first day of orientation.

today, august 6, 2007, was the first day of teacher support (it was actually entitled teacher curriculum support day or something of the sort) provided by folsom cordova unified school district. it was held at the library of folsom middle school. i arrived at 7:45 am to a room full of...well, older white women. i took a seat at a table by a woman i had met at the health insurance meeting, and i sat across from one of the few men in the room. he was reading a book. i sat there for a few minutes, looking around, feeling uncomfortable the way i normally do, until my silence was too unbearable to continue. i hate moments like this. and it's an easy moment to play the race card. feel bad for me, the minority within the minority within the minority. i'm a male, i'm filipino, and best of all, i don't even have a fucking credential! who the hell do these people think they are, offering me a position in their school district?

so i started talking to this woman. same old blah blah: where'd you go to school, where'd you do your student teaching. same old responses: americorps? then the woman's friend, stephanie, arrived at the table. they get to talking and i'm stuck with the anti-social reader. we don't exchange a single word for the entire morning session.

finally, we split up into groups and i am placed in room 213 with two other women who are the only other new secondary ELA teachers. one of them, elise, soon discovers she's not in the right room and that she's actually supposed to be with the junior high group. so it's me and another youngish looking woman (i make the mistake of asking her if she had just completed student teaching last year and was given the response, "no. actually, this will be my fourth year") at the whim of our lead teacher, kelly h. when kelly h. discovers i'll be teaching grades 7-12 at mather youth academy, she seems genuinely concerned for my well-being. "oh my gosh, that's a lot of responsibility." and every time she told us how to use a section of the holt handbook, it always ended with, "but, for you, james, you're just going to have to go with whatever works."

it finally dawned on me. i'm going to be working with the worst kids in the entire district.

after a few more "lessons" on how to use the materials, she sent me upstairs to meet with the junior high group, since, you know, i am going to work with 7th and 8th as well. and so i went up to meet sarah, the ELA lead teacher for middle school, and she asked me what i'll be teaching. i told her. "wow, how's that going to work?" she asked. "i don't know," i said. this, at least, gave the group a little bit of laughter. the middle school session was pretty useless, since i arrived later, but at least i received a pacing schedule which informed me that chapter one would take at least 7 weeks to cover, and that my kids will be testing on the last week of august. that gives me a whole prep week, to, you know, design a curriculum for six grades for suspended and expelled students for an entire year. also, at one point, sarah politely added, "oh, so you'll be getting the kids janet and i kick out." i simply nodded.

i'm not quite sure what i've gotten myself into. aimee's words still ring in my head: "why is it that they always take the worst, lowest-level students and hand them over to people who have the least amount of experience?" at this point, i'm seriously considering teaching them straight out of teenager liberation handbook, convincing them to all drop out and get a "real education." but, then again, i guess i should see who i'm dealing with first.

at the end of the day, the anti-social reader, who turns out to have a master's degree, and has spent four years teaching in poland, asked me if i drove today. "yes," i said. "do you have jumper cables?" i know i didn't, but for some reason, i said, "maybe." i didn't have them. i hate privileged white men.

on the brighter side, i think that i will have something in common with my students: we've all made some bad choices. but instead of fighting and doing drugs--all the fun stuff--i joined americorps and took a job i'm not really qualified for.

i think i'm ready for them now.

1 comment:

ms.meggie said...

it sounds like you were surrounded by a bunch of ms. flatleys. "how's that gonna work?" you shoulda slapped that bitch on the spot. lo siento.