In the last month that I have been home in the U.S., I have had a fairly smooth transition. Fortunately, I was able to start working almost immediately. I was hired to teach first grade at a private school in my home town. I had a week of training and then spent the last several weeks going through the files and materials left in the classroom to see what I have to work with and what I might need to purchase. Having a lot of work to do has helped me stay busy and not dwell too much on missing Guadalajara.
Even though I have just met my coworkers and have not met my students, I can already tell this is going to be a very different experience. Going into my new classroom was definitely a shock to me. It is a nice size, with wonderful built-in cabinets, bookshelves, lockers, etc. I am already enjoying the space and looking forward to being able to walk around student desks without bumping into them all of the time. I am also very blessed by all the resources that were purchased by previous teachers with school money and I have a yearly allowance for materials for my classroom.
The contrast is so great it almost seems excessive. Lincoln kept a tight control on copies and resources. Many pre-made materials for classroom decoration, posters, etc. were not available at all unless someone brought them from the United States. On the one hand, it is exciting to have access to so much and I hope that I will be able to take advantage of these new resources. The environmentalist side of me is also a little sad because I can already see from what was left in my classroom that these resources are much easier to waste when there are barely limits.
There are some other major differences. The year I arrived at Lincoln, there was still no curriculum in place and it was every teacher for herself to decide how she was going to meet the standards. We had freedom to do almost anything, but I didn’t know what to do so I really struggled. The second year, it was nice to have the freedom, because I wrote the curriculum and found a method that really worked for me. At my new school, everything is regulated pretty tightly and I do not have the same freedom. I am glad they have clearly outlaid their expectations and provided training, but am a little nervous about meeting the high standard.
At Lincoln, people were always talking about leaving things ready for “the next teacher” because they assume a high turnover. At my new school, many of the teachers have been there for years (two of the four teachers on my hall have been here over ten) and they talk about “after you’ve been here a few years”. That is a big change in mindset as well.
So here we go. I will update about the first week of school pretty soon and put up some pictures of my classroom too!