Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Night Before

Tomorrow is the first day of school. I can't believe it's here already. I guess I'm feeling exactly how I should be feeling--nervous, excited, eager to meet the kids, expecting that it will be nothing but chaos, ready to be exhausted by the end of the day. I've been up at Mission almost everyday for the past week and a half or so getting ready. I am absolutely in love with it; it's exactly what I was looking for.

The school itself is a beautiful in a lot of ways. It's a historic old building across from Delores Park in the Mission District. As you can see from the picture, there's a very impressive bell tower. Inside there are some lovely courtyards, complete with palm trees. In many ways it feels like the old Cass Tech building. Which means that it's definitely showing its age and the inside is not exactly brand new.

The staff at Mission is much more impressive than the building. The teachers are clearly dedicated, and all (at least that I've met so far) really seem to want to be there because they care about the students. I'm also impressed with the administration and the tone they set for the staff. For example, one of the school-wide goals is creating an anti-racist environment and education for the students. Last week one of the professional development days was a workshop on anti-racist teaching--something I think most schools would be hesitant to address so directly.

Then there's the math department, which I am so proud to be a part of. First of all, they're just fun people. They genuinely enjoy spending time with each other and sharing their teaching strategies, ideas, etc. They make time to observe each other's teaching and really work together to develop curricula that will be best for the students. It's really amazing to see them all work together, and even more amazing that they've welcomed me and the other STEPpies as if we're really part of the department.

Finally, I absolutely love my cooperating teacher (CT). She's everything I was looking for in a CT: she's really into trying new things based on what the students need, she explains her reasoning for everything but also asks my opinion, she has a teaching style (at least as far as I can tell right now) that's pretty much what I hope to model, and also she's just fun to hang out with. I can't wait to see her teaching in action. I've already learned so much in the past week; I think it's going to be a great year.

However... despite all the many things that Mission has to offer, the school is still struggling. Test scores are low, attendance is the worst in the district, enrollment is declining, etc. etc. I am trying not to pre-judge my students, but I also know that these kids are going to challenge me in ways I'm not prepared for. This is not Pioneer High School. But on the other hand, the fact that it's not Pi-Hi is part of what I like best.


Jen said...

I hope it's going well today. There's nothing like that first day! It will be interesting for you to find out why the kids in the school don't have higher scores, attendance records, etc., despite the strong staff and administration.

Linda said...

I have been thinking about you all day. As I write this you must be just about ready to leave SF and return to your "other" classes. I am glad that you are so pleased with your school placement. I hope the kids that you meet are half as excited as you are for the start of school. It will be fun to share experiences with all of the other student teachers this evening after their first day.

Just so you don't get too caught up in the beauty of your school, Beth points out that we have a courtyard with hornets nests which must be almost as good as palm trees in someone's mind.

Teana said...

i'm looking forward to hearing how your first day went. that school does look amazing and i'm glad you really like your department. it'll be a fun and interesting school year for sure.

Peter said...

Congrats, cousin! There's nothing quite like when a plan comes to fruition and is as sweet as you'd hoped. I hope your first day of teaching lived up to expectations. You're going to do great.

Liam said...

Hey, good luck. Hope your first day went well.