Category Archives: meeting

My First Classroom!

Monday was our first official work day at the school!

First, we had breakfast together as a staff in the library and got started on the meeting concerning our staff handbook. It’s mighty long… We then took a break for lunch; at which point we were officially given keys to our classrooms!!! We were able to see our classrooms, eat lunch, and then meet back together to have our benefits, medical, and insurance meeting. Ok… and now on to fun interesting part… the classrooms!!!

Keep in mind, that before I got the keys, I never even saw the building that I was assigned to. It’s an older part of the campus, which is separate from the rest of the school (and a LONG walk to the office/library/cafeteria). I had looked in the windows of some of the classrooms in the main building and the rooms looked pretty nice and relatively large. This is not generally so in my building.

Now, before I go on any farther, I have to say this: I am EXTREMELY lucky with the kindergarten classroom I was assigned! My classroom (although an odd long and narrow rectangle) is almost double the space as the other language arts kindergarten classroom. Let me show you…

That is the ENTIRE classroom as seen from the door… AND is smells a bit like moldy wood from the old cubbies… No room for carpet time…

Anyway….. in comparison, if you are looking at it from the doorway, my classroom is a bit shorter from east to west, but double the length from north to south… I have a TON of wall space which I’m loving! I just don’t know where the bulletin boards or dry erase boards are going and if I have any say what-so-ever in that decision.  Oh… and I have two entrances to my classroom… one on each end of my classroom, one opening onto the playground and one next door to the teacher I’ll be sharing my kids with.  Without further ado, here are the pictures of my classroom BEFORE I do anything to it…

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^My classroom while standing in front of the teacher’s desk.

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^My classroom viewed from the other side.

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^My classroom viewed from an angle… The doors you see on the right go into 2 separate first grade classrooms. You can also see the note I left on that bulletin board asking to please not remove… I bet it can be of some use to either me or someone else in the building.

P8160284^This is my classroom’s only storage/shelf space as of right now. You can also see the sink to the left… Right now, the teacher’s desk is positioned in front of these…

As you can see, even though it’s small for a Kindergarten classroom, it’s MUCH larger than the other Kindergarten classrooms… The only downside is that I’ll have to share my room with the after-school care program. I’m a bit hesitant because I plan on spending a LOT of my own money and put a LOT of my own materials in my classroom. I can only hope that whatever group of kids and supervisor that uses my room is respectful. (Ok, I’m more than a bit hesitant; I’m downright nervous!!)

Anyway, I can’t wait to have the bulletin boards and dry erase board in my classroom so I can start decorating! So much to do and so little time! My room has to be ready THIS Saturday for the Teacher/Parent/Student Meet and Greet! Eek!

Today’s Silver Lining: I can relax a bit since I finally have the keys to my classroom. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I signed my contract! Oh… and it’s really nice that I have the largest Kindergarten classroom at my school. (I promise I won’t brag about it after this post though!)  =D

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Official Hiring Process

I wonder if every new teacher has to jump through this many hoops before setting foot in a classroom…

First, I aced the interview. Then, I signed the employment agreement.

At this point I thought I had the job. But apparently, there were lots left to do before I’m officially hired. I then got a call asking me to email them my references. A little backwards, but OK. It was then that I was getting just a little worried about “having the job”.

Yet then, I got the email about the staff/parent meeting and I was reassured. I also had to go downtown and get my fingerprints taken and complete a drug test. At the meeting, we got a red folder from the management team. Inside, it had three packets.

  • Employment Application
  • Basic Employment Policies
  • New Hire Booklet

So yes, I had to fill out an employment application after them already saying I “had the job”. At least there was also the new hire booklet or else I would have gotten a little scared again. It just seems like a lot of repeating information though. The new hire booklet wanted information for taxes and direct deposit.

At this point, I have no idea if the management team will want to interview me themselves before I’m officially hired. Since I’m not “official” yet, there’s still a bit of doubt in my head. Usually I don’t like to hold my breath for things and so this whole process is driving me a little crazy.

I wonder if regular public school teachers in my county have to jump through this many hoops and in this strange particular order before they are officially hired.

Today’s silver lining: I’ve been getting along with Miss G online talking about the management packet, teacher uniform, and curriculum. It looks like the year will be full of collaboration!  =D

Our School Is Like A Soup

Yesterday was quite a full day for me. In the morning, I had to go by the school to pick up papers I needed in order to re-do my fingerprinting and drug test. I then had to go downtown (a full 40-minute hectic drive away) to get it all done. In the past, it would take FOREVER!!! But this time, it wasn’t bad at all.

While I was at the fingerprinting office, I even ran into someone else who was getting hired at my school AND going to be a Kindergarten teacher as well! From now on, I will refer to her as Miss G. She was really nice and it was reassuring to hear her voice certain insecurities as well. It was also interesting to find out little differences between what they told her and what they told me. For example, they told me that they were splitting up Kindergarten into block scheduling like the rest of the school. One teacher would teach the language arts and social studies block and the other teacher would teach the math, science, and Spanish block. Since I told them that I do not speak Spanish, they told me that I would teach the language arts and social studies block for sure and that went wonderfully since I’ve been the kids specialist at a bookstore for over a year. What they told her, however, was just that she was going to be a Kindergarten teacher. Yep, they didn’t say anything regarding the block scheduling. (Oh and later on during the night meeting, they said that now the math and science teacher does not teach Spanish as well. So we’ll see.) She was also as anxious to see the classrooms as I was. This will be Miss G’s first time teaching her own classroom. She also has a daughter that will be attending the school in first grade.

After fingerprinting, I went to take the drug test. Luckily, I didn’t get lost and I didn’t have to wait long in the office because I really had to go to the bathroom! Hehe… I was in and out pretty fast. After that, I went to DSW to find some flats that I could wear to work. I got some deep red flats and slightly raised black Mary Janes. The black shoes were already 40% off and then I got 15% off the red ones because there were some glue spots on the front bow on the left shoe. Yay for discounts! (I think my next post will be about all the discounts offered to teachers at various stores!)

I then had a staff meeting at 6pm at a different church. I didn’t know exactly how to get there or where to go once I parked since there were not any signs. PLUS there was construction going on that completely closed the road for 15 minutes as well as change a major two lane road into one lane. Suffice it to say, I was late. You can’t imagine just how EMBARRASSED I was!!!! What would normally take me only 10 minutes or less, took me over 30 minutes to get there. Sigh… Yeah, great first impression when I walked into the room with all my future co-workers! I’ve made it a point in my head to be extra early to any future meetings.

We had a staff meeting from 6-7 pm and then a staff/parent/management meeting from 7-9 pm. I missed information about a red folder that we got at the beginning of the staff meeting. However, I already messaged Miss G to ask her about it. The rest of the staff meeting went over our uniform (yes, teachers will have to wear a uniform) and curriculum for the school. Since this is a new charter school, we are doing things a little bit differently and will have to be flexible since there really isn’t a school like ours yet in our district. The principal used a great simile. She said “Our school is like a soup. We’ve put lots of ingredients into the pot and it’s smelling really good right now. We just haven’t tasted it yet. But after we taste it, we can start fine tuning the recipe.” I love our principal! She’s so supportive, optimistic, energetic, and kind-hearted. She really cares about the students and teachers. As for the curriculum, she wants us to use the “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards” that Florida is thinking about adopting, which I don’t really see much difference to what is currently being used. She is also drawing techniques from neighboring school districts. I’m excited that we’re all going to be creating something new.

After the staff meeting had ended, we went to the large meeting area of the church to wait for the parent meeting. I happened to end up sitting next to one of the other Kindergarten teachers! Her name is Miss P and she just graduated from the same college that I went to. In fact, we soon found out that we had both completed our Kindergarten internship in the same elementary school with the same teacher! I love finding out how small the world is! She’s fun and super excited to start teaching and decorating her room as well! Like, me, she has also been frequenting dollar stores to find deals for her future classroom. Since she just graduated from college, she’s 3 years younger than me (almost exactly since her birthday is just a week after mine). I’ve already added her and Miss G on Facebook! Both Miss P and Miss G don’t know what block they’ve been assigned to teach yet. We also haven’t met the 4th Kindergarten teacher since she wasn’t at the meeting. At least I know that I’ll get along with 2 of the 3 other Kindergarten teachers I’ll be working with!

All of us teachers were thoroughly impressed when we saw just how many parents showed up for the meeting. There will definitely be parent involvement at our school, espeically considering each parent will be required to complete 20 hours of volunteering at the school each year. The main speaker at the parent meeting was the head of the management company that is ultimately responsible for the school. Charter schools are run by management companies and I’m not too sure on the extent of that. Anyway, they explained how the school would function, introduced the principal, explained the role the arts would play in the classroom, talked about the uniforms, described what enhancements they were doing to the campus, went over what types of technology would be utilized (like the addition of a few Smart Boards!! I haven’t even seen a Smart Board in person!!), and touched upon how confident he was that the upcoming school year will be overwhelmingly successful. Here’s hoping for the best!

Today’s silver lining: Even though I was late to the meeting, at least I had replied to the email telling teachers about the meeting. Apparently, I was the only one to reply out of all of the teachers. The principal, reading specialist, and the school’s office manager all seemed impressed with me for that fact.

A Little Reassurance

As soon as I woke up this morning, I went to check my e-mail and guess what? There is an e-mail from the school informing the staff of the Thursday meeting from 6 pm to 9 pm.

Whew! They haven’t changed their minds of hiring me!

Although, the meeting will not be held at the school. So I still won’t be able to see the classrooms, but I figure that I can at least ask about the facilities  and decorations. Hopefully I’ll be able to pre-plan classroom ideas in my head from their responses.

There was also one line in the e-mail that got me thinking in a new direction: “We have been given an amazing opportunity to create a new learning model. I believe that all of you are up to the challenge.” I wonder if the principal was just referring to the fact that our school will have a bilingual theme or to the fact that we will be a charter school. If it’s regarding the bilingual theme, I’m a little scared since I can’t speak Spanish conversationally. I only know basic written Spanish. If it’s regarding the latter, I’m wondering just how different will the charter school aspect be? Either way, I’m sure this whole year will be an adventure I’ll never forget!

Today’s silver lining: The school hasn’t forgotten about me! My nerves tremendously calmed down when I saw the e-mail this morning. =D