It’s past my bedtime, but I dare say tomorrow I’ll get up past my waking time. I’m tired, looking forward to extra rest, but in general I’ve been getting recharged by teaching. Moving a little more away from that edge where one can barely plan one day at a time except on long weekends and holidays. Last year’s work on biology and environmental science have provided a bank of materials I like to go with major topics in bio. In the case of environmental science, which I patched together into a hodgepodge of a course last year, I can see the long view and how things ought to fit together. Plus the three different math classes seem to be going pretty well and the students like the pace (though apparently the science homework has been too heavy). I guess I like teaching math after all.
Really like the people I work with. I share my desk room (teach in a different one) with a fellow who was a lawyer before this and has a small farm, He plays electric guitar and brings his acoustic to play after school with anyone who wants to, including a few students who drop by to learn a few things. The other teacher down the hall was in a band, maybe more than one, in Australia, and brings his “axe”(just learned that term from my office mate) down for a jam. I’ve only participated once so far, but now I keep my acoustic on site and once I feel a little less behind after school, will pick up some tunes again. We all know a bunch of the same folk and rock, and lawyer farmer is going to bring in some bluegrass & roots, while I hope to learn the science and history songs the Aussie has written over the years a a teacher.
The other high school teacher is super supportive and positive, and is the lead teacher and a principal in training. Then there’s the crazy middle school teacher everyone loves best of all, because he yells at them, acts all gruff, does track and field, and doesn’t always follow protocol. They see through him pretty quick. He said teaching was life-changing for him. Started with coaching football, then when he applied to work in the school district he grew up in, a complete rascal all the way, they said they’d hire him on condition he never pulled any of those kind of stunts again. The other teacher said he went back and apologized to all his former middle school teachers after he started working. The other day I overheard him shout, “I’m going to make you write ’till your fingers bleed! Mwahaha!!!” Incredibly high energy too, says he’s always been kind of ADHD.
The principal is just very kind and supportive, humble as he climbs his own huge learning curve, and and also effective at what he does, so has earned the staff’s respect.
Parent volunteers have been great, too—one who has this huge nurturing gift, who I can tell is energized by reaching out in genuine ways to inquire about and bolster the state of our souls. Another was the one from Nova Scotia I met early on, though I haven’t seen her much. The three office staff are very hard working and efficient, though kind of in a different circle.
Getting to know the students has been slow but steady–twice a week and packed with content, have to figure out a better rhythm for the science classes. I’m realizing that the students know very little about the environmental systems of the Earth–didn’t know what the atmosphere was, for example, and I’m pretty sure an in depth look at climate change has been outside the purview of their homeschool education. So I’m looking forward to opening that and many other doors.
Speaking of doors, I’ve already opened the door into learning about evolution, and have had several conversations with one parent of two of my students about how I plan to teach on it, starting before classes even got started. Others are quietly buzzing around the periphery, so I much prefer her direct approach. There seemed to be a feeling that such parents are overly involved, but it sure beats the sudden and unexplained exit of a family over unknown concerns, which I’m told happens a few times every year. I invited this mom to come listen to the classes where I teach on Darwin’s ideas, though I said evolution is a thread throughout the whole year.
I’m excited to bring what I have to the table, or whiteboard, but I had to remind myself to take it slow–both for my own need to do only so many new or big or in depth things at a time in my first year her, and to keep from shaking anything up before I’ve established myself as a person who has a solid understanding of science, math, and high school students, as well as an appreciation of and respect for parents’ role as their kids’ primary educators. Like I told one mom when we were speaking about her son, who has communication problems yet to be filly diagnosed, she is the boss, and if teachers don’t get him or lay on too much work without enough support, she should protect him from that and let him learn from a space of peace, not stress and unreasonable expectations. As a high achiever herself, she seemed to need that reminder that school work was the servant, not the master.
Homeschool parents talk to each other a lot. I hope to send the word and have it spread that they can bring up concerns and issues and I will not be offended or feel interfered with, that I see myself as their delegated stand-in teacher of certain subjects. Also that I regard my role as a public school teacher as one from which I teach science from a scientific standpoint and do not plan to avoid any important aspect of well established scientific theory or practice, whether or not it seems to conflict with conservative religious views. Finally, that my main agenda as a teacher is the same as that of anyone of the Judeo-Christian tradition and many another tradition, to be a blessing to the people I serve.