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.