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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Of Cautious Optimism and Lurking Dread

Our star contributor, Life in Limbo, sent in this post the night before she reported to work at her new job on Tuesday, September 6.  Stay tuned to find out how things went for her. 

Well, it seems that my stint in the ATR pool has ended. Maybe I have paid off some penance, maybe karma has come and gone, but whatever it was, it has happened. 

I have a classroom. I have a position. My name will be on a school’s table of organization for the first time in two years, and for that I am thankful. 

This is not the dream position I had hoped for when I began, and it isn’t the Literacy AIS position I was excessed from and truly enjoyed. It is a position in a school that is not of the highest reputation, and not in the best of neighborhoods. However, I have Googled and searched and found no indication that the principal is from Hell, and the school itself seems to have garnered almost no notoriety in the press. 

For the first time in ten years, I will have a full class. As the class is an ICT (Integrated Co-Teaching), there will be a co-teacher in the room whom I will meet tomorrow. I feel like I am about to take part in some kind of arranged marriage where the bride does not see the groom until they are at the altar. I pray we can make it work, and even enjoy working together. 

This position allows me to remain in my current license area and therefore keep my tenure, which is a huge boon in this “get the bad teacher” and “deny tenure” climate. I am optimistic despite the knots in my stomach as I write this the night before we go back to work. After two years in the ATR, it feels odd to have to buy a grade book, and backing paper/trim for bulletin boards, but not necessarily bad. For the first time in two years, I feel slightly hopeful that there may be life beyond the ATR, and I am grateful to the principal who is appointing me. I feel like I have been pulled out of a maelstrom. 

However, I feel a sense of dread in this. I think this is going to be an extremely difficult year for teachers. I believe that Mayor Bloombuck$ will work tirelessly to eliminate seniority rights, and by extension, the ATR teachers. I think the data reports have only begun to be used against teachers, and I lack faith in my union to keep these developments at bay. Large class sizes and lack of resources will add to the stress. At the end of this year, I can easily become an ATR again as I am now the lowest in seniority. A two year teacher will have seniority over me in this building. 

I am sure there will be plenty of ATRs passing through my new school. I promise to find them, speak to them, and tell their stories here. And I will, of course, relate the experience of readjusting to life in a real classroom after doing time in the ATR.  As NYCATR has said, “Once an ATR teacher, always an ATR teacher. 

I wish everyone a peaceful (“rigorous,” “value-added” and “differentiated”?) school year. May your students progress and your school make AYP. 

As for me, I’d appreciate it if you all could pray that I can find my stapler. I am going to need it.

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