On Monday it hit me. Hit me hard like Dorothy in so many ways.
I had a feeling I am no longer in District 7. I have a feeling that I am no longer a teacher. I have a feeling that I am now nothing but an ATR.
That last sentence really was a reality check after what for me was a pretty good re-introduction into the Wonderful World of the NYCDOE.
On Monday I walked in several minutes early and was told to get my schedule from the AP. I walked to her office and she asked me to wait. I sat down at the conference table and what happened? The principal walked in along with the AP and my heart skipped a beat. It literally did. I have become so per-conditioned to whenever I am in an administrator's office that I must have done something wrong that I become some Pavlovian teacher when I see to admins talking. After about 2 seconds I realized the two were talking about some mundane school stuff. WHEW!
So I got the schedule and all it I had to do for the day was to "support" teachers in their classrooms. Nothing more, nothing less. It was at that point where my new reality hit me and I was nothing but an overpaid para.
But I couldn't wallow in it. I walked into each class that day with the attitude what can I do, how can I help, and dove in feet first. I was not going to be reactive, but proactive. The teachers were (or so they seemed) appreciative of my help as well as just being there. In each of the three classes I was with that day I sat with one of the more challenging students of each class and somehow, someway, made a difference for that student for about an hour. But I still wanted to teach.
I got my wish on Tuesday.
Like Ted Williams taking off for 4 years during WW II I came back swinging. Three classes in a row Tuesday morning, and it seemed like I hit a dinger in each one.
The students were engaged (I hate tooting my horn), the lessons were to the point, flowed well. I was rusty. I think I spent a wee bit too much time on the mini lesson and perhaps my introduction. But the students (4/5 bridge, 2nd Grade, and K) were well behaved. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the school atmosphere, maybe it was the District 11 magic, or who knows. But it felt good.
The next day, Wednesday, more of what I did Tuesday but a Kindergarten teacher that stayed in the room while I was teaching asked me if I was retired. I said no, not yet, told her I am an ATR and I asked her to as why she asked if I was retired.
She said that I knew what I was doing, the kids loved my lesson, the kids were focused, and my management was very good. She said she gets people in their with no lessons, no plan, no nothing and that sometimes she has to find something for them to do. It felt good.
Thursday and Friday was back to what I was doing Monday. It was neat hearing the kids calling out "Hey Zucker!" as I walked by, or the little ones saying good-bye as I left the classroom.
Each teacher, as well as the AP, was gracious and courteous to me and me to them. Hey, I know, this can be an anomaly, each school is different. But for one week, my first week back, I needed this school and was hoping to be there longer or at least up until the break.
Sadly, I am to report to another school tomorrow morning in District 10. In fact it is my step-mother's old school where she retired as an AP in 2001. Irony, huh?
I know I should be in 7, but I am closer to home. The parking at the school this past week was fantastic and it won't be as good this week, but it is a school I am familiar with. Worst part is not being able to go into my old haunts of Mount Vernon for breakfast or lunch.
I am going to do what I can and stand tall and stand proud. I will stand for all ATR's while I can and will actually make chicken salad out of a chicken s**t situation. No one can defeat you unless you allow them to. It is not futile on to resist, but we need to learn how to resist. Sometimes a smile can be our best weapon.
I know I am going to have some cruddy days, but it will not be because of me.