Wednesday, June 10, 2015

When things get turned upside-down

We're in the heart of tornado season, but for me and people I work with, tornado season came early.

Everything around us has been pitching for a while. The clapboard walls were shuddering, shaking up something fierce. It wasn't until this past semester when the winds bore down on us. There have been watches for some time, but once January hit, and the school board OK'd the changes, warnings were in full effect.

About two years ago, the middle school principals in my district forged together and approached the, then, newly elected superintendent about the middle school schedule, which was slowly offing us left and right.

The superintendent came from a middle school background, understood the mystery beasts that young adolescents were, and work began to fix the current schedule which fracked good teaching from us and left us tired.

After a year of research, a vote from the school board, and a semester of planning and preparing, the middle schools are officially moving from a seven-period day, where we teach 54-minute periods, to a block schedule, where we'll spend 90-minute periods with our students and see them every-other day.

We also grouped teachers together on teams, eliminated study halls, upped the amount of elective choices, and starting in August, we'll be set loose with all this newness.

But, before we knew what all of this was going to look like, the unknowns were sentinels standing guard around the school, and the only thing we could do was speculate. Rivers of gossip helped keep the rumor mills turning, and some of those mills caught some fish of truth, but mostly, it was something to keep us busy.

It was thrilling. We were pioneers.

Change was on the move. For a few, it was insanity. I'm sure they all got stomach aches thinking about all the question marks that floated around their heads. I'm the only journalism teacher, so a lot of the changes weren't going to affect me, so I got to watch in awe as the tornado whipped through, careening over here, and then swiftly going over there.

I wasn't totally safe from the wind. Even my hair got messed up when I found out that I had so many students signed up for my classes, that a fellow teacher in the building was going to help teach the overflow.

It was such a weird sensation, really. We were mindfully preparing for this new school year where we met with kids every-other day, where five teachers shared a group of students on a team, where we would be able to do some amazing things with our time and our craft, and all while we were finishing out the current school year where we rode through a seven-period day.

I know change is sometimes this big, bad, wolf. I'm super-weird and welcome it. Some major shifting needed to happen, and now that it's all falling into place, it has reignited some fires, and it's definitely making the future more exciting. I see a step in some fellow teachers' walks that were not there before. Sure, there's much uncertainty, but the good news is -- we're all weathering this together.

There's energy when things are turned upside-down. I will see what kind of elements this energy charges once August hits, but luckily, since it's still June, I've still got some time to spend by the pool.