to be a day of rest, rejuvenation, reflection and reconnection. (I went with an "r" theme...) Some years I think it's a waste of time, other years I think it helps to refocus me (another "r"!) for the second half of the school year.

I don't know what to expect from this year's retreat. I think there's going to be a guest speaker of some sort and probably a prayer service. One good thing about this year is that we're not having the retreat at the school. There's something refreshing about being away from the school. Anytime I go to a workshop or seminar that's not held on school ground, I feel like I have a renewed energy about my job. (It doesn't always last, lol.)

I'm trying to go into tomorrow's retreat with a good attitude. Maybe I'll get something out of it this year. We'll see.