I went to visit my new school on Wednesday. It was a very enlightening experience.
First, let's talk about the classroom. It's huge and beautiful! It's located in a brand new building which houses the sixth grade. There's only seven other teachers in there with me, and everyone seems really nice. It's like we have our own little club, completely separate from the rest of the school. The classroom is a "smart classroom," meaning that I have a sound system, a digital projector, a laptop and a Smart Board, which is a giant touch screen for making presentations. It's all top of the line stuff and clearly too good for me. I can't believe I lucked out like this. The teacher who is vacating the position is leaving most of her stuff in there for me. Decorations, lesson plans, tests, assignments - basically everything I could ever want is being provided for me. If I wanted to, I could completely coast by on the materials she left until the end of the year. Of course I won't do that, but it's nice to have some prepared things in case of emergencies.
I also got a chance to observe some of my students. I didn't introduce myself to anyone, I just sat in the back and watched a few lessons. Here's where I saw what my trouble is going to be. Their current teacher lets them run wild. She calls her teaching style "controlled chaos." From where I was sitting it looked more like regular chaos, but that's just my opinion. She goes out of her way to be a friend to the kids and wastes a lot of class time having non-academic conversations with them and repeating herself over and over (because they all won't stop talking). We have completely different views on what is appropriate in the classroom. That's perfectly okay - her way appears to be working for her and the kids absolutely love her - but I can't run my classroom like she does. Those kids are in for a rude awakening once I take over. I can already tell that my biggest problem is going to come from them fighting me on my rules and procedures. They will be going from an environment where the rules were very lax to an environment where the rules will be fairly strict. It's going to be a rough transition because they have so many bad habits.
So that discovery made me a little nervous, but I'm still ridiculously excited to start working. I have to go in there and be true to myself and my style as an educator.
I had to make the tough decision to drop out of my Villains swap this morning. I didn't want to, since I have been waiting for this swap for a long time, but I realized that I wouldn't have time to make a good package and learn to be a good teacher all at once. I'm bummed about it, but there will be other swaps.