Today I visited a charter school in Brooklyn, and I can't wait to work there. Or really anywhere other than a New York City public school.
As I told one of their people, everything that I saw was an antidote of the last three and a half years. All the things I want in a school, all the things I need to be the best teacher I can, it's all there in this place!
The first part of the visit that really clicked with me was that two of the teachers I looked in on were playing music in their classrooms! I thought to myself, "Hurrah! I have found my people!" The teachers were all young and calm yet stern. The students were not perfect, but had no trouble redirecting themselves quietly. Conditions were not shiny and new, but positive and spacious.
The principal talked to us about the school's philosophies and schedules and such. Though the school day is much longer, the teaching load is pretty much the same. Teachers use the rest of their days to plan and collaborate with their colleagues. They all work together to critique and improve lessons, and even work on discipline. They strive to build a sense of teamwork among the students as well as among the staff. Everyone's in it together, and everyone wants to grow and improve.
This is what's been missing, this is what I've been craving. To feel like a professional, to feel like I'm part of a real team of other intelligent and motivated professionals.
My school is not a safe place to be, it's not a fun or creative place to be. It's divisive and difficult, and I feel like I don't know who to trust, I certainly don't have any senior teachers to look up to and learn from.
In August, I submitted my resume to this school. (And I must say, whatever my esteem issues, when it's all written down, I am pretty dang awesome.) Now that I've seen the school in person and it's what I expected (ie, very good), I can't wait to work there. If it doesn't work out, I'll look into other charter schools, including places out of state.
Wherever I go, next year I will not be working in my dreadful, dusty, distrustful New York City public school.