Monday, August 22, 2005

Job security...

is not an issue for science teachers....

It's a long story, but my school is short one science teacher. And you just don't find good - any! - science teachers in August. The position has been posted for two weeks now, but we haven't found anyone. On to Plan B, which I don't like but am learning to live with:

First, we will reduce the number of periods of science per week to 4 for each class. That sucks, but it's all we can do at this point.

I will teach 6th grade science, Mr. Richter will teach 8th grade science, and we will split seventh grade. That's going to be interesting; we will each have one seventh grade class, but what to do with the third? Neither one of us can just take the last class altogether, because we wouldn't have enough prep periods. If we split that class between us, each teaching them twice a week, we'd have exactly the right number of teaching periods, but is that really good for the kids (or for us?). Another teacher suggested a compromise: I will take that class for a few weeks for the first unit, losing some preps while Mr. Richter has extra. At the end of that unit, Mr. Richter will take them for the next few weeks, so I will get my lost preps back while he loses some. And we will continue to alternate for the rest of the year. At least this way that class will have continuity for the duration of each unit. It could work.

It's not the extra classes that bother me - I would be teaching health those periods otherwise - it's cutting science classes and the lack of continuity for the kids and the necessity of planning together, which is much harder than planning on one's own. Someone will be sure to point out the silver lining of having two heads planning lessons and units instead of just one, and it's true, but I'd still rather have a third science teacher who could make seventh grade science his or her own!

Of course, we are going to keep looking for a teacher, but we have to begin planning as though we don't have one, because we don't.

The (new) high school upstairs doesn't have a science teacher, either, and my former student-teacher told me her school has science vacancies as well.

It's a tough job market: go into science teaching!

*****

I neglected to mention that teachers at my school are working from 8-12 this week.

Thanks to the lack of a science teacher, I feel more stressed out than inspired. This summer, although I've done many cool things, has felt a little jumbled and full of work - I worked for two weeks in July, then Confratute, and two weeks of studying and roommate-hunting when I came back from California. Ok, ok, I'm spoiled. I know that, but I still don't feel ready.

We are spending the week getting our classrooms ready and planning student orientation, which is half-days next week.

A high school based our same model is starting on the floor above us - the building will now have an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school. The principal is new and many of the teachers are brand new to teaching. We were a little wary of sharing space with them; if the high school is well-run, it will be a terrific collaborative opportunity, but if it's poorly run, we will have to deal with the side effects of sharing a building with rowdy older kids. And they have to use the bathrooms located on our floor.

When I arrived at school today, I visited their floor. It's beautiful! Everything freshly painted, artwork hung, bulletin boards covered. You can't judge a school by it's fadeless paper, but if you could, you'd think this was a good school. So that's a promising sign.

We had lunch with their staff today, which was great. I feel like lines of communication are open and I appreciate their energy and high expectations. Another promising sign.

The real test happens tomorrow, though - they have a few days of student orientation this week.

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