Sunday, May 20, 2012

Private School--WHAT?

This weekend has been busy with graduations galore, but I have a sense of calm as I head into this week. Last week was the hardest I've had in a long while, what with a student throwing a chair across the floor and another student threatening to cut her fingers because she didn't want me to call her grandpa when she was being defiant...oh, dear. It felt like complete and utter chaos. (This was Tuesday). I got a little break the rest of the week when quite a few kids were absent (I know that sounds awful, but it made things feel more manageable) and we were able to end the week on a good note. 17 more days!
AC told me she doesn't want summer because then school won't be here anymore. My heart grew when she told me this (though she may be the only one who feels this way in my room at this point..;) Amidst lots of disorder at times, some students are still having fun and enjoying learning and maturing SO MUCH. Their ability to perspective take is really growing and I'm very proud of the progress they've made. I've been a bit lazy in pulling small groups and I feel that is going to be detrimental to my students who are ALMOST to their reading goal (I!), but overall I feel happy with what we were able to accomplish together this year.
I went to a job interview at a private summer school, and the interviewer (who was quite wonderful and complimentary, actually) told me at her school it's pretty certain that the Kindergarten class would function much like my first grade class in an urban area. This may be true, but it was assumed that the students in my community aren't academically doing the same things as at the private school. (The school is in a more suburban area.) Having taught in impoverished communities herself, I knew she understood to an extent the realities of teaching all ELLs, etc...however, I felt myself bristling a bit. I didn't show it and smiled, but the more I think about it, the more I wish she would have taken into consideration the rigor of what we do at my school and been more open to the idea that it's possible for ALL children to succeed at high levels. I'm probably overreacting, and I DO feel there are some differences when it comes to teaching ELLS--there is more of a vocabulary piece and sometimes even explicit English instruction, but I do know that my students are capable of the same brilliance that kids in the suburbs achieve. They might not have all the same resources, or stable home lives, but there sure is lots of love going on at their homes (for the most part), and they are achieving greatness at school. I'm a new teacher, so I'm still working at this, but I am confident that in the next few years I will have ALL my students reading at Level I by the end of the year--except perhaps those with IEPs or special plans, but I have confidence that I am the one who needs to rise to the challenge--the students are already doing it. Half of my class is reading at Level I or beyond at this point--and many are very, very close. My lowest readers are reading at Level E (Which is mid/beginning of year for first grade at my school), but every single student has grown and every single student is reading to some capacity. With guided reading, guided math, GLAD strategies, FOSS, Lucy Calkins Writer's Workshop, and explicit phonics instruction, I believe our first graders are getting a variety of rich experiences and do incredibly well for ANY circumstances, and are doing amazingly for the circumstances they endure.
I'm still very interested to see what it will be like at a private school if I get this job. I never thought I'd be teaching at a private school--we'll see what happens. I grew up going to public school, never have experienced what a private school might be like--this should be interesting. ALL children deserve a wonderful education, but I have this tugging feeling that children who have the resources to go to private school are going to be successful no matter their teachers--that may be totally false, good teachers affect ALL students, but I just feel a dedication to serving and staying in a community that NEEDS people who WANT to be teachers and are willing to work on themselves and their own biases to deconstruct stereotypes, racism, classism, and be surrounded by students who most likely did not grow up in the same circumstances as them, all while being serious about staying in the community and giving students what so many kids in suburban areas experience--consistency! That was a horrid run-on sentence, and there I go stepping on my soapbox again--but that just scratches the surface of how I feel about teaching, and why I am where I am. BIG PROPS to all the teachers who teach in more affluent environments--there are challenges EVERYWHERE and you do work to serve children, which is admirable and wonderful. My personal preference is teaching where many do not want to teach--and here I am, applying for a summer job at a private school. I feel like my family is smirking and thinking "I told you so!" I already told the interviewer I would only be interested JUST for the summer---my heart is with all those cuties in East Oaktown who speak in a beautiful mix of Spanish and English and compare shades of brown skin and have seen things they shouldn't in their short six years.
In other news, there is laundry sitting all over my floor, the new flowers sitting on the kitchen table are dead because I forgot to water them, and there are empty beer bottles decorating David's and my apartment. The last thing I want to do is clean. I look at all these uber-organized teaching blogs and I laugh at myself---I am the world's largest slob.
Good night!


  1. sorry about the slob, part but we do have our priorities
    remember Albert Einstein was a slob like us

    great blog

    1. Thanks, Dad! And you are right..he was. In some ways I'm grateful. It helps that messes don't stress me out in first are always so afraid I'm gonna blow up..but I just tell them to clean it up, no big deal. Messes aren't a big deal to us. ;)

  2. Hi! I am just discovering your blog and was curious when I saw the subject of this post. I teach first grade in a private Christian school but grew up in public school and NEVER thought I'd be in a private school setting. You are partially right about the fact that some of these kids would be successful anywhere. But you also hit the nail on the head when you said there are problems everywhere. There are those whose parents need parenting classes! We also have to contend with the fact that these parents are paying for their child's education and expect miracles in some cases...
    I do not think the principal (Headmaster?) at that school was being unkind, but he was assuming some things that were not true. We have a lot of assumptions made about private schools. I love my school and wouldn't go back to public even though I make less (**cough - half**) what I would be making in public.

    Reading your stories, I don't think could be as successful in the school where you teach. You have a gift!! Thanks for sharing your stories!

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts! I am always so interested to hear what others' experiences are in different school settings. Making half the money is CRAZY! I think people often assume teachers at private schools make more than those in the public system, and it's just not true. I admire you for sticking with teaching when your means are very slim!!
      I think it's so interesting what you said about parents expecting miracles.. ALL schools need an incredible amount of resources to serve the varied academic and social needs of all students. I never thought of private schools lacking in that area, but they most certainly could, especially in awareness of special needs of students and the process for diagnosing/etc. I imagine that must be difficult to address, just like in any school.
      I'm sure you would experience success in my school--you are obviously thoughtful and dedicated! :) Thanks again for the conversation!!