I’ve been trying to write this post since Memorial Day and it just hasn’t happened. It hasn’t happened for the same reason I haven’t really posted anything for a long time; because it’s been an emotionally-charged time for me.
Being at the school I’ve been at for the past three years, has taught me everything I know about education. And rightly so, as it was my first solo teaching job. It is a school with a beautiful history in our city and the students are amazing. (Amazing and frustrating, like all students everywhere.) Unfortunately, it has also been a school with a lot of regulation when it came to Algebra I. And who could blame them when the state government threatens to take over the school and fire everybody if certain scores aren’t met on standardized tests? By this point, we all know that the system is broken, right? (Right?) Anyway, so after three years, the regulation and emphasis on standardized testing had really led me to a bad place, and I applied to move to a different school. (If the problem is systemic, how did moving help? Stay tuned.)
I should have seen this coming, of course, after all the posts I put up here that talked about how poorly my situation was meshing with my personality. (here, here, and here) But I really didn’t want to admit that I needed to leave this place that I loved.
The same year I started at my old school, our district opened up a STEM magnet school on the campus of the community college (which is where I now work). It was created as a platform school, which basically means we are supposed to experiment and try new things and then take the things that work to other schools in the district. This pedagogical freedom (!), and the fact that the school had an on-paper remedy for basically everything I had struggled with at my old school, is what really excited me about this school. As a STEM Fellow through our Public Education Foundation last year, I had the opportunity to spend a few school days there as well, and really liked what I saw.
So far (Day 10) it’s just what I needed in a school. I do miss my old school and the students there, but I feel confident that I made a good mental health decision for myself.
One thing I really like that I’ll share now is that, as a magnet, they take students from every zone in the district and they do it by population (think House of Representatives), so the student population is really diverse (actually diverse, not the “diverse” that white people use to talk about a school that’s 95% black) and I still get to teach students from my neighborhood, which I love.
There are a lot of stories I could tell already, but I’m going to stop here so that something actually gets posted.