Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Semester, New School, New Challenges

I've just started the 2nd semester of my 2-semester teaching credential program at CSUSM. I'm optimistic that it will fly by smoothly. I think it will basically be a repeat of 1st semester (just without the fire, hopefully). I had a very nice, relaxing break. I slept in a lot, painted (watercolor all day), lounged in the backyard, and adopted a new shelter dog. I guess that's another perk to teaching--the breaks allow you to recharge. I guess that's how we justify the lower salaries.

I've started this semester with a new school,  new master teacher, new classes, new students, and a new university supervisor. I'd heard a lot of rumors about my new site--lots of gang violence. I tried to push the gossip and heresay out of my mind. I wanted to be unbiased, but of course, with all the news and rumors, that was impossible.

The first thing that struck me about the new site was the severity, sternness, and strictness of the new administration. Lots of rules. Lots of no's, and cannots. Security guards everywhere. I was intimidated and nervous. However, my new MT is very easy-going and laid-back. I got along with him instantly. He's been teaching for 27 years. I hope to be as relaxed as he is one day. He's a very good story-teller. I can definitely learn from him. Plus, I think he'll let me be pretty independent. The biggest downside is the scripted curriculum. There's not very much freedom within the lessons to try my own stuff--my favorite part.

That's okay. Mr. B. told me last semester to focus on classroom management and nothing else. I'll have to be very self-disciplined to accomplish this goal. My new MT doesn't do much discipline at all. Fortunately, my new classes, although very large (40+) seem to be comprised of very quiet, meek students. Maybe it won't be that bad.

I also love my Chemistry class. The teacher is fantastic and has been a wonderful mentor to me. He's letting me help the students with solving problems and has already let me lead the labs. The students in the class are enthusiastic about the material (it's an elective) and more mature (they're sophomores; my other classes are freshmen). I'm having fun.

The campus as a whole saddens me because of the gang violence and the hush-hush M.O. as far as discussing it as a school (or even a memorial service for slain students). The teachers seem burnt-out and unhappy. The students in my classes seem like they are good kids; they want to be there and are trying very hard. But I almost began crying the other night because it's not safe there. No one is safe. Kids get jumped on a daily basis; and random lockdowns are frequent. I'm making the most of it, and there are many positives for me, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to simply getting through this semester, earning my credential, and getting a job. Can we speed up the process?

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