If this post ends in the middle of a sentence or the middle of a word, you have to forgive me. I’m writing this in a supine position, eyelids drawing down upon my eyes like a thick haze on a hot summer day in New York City. That’s an appropriate enough simile, given that’s what this week has been.
Normally the blanket of humidity isn’t much of an issue to me. Today, though, it surely was. Finally, after much consternation, anticipation, desperation, and eventually elation, I got into my new classroom. It’s up, up, up and away on the fifth floor, and when you’re shlepping boxes and books and everything but the kitchen sink (there’s one in the room, so I left mine at home) you’re gonna hit some fatigue. Or at least fatigue is going to hit some you.
Why did I only get in today when the kids report for duty on Wednesday? There was a, shall we say, slight mishap that threatened to usurp my position, but all that matters is that, in the end, everything has worked itself out.
My first two years of teaching (you joined me last year midway through my second) were spent in a fifth grade general ed class. You know how much I enjoyed it, of course. What you don’t know, though, is that my position was compromised by the hiring freeze and budget constraints that have become part of the landscape in New York City. Faced with the prospect of unemployment, I bunched up on graduate courses this summer and acquired my license to teach special education.
And that’s what I’ll be doing this year. I’ve made the switch to a self-contained special education room. Would you believe I’ll actually be teaching a combo class of first and second graders? What a big difference it’ll be from the last two years. A step outside my zone of comfort? Yeah, you might say that. But it’s also a phenomenal challenge and a chance to be loosed from the bonds of standardized testing that so dominate the upper grades. You can be sure that when people walk by Mr. Foteah’s room, they’re going to hear kids having fun! (And not the fun that goes with my test prep organization).
I *only* have 12 little rugrats in my class. I am thrilled at the prospects of more individual and intense instruction for each child. Of course, my room is just a wee bit tiny (picture a queen size bedroom, perhaps?) and so I am being forced to find ways to be resourceful with my space and my sanity. But, hey, I’ve got a SMART Board (and no computer to go with it).
Kudos to Mama Foteah and Sis Foteah for their stirring support and assistance today in the non-air conditioned sweatbox. It was a gritty grind. We got in about 9:30, confronted with masses of materials that belonged to several years of teachers. (Is this what they consider a welcome gift?) We left at about 4 with bulletin boards backed, nameplates on the desks, books in the closet, and hand cutouts and border on the door.
For one day of work, it was significant progress. But you can bet I’ll be there late on Tuesday. There is just so much to be done, it’s actually insane. It takes me back to my first year when things were all over the room as the kids walked in, probably thinking they accidentally stumbled into a warehouse for incompetent teachers. I’m going to have to pick up a lot as I go, but thankfully, I’ve got a new AP who should be fairly helpful, and have a decent amount of friends in these grades on which I can rely to a certain degree.
So that’s that. I’m on the way, things are falling into place. Year Three kicks off Wednesday, when 4 first graders and 8 second graders drag their little selves up to the roof and slip in past a brightly decorated door into a tiny but inviting room that will be our’s to share and learn in.
I’d like to say more, but I’m half asleep, and I did warn you that I might fall asleep in the middle of…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.