First Week Back: Changes

This week has been so many things: nerve wracking, scary, hopeful, challenging, somber, tiring, physically demanding…. and yet, here we are at the end like all things the first week back does not last forever.

I knew Monday 10 minutes into work that there were going to be such huge changes this week. I decided after a new staff member introduced themselves at the first meeting and then said, “and it was nice meeting you all but I just got word that I’ve been transferred again,” that I had to capture my feelings each day.

(I had some issues with my website, so this post was finally able to be uploaded a week late! It’s no one’s fault per say, just a very odd glitch!)

There were so many changes on Monday. We had a new Assistant Principal, 7 “new” teachers (transfers), “new” YDS teacher, “new” ESL teachers, we lost a Gym teacher to the Science teachers (he was a science teacher first, then was PE teacher for a year, and now a Science teacher again), “new” Librarian, (our old Librarian was a classroom teacher that was learning to be a librarian and is back in the classroom) and some teachers have changed grade levels and subjects to boot!

On a personal level, I was informed that I would be a Music teacher solely. This is… it was disappointing to hear because I transferred to my current school because the Bands here/there were so large. The teacher needed help because 70 kids at once can be a lot. We were just starting to understand how to co-teach Band and really seeing the fruits of our labors. So it was a little bittersweet to know it’s done for now.

Financially, teaching music is a pay cut. This is frightening because of that Disney downpayment we made back in June. It became more frightening when Ryan called to tell me he was not longer a Band Director as well, cutting his salary down by a nice chunk as well. Again I am thinking of this huge trip that I have already sunk $1000 into and now I’m like “…. what will we do?” It was A LOT all at once.

But. As I sat there, processing as a person does when they receive such news, many things went through my mind:

One, I am a kick butt teacher. Hands down I know music. I may not be a savant or anything, but I can teach music to kids. So changing to teaching Music full time and not Band full time will not be bad for my students. They won’t get a subpar, blah education. (Though I need an upgrade on my Music materials, technology has changed a little in 4 years!)

Two, WE HAVE JOBS. I have NO IDEA if I will be able to say that by day 20. I don’t. People made some comments to me today about “showing them we need you,” and “we have to give them no reason not to question,” and “I’m trying to leave no doubt.” Which made me feel a little doubtful about my lasting 20 days even though they REALLY need me to teach Music or the other resource classes will be at 30 to 35 kids each for each resource teacher. So they need me so far and thank the Lord that I have a job!

Three, we can be more economical. Ry and I should really practice portion control when eating anyway… so this makes that and little things like watching our pennies a real thing. We HAVE to. I’m not losing the Disney money we put as a downpayment, I’m not going to worry about what CDubs may need for school, because we can do this and be better with our money. Because thank the Lord we both are still employed.

So, instead of crying like I would have done in the past, I sat there and problem solved…. because y’all I am an emotional crier. Very Happy? I cry. Very Sad? I cry. Very excited? I cry. I. CRY. So I’m kind of impressed with my brain/face/tear ducts because I handled this sudden change for us both really well. I didn’t jump to outlandish conclusions or anything.

While I was having this period of growth my co-teacher, a veteran teacher of 20 years decided to go up front and explain what making me a Music teacher really means for my salary. They didn’t know up in the front office. They are just trying to make things work and keep as many of us as possible and I completely respect that. I also really respect and adore my co-teacher for fighting so I could teach one Band class this year, thus making me a BAND TEACHER again. That’s right, I am still a Band teachers as long as I teach one class. They picked the smallest grade level where me teaching Band as well would not effect the numbers in the other rooms (Art, computers, and PE). If just my co-teacher had 50 kids in Band everyone else, including me, would teach 10 people per class. So we are shooting for 35 to 40 kids for this Band class. Thank you co-teacher for going to bat for me!

I called my husband with the news, (if this works out which it sounds like it will) then we are only out a chunk of one salary not two! I also remembered we have after school clubs via the 21st Century Grant and I get paid for that, and we don’t have to pay for daycare anymore (duh).

Okay, so I can do this and I STILL HAVE A JOB. (Do you detect a theme in my gratefulness?)

That said, I still had a lot to get ready but at least I’m in the same room! I decided to totally redo the layout now that I have more time to set up as well.

My co-teacher’s husband came by and helped us move all the large cumbersome stuff and my co-teacher got her room almost completely together! (I guess I’ll have to think of another name for her since we won’t truly be co-teaching all day like we used to)

I’ve still got a lot to do… but it will be worth it. The theme this year is bright colors and rainbow like.

So I felt like it was a very emotional day… then my husband called and it’s been decided that he WILL be a Band teacher after all too! At least they hope the schedule is set in such a way that he can. They got him some help so there will still be Music at his school and Band. Now I know for a fact many people pulled that together and I will be praying for them and are truly in a state of thankfulness for that miracle!

Whew! That’s just day one! I’m hoping the other days feel smaller… and less emotional!

Thank the Lord I am still employed! Thank you! God is so Good!

Tuesday was nothing compared to Monday. Monday felt like a whole week and Tuesday was like a long morning!

We had a meeting about our individual teacher websites and mine is pretty awesome. I’m proud of it and I only had to adjust the welcome image, the schedule changed (oh shoot I need to edit the footer on the page I forgot!), and hide the Spring Band Trip page (since it is not even Fall yet!). Then we could go to our rooms.

I moved a lot of large plastic containers full of books and decorations. I set out new things and old. I vetoed some fun items in lieu of some more practical things and locked up some instruments for Music. (They are just to fun and tempting to leave out!)

My teacher friend helped me hang a dry erase board in the back of the room. I am rubbish at anything using your depth perception. Stairs? Bah! Driving! Nope! Hanging or drawing anything straight? Yeah right. Also she is like the strongest woman I know, so she strong armed my cheap IKEA drill into that temporary wall (it’s solid and we have permission to do these things but it’s not original to the building and can be removed easier that a true wall) and made those screws do right! I am excited it’s now up!!

My teacher friend is all done with her room, and it looks great. My room looks like the plate of food a kid doesn’t really want to eat. You know how they move stuff around and it just looks like they are eating, but they aren’t? Well my room looks like it’s coming together but it’s not. There is still stuff everywhere. It’s crazy.

At least I have applied pink grapefruit wipes to all dusty surfaces, hung a impossibly large calendar, and found the highlighters!

I also found out at tonight’s board meeting that since July 30th forty five more people noped out of the county or retired. So that means 145 people left. So now just 45 more jobs are left to be cut. I am still praying just in case… extra prayer never hurt anybody as far as I know.

I have to ask myself, why do I move all my stuff? It’s so much work. Never mind the layout might actually be better this year, it’s a lot of moving things. My co-teacher K is done with her room. I’m still wondering if I should add more color.

I learned about some policies today that we need to implement and had a large brainstorming session with multiple teachers and so veteran teachers online. I appreciate their insights so much. It really takes a team to solve a puzzle sometimes.

Thursday was a lot like Wednesday in that I moved a lot of things around, melted some skin off my hands (high temp glue guns are no joke), swept, hung more decorations, covered up an obsolete heater with music paper making it look like a weirdly placed shelf, and just tried to make a beige classroom look like a colorful, energetic, fabulous classroom! I may have actually sought out other teachers on purpose and spoke with them. *shock*

Friday we had an Arts Department meeting at one of the large high schools. It was again, a lot of changes. Our department overall was tasked with cutting, individuals/positions. You could hear a pin drop when this was announced. However, 15 jobs were eliminated because a great deal of folks did not come back, another classroom, or retired. Five of those positions were open and simply closed for the time being. While it’s sad to know that people left, and worse there are schools missing an important element of the Arts or maybe a reduction in the Arts, people’s hands were tied here. It’s not like we had a choice and we are lucky we are valued as apart of the educational team. Thankfully PSRC is looking to educate the whole child, and sees the wonderful things we do.

We had an item exchange (I was so excited about this) and we were able to share things we may not use as often and get things we needed! I was blessed to get some new art supplies! I like to use visual art, in my limited way, to enhance what I teach in music/band. You can draw what the music sounds like to you, you can sketch what emotions the piece causes you to have, you can share your feelings and thoughts in artful ways! Writing is so important but sometimes our kids need another way to express themselves. (Especially 5th graders bridging that gap between elementary and middle school. Drawing and writing prepares them for writing more detailed works later!) so I was happy to walk away with 500 sheets of recycled newsprint paper!!

Then we spoke with our new teacher leader for middle and the leader for high school. We solidified dates, gave opinions for what clinicians should be hired for student learning events, opportunities for field trips came up and! My co-teacher and I will be the clinicians for the Middle School Honors Band group! How cool! We will pick out the songs they will be playing, teaching them for 8 hours and we will be conducting at the big concert at the RCC Auditorium. It may not seem like the most amazing thing to other people but this is stepping out into the spotlight for me. I love working with kids, but the stage still give me pre-concert jitters… not to mention my peers shall be all over the place watching me conduct, observing my teaching style, judging my every move… possibly… *shudders* It will be good for me, it will. It helps instead of one person, we will trade off and have two!

Co-teachers once again!

I would be lying if I said my thoughts were calm and assured. I hope that the county continues to see the value of my position and of course me as a teacher. I think I do very good things, dare I say, wonderful things with my students. My classroom is starting to really come together and I am really feeling more settled this year. I hope that feeling is an indication of how the school year will go for me! Any thoughts, prayers, well wishes, and good vibes are appreciated! Now I have to look forward to open house!!!

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