Wednesday, April 19, 2017

iTeach it All. My Re-introduction to the world of Blogging


Welcome to my new blog: iTeach it All!

After a long break from my previous blog, I decided to jump back in and start writing again.  For a couple years, I had a blog called "Just Teach It."  My posts were focused on my teaching experience in a suburban, elementary school where I taught 1st and 2nd grade.  After previously teaching Kindergarten, it was an exciting adventure to work on different challenges with my students.  I used my blog mostly as a personal, reflection piece.  I shared the activities I had been doing with my kiddos, and was able to step outside of my hectic life and really take a look at what I was doing.

As much as I loved blogging, it was through this hobby that I eventually saw that I was not where I wanted to be.  There were many things that I loved about teaching 1st and 2nd graders, but there were so many other things that were making me miserable.  I was drained of energy and desperately missing my time with my then two year old. Working at my school was emotionally exhausting.  It was a very competitive and negative environment.  I knew early in the year that the school would be collapsing at least one, if not two, 1st/2nd grade classes, and that meant I would be out of a job.  I worked to be the best teacher I could so that I might not be the one cut.  On the day I was officially let go, I was horribly sad - sad to leave the kids and sad to leave the programs that I had started; but, I was also ridiculously relieved.  No more watching over my shoulder to see if someone would throw me under the bus to move up in the school hierarchy.  No more new teacher hazing.  No more arguments between different teaching teams.  No more living in an adult version of the movie "Mean Girls."   Although I was tempted at first, I did not reapply for any of the open positions in that district.  I just moved on.

I knew that I did not want to leave teaching altogether, but also I knew that I did not want to repeat the same drama in a different school.  An assistant principal friend of mine trusted me enough to offer me a job teaching in an area completely out of my wheelhouse: a position as an urban high school, reading intervention teacher.  I took the job.  And fell in love.  I worked so hard to build a successful reading program, and by my second year was made department chair and PLC lead.  I had wanted to keep the blog going through a new lens, but I was 100% devoted to doing the best I could in my new world.  Blogging had to go.  Soon I was not only teaching reading intervention, but I was tasked with  developing a study skills and reading strategies class.  I also began teaching dance electives, which allowed me to continue teaching my first love to a whole new population.  Of course there were some issues and lots of drama, but even with the problems, I was so much happier than I had been in suburbia.  I thought I had found my new home, even though it was far from perfect.  And then, three years after starting my high school teacher journey and during a budget crisis, my principal called me in to say that based on our reading scores and the current state of the budget, our school would be cutting all reading classes.  As my principal tried to joke a bit and make me feel better, he said, "you did so well you taught yourself out of a job."

Not the type of story you want to blog about.  I was devastated.  Completely disheartened.

I was then placed by my district at an extremely struggling school.  In my new position, I would be teaching the same courses I did before, but to a difficult population of high schoolers, as well as sixth grade ELA.  I was not excited to go there, but it was a job.  I was miserable.  My safety was threatened on a daily basis.  I had things thrown at me, kicked at me, and things said to me that would make a sailor blush.  My family was worried about my safety, and my health was failing.  Our administrators were deplorable.  You see, this is a school that had not been making AYP.  The reading proficiency scores that year were 14%.  Fourteen.  The school's admin were doing whatever necessary to sneak things by the district, even if it meant flat out lying.  The disservice that school did to our students was despicable.  I made reports to both the union and district; but no one wanted to take on the problems.  The fear of being black-balled was too strong.  I resigned in February for the following year, thinking I may not teach again.  I was burnt out and had completely lost my faith in public education.

Then, in May, something unexpected happened.  The principal from my daughter's school called me and told me that there was an opening at their school that I might be interested in, and invited me to come interview.   By the first week of June I was hired as the new sixth grade ELA and 8th grade reading/writing intervention teacher at a highly regarded, Catholic school.  Within in a few months I went from giving up my teaching aspirations, to being completely swept up in the excitement of new possibilities.

The changes this job has brought to my life have been immeasurable.  Not only do I love teaching again, but my creativity has been reignited.  I feel so energized and inspired!  I had begun to believe I would never find a school where teachers were not only kind to each other, but also supported each other in every endeavor.  This school set me straight.  It truly feels like everyone is working together.  The kindness is inspiring.  I've been there for 9 months now, and I have yet to hear a gripe from anyone.  Anyone.  Unbelievable.  I woke up today and felt like I was ready to write again.  I NEED to write again.

This blog re-introduction is my way of sharing the joy I have found in my new school.  I hope that I can not only share my reborn positivity and creativity, but connect with other teachers and share experiences.  My new blog title, "iTeach it All," is really symbolic of how I ended up where I am today.  From Kindergarten, to 1st and 2nd grades, to urban high school reading intervention, dance, and study skills, and now a middle school English and literature teacher at a private school, I often feel as though these experiences together have brought me to a place where I not only can "teach it all," but that I DO teach it all.

When I started "Just Teach It," I was so excited to share and see my views counter go up every day.  When, I finally revisited and ultimately removed that blog a few weeks ago, I had over 35,000 new views.  Not bad for a blog that has been quiet for almost 5 years.  As much as I enjoyed that feeling of sharing my adventures with the world back then, I am no longer drawn to share with the whole world.  I will share with anyone who wants to hear my journey and share my renewed spirit for teaching.  Even if that is just a few friends.  I love to write and I love to write about my teaching experiences.  That's all that matters today.


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