First day of school

Today was my first day of school. Well, sort of… it was a pupil-free day. Tomorrow will be the first day of instruction.

The day began with staff meetings, professional development, then photos for ID cards and other administrative tasks. The process of starting up at this school has been chaotic; I’m not sure if other schools are this chaotic or if this is just par for schools in our district. Tomorrow is the first day of instruction and I do not know what classes I’ll be teaching. I think I’ll be teaching Algebra I and Geometry, but I don’t know how many classes of each, or if I’ll have other classes. Other teachers also seem to be in the same boat. I also don’t have keys, access cards or class lists. I’m told that it will be a few weeks before students stop shifting around between classes and my class roster will congeal.

But I should also back up and explain that I technically don’t have a job yet either. Ah–the joys of being a professor teaching in a public high school without a credential! This school’s district is a large one, and due to recent budget problems in California, our school district is supposed to find jobs for those teachers who were laid off before they take any teachers from outside the district. People like me, who aren’t credentialed in the usual way, are probably the lowest priority of all to be hired. (Incidentally, California Senate Bill 859, which was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2007, authorizes the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to issue the Visiting Faculty Permits to allow people like me to teach in primary and secondary schools. But, I still not credentialed in the usual way like other teachers.)

RCHS (the pseudonym for my school) has offered me a position, but the school district won’t let them hire me yet. The principal is working on correcting the situation, but there’s no way to know how long it will be until I officially get hired. So, what is going to happen tomorrow? Good question! There will be a substitute teacher in my assigned classes for the foreseeable future. However, since I would really like to establish a connection with my class from the first day so I plan to go to class anyway (without getting paid). This substitute teacher must be in the room at all times as I am not legally allowed to be in the room with students by myself. I’m hoping the conversation with the substitute teacher isn’t awkward tomorrow…(“Hi! I’m the person the want to hire to teach this class, so can you just help me by staying in the room while I teach?”)

Another thing that happened today: During the all-school staff meeting this morning, the principal introduced all the new faculty. She introduced me as Dr. So-and-so, from so-and-so college, who is at the school to help improve math instruction. She meant no harm by it, I’m sure, but I was disappointed to have been outed to the entire school. I really wanted to stay under the radar and not let people know about my unusual situation. And the last thing I want people to think is that I’m some snotty professor who has come to their lowly high school to tell them what to do. Later on, I was having a conversation with another teacher who said to me “Oh, you’re Doctor So-and-so from that college…” (emphasizing the word “doctor” in a weird way as he said it).

Tomorrow will be an adventure. Can’t wait.

14 thoughts on “First day of school

  1. Duuuuuuddddee! I am so glad you are (hopefully) getting a chance to be in the classroom at the secondary level. I wish you only the best in your adventure. Hope we get to talk soon!

    – Natan

  2. Oh my. The principal really did you and her other teachers a dis-service by outing you. Two weeks without a roster?! I can’t imagine not knowing who is suppose to be in my class (and not jumping on follow-up for students who are suppose to be there but aren’t). Wow. I’m so glad you’re blogging about your experience. I look forward to following the adventure.

  3. Congrats on starting, and I send my prayers and good karma to you and your school for a smoother second day. I am so grateful for how smoothly things are going for me at my school: It’s private, and families spend a considerable penny to be there. But the differences in administrative and departmental support sound vast, to say the least. I received my class lists a week ago, and knew what I was teaching three months ago. while there are a few shuffles of students here and there, I already have information about the students entering my classes. In fact, when I asked a couple of questions about a couple of students entering my class this year, I received answers within two hours from my department chair and the supporting student advisors. I wish you well!

  4. It seems like the principal may also have misrepresented your intentions. It seems to me like you were already working in general to help teachers improve their instruction. Seems like the purpose of this year is to experience what life in the classroom is like at the secondary level. I’m afraid you will have some serious bridges to build given the intimidation factor of a professor, but I also know that if anyone can YOU CAN! One amazing quality you have is that you ask great questions. I think asking the veteran teachers for help/perspective/ideas in the next day or two will go a long way toward letting them know that you respect their experience. Plus they can help orient you! Once you build a few bridges, I think the word will get out that you are a great colleague. Cause you are.

  5. Don’t worry about the sub. They will be happy to be paid and have help in the room. Unless the sub has a strong math background, you will also be a great resource for them. Also, I know several teachers who go by Dr. So-n-So. Just let the other teachers know that you want to experience teaching from a new and different vantage point; to better understand their needs and concerns. I think this year will be an eye opener for you. During my student teaching, I found out that kids actually make it to high school without knowing how to add or subtract integers. There were several. You’ll be fantastic. You enthusiasm will shine through and the students and teachers will soon be won over. Good luck! ~J.C.

  6. That all sounds about typical for public school! Welcome to our world, Dr. So-and-so 🙂 They will be fine later on, it just sucks to have been put on the spot like that. Hope they get the paperwork junk sorted out soon!

    I apparently have a lot of my coworker’s students, so even though my classes look pretty good and level, he only have 14 and 15 – so I won’t know who my students really are for a while, either 🙂 They have 20 days in our district, and it takes them taht long to figure it out sometimes!

    Good luck and enjoy 🙂 The good far outweighs the bad on any given day!

  7. If it makes you feel any better. I have been at my school for 14 years and have students tomorrow. I still don’t know my exact schedule. Right now 5 preps. We have such an increase in students that we are hiring new staff and one assignment will effect the next and since I am department chair I always get hit with the changes. (to nice and to many people who can only do one prep)

    Take care – you will learn so much about US education.

  8. You will definately have to make your rounds and meet as many of the math/science faculty as soon as possible. Find where they eat lunch. If it is anything like the three schools I have taught at they kind of stick together. Meet them before school and after. Once they meet you and talk to you they will know that you are not some hoity-toity. Good-luck and I’m so glad you are blogging I want to hear everything.
    Love you!

  9. Congratulations on your new adventure! I would have loved being in your class in high school.

    I recall similar chaos at the beginning of the year in high school. Despite everyone having registered for classes the previous spring, class schedules always had to be changed to accommodate new complications and people were constantly being shuffled around for the first couple weeks.

    Good luck and I look forward to hearing how it goes, Mr. Yong!

  10. You’re trying to make me feel guilty for carousing around Thailand, aren’t you? Looking forward to tomorrow’s report, will be thinking about you. Thanks for blogging on this.

  11. Love the RED pen in the corner…it is red right? Makes me think of you twirling it as you grade papers…yeah you know which first teaching job I’m talking about.

    Can’t believe the Principal didn’t have a little more foresight and outed you.

    The sub thing is hilarious and (I think) an example of why organizations with lots of bureaucracy is in poor shape.

    Have FUN at RCHS!

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