Preparing for School

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The whirlwind continues unabated.As you know, I accepted my teaching position a week ago Friday then headed out to Shore Leave.In the past week, I have been steeped in academia. First, last Tuesday, I headed back up to Towson where I was fingerprinted, injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected. Or had my prints digitally recorded and filled out a ton of paperwork including a criminal background check.On Tuesday, I returned to Owings Mills where I met my department chair and my fellow 9th grade teacher.Friday, I returned to Towson for the contract signing which was 20 minutes of reviewing paperwork and then affixing my name a few times. I am signed for three years although either side can terminate after each year. I also was assigned a time for my benefits review meeting, three hours of mind-=numbing essential information about the business of being a Baltimore County employee.Since then, I have been reviewing the terabytes of data I was given. I’ve been dividing my time between the two grades, reviewing the textbooks, handouts, related PowerPoint presentations, etc. I’ve been communicating with my 9th grade peer, trying to figure out how best to attack week one and segue right into the coursework. A lot of this is already dictated by the textbook so I’m looking at assignments and trying to find ways to insert some of “me” into them.The 11th graders should have read Octavia Butler’s Kindred over the summer so I read that last week so I know what they’re reflecting about. It’s an exceptionally good novel so was pleased we’re starting off with something contemporary and important before we go back to colonial times and look at Native American lit and good old fashioned Hellfire and Brimstone sermons.I’ve also been gathering things for my classroom, reaching out to contacts for donations to help personalize the space and I’ve been gratified by the response.Then there’s the Social Studies Praxis II exam, coming in September. Most days I sit with the review material and try to chug through it so I can take some practice tests and feel ready for this.It’s time consuming and busy and fascinating. I’m also feeling nervous about unanswered questions (how many hours of professional development is required?), how best to quickly learn roughly 100 student names, and project confidence. Some of this will be addressed starting tomorrow. I have three days of New Teacher Orientation which should help. After all, this will remind me that I am not alone, as I sit with hundreds of other newcomers. On the other hand, I suspect I’ll be among the oldest in the mix.There’s plenty more to review, but slowly, I am getting a handle on things.

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