Friday, February 6, 2015

One week down

Congratulations to all my fellow #vicpln teachers who have survived the first full week of teaching for 2015.

This was my 33rd first week but let me tell you, it never gets any easier. The first couple of days are fine but by Wednesday 'the list' has started to mushroom out of control and you know you that there's a fair chance that on the very last day of the year there will be a lot of 'to do' items still waiting.

After a smooth orientation day for teachers and a terrific 'meet and greet' of students and parents last week, we were all fired up for a smooth start to the new school year. Goals were set, units planned, classes allocated , all systems go!

Every one is shiny and sparkling at the beginning of the year . There's only a handful of kids not in uniform ( "what do you mean, you'll get school shoes at the weekend? You've had 6 weeks to get new shoes!"). The latest intake of preppies are so cute I just want to sit and cuddle them all day. So do their parents. There are a few tears - not from the kids-with one family sending us the youngest of their six to complete a family set spanning the whole breadth of P-12. The new VCE students are resplendent in their blue jumpers and yet it seems only yesterday they were the preps. They're full of enthusiasm for the year ahead; full of promises and study timetables and potential. The VCE room is tidy (for probably the only time this year), there's a roster on the wall and a calendar that's already counting down to exams.

We have one new grad on staff and she's excited too. I'm envious of her. She has decades of these new beginnings to look forward to and mine are numbered. I feel grateful for my envy because it tells me I'm not ready to retire yet. I recognize the hint of fear gleaming in her eyes and I don't envy that. No one ever forgets their first few days in the classroom. Even Amelia's M Ed hasn't prepared her for the shock of 20 teenage faces looking at you expectantly and somewhat cynically while your brain is screaming 'What is it that I'm supposed to do now?' She's a good teacher and I know she'll be a survivor but this first term will be a very fast learning curve and she'll have to keep paddling to keep her head above water.

I've picked up a bigger teaching load this year. A bit of a drop in numbers and less government support has seen us drop two full time staff since last year and in order to maintain our extensive subject choice and small class sizes, everyone has to step up. I'm not unhappy about this because I love working in the classroom, but it does mean I have to be super organized if I'm going to manage the workload (not to mention joining crazy writing challenges at the same time). My first few lessons went just as I'd hoped but by mid week I was already battling the inevitable interruptions of sport and music lessons and kids away (umm, didn't we just finish the holidays?) and my well laid plans for the first unit started to move to Plan B, C and D mode.

On Thursday we had our first chorus rehearsal for this year's production of 'Cats'. A cast of 70, including 15 newbie year 5s, 6 major dances to choreograph, countless harmonies to learn, rehearsal schedules and publicity and communication with parents. Where to find the money for the new microphones we need and does the Chinese 'adult shop' on eBay still sell lycra body suits in child sizes? Who will organize the cast shirts and does anyone know where Old Deuteronomy's cape went last time we did this show? 'Jellicle Cats' has become an ear worm already.

By Friday the handful of new kids in the middle and senior school look like they've been with us forever. They all seem settled in their new home and the preps are already handling the playground like veterans.

One of the best things about being a teacher is that every year is a new year; new kids, new classes, different challenges. It's a clean slate and the opportunities are endless. I've been at work before 8 and after 5 every day this week but tonight I was gone by 4. Time for a cold drink and a day off before looking at the pile of 40 writer's notebooks waiting for correction so that can we start all over again on Monday.

Cheers to all my fellow educators. May the force be with you in 2015.

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