And if you wanna be the teacher’s pet, baby, you’d just better forget it

I have reached a turning point in my life this week. I have officially begun the long process of setting up my classroom. After being under construction (and in the dark) for most of the summer, my room has finally be opened to me and I spent the last two afternoons trying to figure stuff out. And let me tell you, there is a LOT of stuff to figure out. I am sure my predecessor was a nice lady, but, holy crap, did she leave me a lot of JUNK. In my classroom I found a half-full bottle of Mylanta, random pictures of students, a gallon milk jug full of soda tabs, chapstick, an entire drawer full of stickers, 6 containers of gold glitter, and about 1000 “Student Achievement” papers, not to mention the stack of books, papers, and random school supplies. I officially have enough staples, paper clips, and thumb tacks to last me for the rest of my teaching career, I think. Of course, these various odds and ends were not organized in any fashion, but rather stashed in the top drawer of the desk. Yeah . . . I am STILL cleaning it out.

We had a district new employee seminar today (complete with breakfast at Country Cupboard), in which we received a CRAP load of information about benefits, pay roll, and, of course, the teacher’s union. We had a lunch with our district union president (a teacher at one of our elementary schools) and our PSEA (Pennsylvania State Education Association – the larger “union,” if you will) representatives. They went over EVERYTHING; it was rather tedious. But I now have a better understanding of the “business” side of being a teacher, including the credits I need to start accumulating if I want to keep my certification. (For those who don’t know – in Pennsylvania, after you get your initial teaching certification, called Level or Instructional I, you have six years to get 24 additional credits in order to apply for your Level or Instructional II. If you don’t achieve these 24 credits, you lose your certification.)

Tomorrow we have a team building day at Camp Victory (human knot, anyone?), and I hope it only takes half the day so I have some more time to work on my classroom. Thursday is a “normal” inservice day, with faculty meetings and stuff. Friday I will probably also spend most of the day in my classroom finishing everything up. It’s been a little overwhelming, but the more time I spend at the school, the better I feel. Plus, I met two out of the three team members on my team (each grade level has two teams that teach the four core subjects), and they both seem pretty cool. I also met my mentor today (the other 7th grade English teacher) who is NOTHING like I had thought (but in a good way). I’ve also made some friends with new staff at the middle school, and a few of them are my age and fresh out of college, which is nice. I was worried for a little that I would be the only 22 year-old in a school of middle aged teachers.

Now I have to work on my classroom management strategy and make a poster for my classroom rules. Well, I’m not calling them “rules” – more of a contract, between me and the students. I’m going to read some parts of my Classroom Management book a little, just for some tips and ideas, and then get cracking! Wish me luck. I am going to need a lot of it these next few months.

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