Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What would I do?

So, I had it all figured out, where I wanted to teach next year (Alhambra district), what I was going to do if I didn't get a job there (go to a different school in Cartwright), etc. Why I think I'll be able to get a job anywhere outside the district in an economy like this, I don't know, but hey, I'm a glass half-full kind of person. Then, someone had to thrown in a third idea that threw me all off. The best laid plans, right?

At church, someone tells me that the school her daughter goes to a school for the arts (part of the name), and that they are expanding their 6th grade to add 2 classes and adding 4 fifth grade classes next year. First of all, the major plus is that they are hiring. Who's doing that nowadays? No one. (The amount of teachers being laid off per district around here is in the hundreds, some as many as 700!!!) So, that's already a good thing. Not only that, but this is a free, art-focused school. So, I decided to take a little look-see. The school is incredible. The kids do all their core classes in a long morning session, then in the afternoon all middle school kids are required to take piano and an instrument or dance. The application says they are looking for constructivist, project-based teachers, which is exactly what I'm all about. For those of you that don't know, that means a person who does NOT give 15 tests a week as I'm required to do (not quite that many, but close), but does fun things that actually require kids to learn about things they choose to do and are interested in. Not only that, but it's right downtown and I could ride the light rail to work!! So basically, the more and more I look at this school, the more I realize that if I could hand-pick a teaching job, this is it.

So what's the catch, you ask? You may recall that the school I teach at is low-income, high free/reduced lunch, etc. This is not by accident. I enjoy working with this population, and for all practical purposes feel called to work with them, since no one else is beating down the doors to do it. Schools in upper-class districts will never hurt for good teachers. I like to go where I'm needed :-) This other "dream job" school that I'm looking at though, while still free, does have a lottery waiting list, and tends to serve kids from a bunch of the middle-upper class areas nearby. (And plus, parents that aren't working 2 night jobs and have 5 other kids at home, plus 2 grandkids at home are more likely to be involved in this sort of endeavor.) These are probably also parents who are more likely to be watching their child's teacher very closely, which I have had the luxury of not dealing with yet in my teaching career. 

So, this is a bit of a moral dilemma (though totally premature, since I haven't even gotten applications to both places yet). The school sounds awesome, but the population might be...a big challenge, and I'd be far less needed. But, it would have a lot of fantastic peripheral benefits, I'm more likely to get a job there, and there would be lots of kids involved in music. The first district I am looking at though, has a far greater emphasis on technology and entails working with a population I'm familiar with, and has a much better track record with the given population. So, I don't know. What will most likely happen is I won't get a job anywhere and I'll hopefully at least be in another school in my current district. We'll just see. At least I know that if worst comes to worst and I have to stay at the school I'm at, I'm still slotted to teach 6th grade, which is better than over half the other current 6th grade teachers can say. 

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