I was reading my friend Megs' blog yesterday and it got me thinking about the upcoming school year. She is a teacher like me and is making a big switch from 2nd to 6th grade, I know she'll do a great job. Before I moved to Texas to pursue my dream of being a teacher, I had to opportunity to spend a day in her 5th grade classroom. Seeing her with her students cemented my desire to teach. She inspired me to go for it because she and I are a lot alike in many ways. Plus, we look a lot alike and when we worked together at a restaurant, quite a few people would do double takes at us. Pretty funny. Like I was saying, her blog made me think about next year and while I'm not moving grade levels, I am going to be taking on a lot and am wondering when enough is enough. For example, I was delighted to learn that I was selected to be part of a "Redefining Instruction" cohort for the upcoming year. The members were chosen through application and I was one of the four chosen. I don't think many people applied and I think it's because it's a very labor intensive process. I'll be teamed up with our vice-principal, and she'll be coaching me through next year, pushing me towards becoming a better teacher. That's all I want to be everyday, is a better teacher. This cohort will be a lot of work though; weekly meetings, weekly observations, taping my lessons, getting down and dirty with curriculum, numerous book studies and some intensive self reflection. I'm excited to do it, but I don't take it for granted that it will be a lot of work. I mean, teaching already is a lot of work, so just imagine putting that on top of it.
Then, I've said for the past two years that I will be bilingual lead teacher next year. I love being a bilingual teacher and I love bilingual instruction. I'm ready to take the position to lead the other bilingual teachers on our campus and I've already committed to the group of teachers on the team that I will do it. This leadership role, in my opinion, isn't too labor intensive. Essentially, the lead teacher attends district meetings and then holds a campus meeting thereafter. I only have to hold two to three meetings a year. My goal is to also hold a bilingual parents information meeting next year to inform the parents of the bilingual program and all that, but all that planning will be early next year. I will also make sure the bilingual team is informed about bilingual professional developments and required trainings. Not a hard role to fill at all. So there's that.
Also, there will be some changes on our grade level this coming year. Our team leader this year has completed her two year committment as team leader and is ready to step aside. I have volunteered to lead the third grade team this year, but this is a more daunting task. First of all, we have a really strong grade level and a certain level of recognition on our campus. I owe this to our current team leader and I don't know if I can live up to all she's done. This is a more involved leadership position because you are overseeing the goings-on of a whole grade level. It's much more of a managment position. In addition to organizing field trips, buses, lunches, the whole bit, you must hold weekly grade level meetings, convey important info from administration to your grade level and make sure that everyone is doing their job. That's the hard part, because sometimes, everyone is not doing their job. I have no problem with telling my students over and over what to do because they're 8. I do have a problem with having to do the same with adults and I guess I will have to get over that. Luckily, this year we have not had this problem on our grade level. I can say with confidence that we teach with high expectations and while we might do something a different way, the intended outcome is the same. But who knows what next year holds as there are going to be some third grade staffing changes. As my principal said, whoever is put in third grade will need to conform to what we are already doing because it works, and as leader, it would be my job to make sure that happens.
That's just the extra stuff. I will still be expected to teach and nurture my students next year too. I am excited for next year because it's time that I step up and be more of a campus leader. It all goes back to this: I love my job. It is fulfilling and exciting and never boring. Yes, it's frustrating and maddening at times, but the core of it is this: my students are my stars, the little lights of my life. I take my job very seriously, because I have a very important role in my student's life. I'll leave you with a poem my vice principal gave to me during our first cohort meeting:
The Star Polisher
"My job is to take the stars in, and shine them and buff themand then send them out into the sky"
I have a great job in the universe of occupations. What do I do? I'm a "star polisher."
It's a very important job. If you want to know how important, just go out at night and look at the stars twinkling and sparkling.
You see, I'm a teacher. The stars are the children in my class. My job is to take them in - in whatever shape they come - and shine and buff them and then send them out to take their places as bright little twinkling beacons in the sky.
They come into my room in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they're bent, tarnished, dirty, crinkly and broken. Some stars are cuddly, soft and sweet. Some stars are prickly and thorny.
As I buff, polish, train and teach my little stars, I tell them that the world cannot do without them. I tell them they can do anything they set their minds to do. I tell them they can be the brightest, shiniest stars in the sky and the world will be a better place because of them.
Each night as I look at the sky, I'm reminded of my very important job and awesome responsibility. I go and get my soft buffing cloth and my bottle of polish in preparation for tomorrow and for my class of little stars.
My favorite stanza is the fifth one. The world cannot do without those students and when I seem them (I know this is corny), I see everything our world can be. So, I don't know how much is too much, but if what I choose to do next year will make me a better teacher, I'm ready for it.