So, of course, I am frantically preparing for everything that is yet to come in my new school: new names, new policies, new personalities. Yet, for some reason, I am calm. Perhaps it is the fact that I've been in the situation of having a new school four times in the past five years; or perhaps it is because as I begin Richard Ingersoll's statistically significant Year 5 I can finally realize that I do have some skill at this and I am prepared for whatever comes my way.
Whatever the feeling is, I can tell you that this year will be a fascinating one for my newfound desires to understand the education system in a broader context and somehow try to influence it for the better.
The school I will be teaching in, the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies (BCS), truly embodies its name in its character. The entire first week of school is devoted to the formation and understanding of what BCS is and how students and staff interact in order to make the school a place to create and assist life-long learners. Instead of attending academic classes, each grade team has crafted a week's worth of activities for students to participate and transition back to school.
For students who have been around for a while - it is a chance to think about their vision for the year and what they want to accomplish. For the ninth grade team (of which I am a part) we are ensuring the newcomers learn policies, procedures, schedules, and more.
I don't know if NYC has anything called "leveling" like in Philadelphia - but the basic idea is that teachers/roster chairs don't know who is really going to attend their school until the kids show up. So, until the numbers get more concrete (which happens in October), teachers have to "teach" these enormous classes. In years past the difference in September to October has not been enormous (perhaps starting with 33 kids, and lowering to 31) so it is particularly worrisome that he beginning number here is 48.
I wish all my fellow teachers in NYC and Philadelphia good luck on the starting day tomorrow. We can do this!