Before Spring Break, I cleaned out my classroom and left.
This week was my first week as Professional Development Specialist. In my district, we don’t actually “specialize”, but rather support teachers across all contents. I’m hoping to specialize in Tech Integration, something that our district sorely needs (and I’m assuming that’s the reason I was hired).
Here are some observations:
1.) While I’m a “specialist”, I don’t actually give specialized trainings. After walking through five schools, all five mentioned a need for EdTech Integration; good news for me.
2.) Nobody working in education outside of the classroom is in a hurry. Everyone seems to stroll between events and walk between buildings at a leisurely pace. My orientation meeting with my new bosses lasted nearly three hours, and not once did anybody look at the clock and wonder when 2nd period was going to end.
3.) After said meeting, we went to the district office so my Director could introduce us. I immediately realized that I hadn’t had lunch yet. No bell had rung to instruct me that it was lunchtime, so I didn’t eat. As the clock rolled past 1:00 and marched toward 2:00, I was grumpy, faint, and didn’t enjoy parading through every cubicle in the damn building, but I managed to smile anyway.
4.) There are three of us just hired, one was brought in a few months ago to serve as interim coordinator (my immediate supervisor) but her first official day was Monday, with me and Chris. Chris and I are the only men in a building full of women, both youngest by… we’re the youngest by about 12 seasons of the Bachelor.
5.) I stayed “late” until 4:10. It’s likely that I’ll leave most days around 3:15 and have no lessons to plan, working out of my car at my school sites, asking teachers what they need to teach their best. That’s awesome.
6.) One of the line items on my orientation agenda was “Student contact is minimal”. That is not awesome, but I got to prep three elementary classes for the state test yesterday.
7.) Director said that our job descriptions for the next 10 weeks are “ambiguous”. That might be awesome.
8.) Everybody… everybody mentions how young I am. Eventually, my colleagues will note that I’m skilled in EdTech because I work hard, not because I was born after 1970. Perhaps my babyface will grease the wheels on getting me into an EdTech training role, so I’ll keep grinning and saying “Thank you”.
9.) The secretary in my department is Eve, a tiny lady in running shoes with a thick accent who is excited about everything. I love her immediately. Her cubicle is covered with paper fans from all the places she’s visited around the world, and she goes for walks during her lunch break.
10.) The storage area for all the specialists is un-interesting-ly called “The Brick Building”. There’s a big “8” spray-painted on the wall. My goal is to have everybody calling it “The Ocho” before summer. Also, it’s in total disarray and my “ambiguous” job description can hopefully include “making The Ocho into usable space and clearing out a decade’s worth of old textbooks”, which would be awesome.
11.) I’m the youngest, greenest, and tallest teacher in this building. While I may know a lot about some things nobody else does, I know very little about things that everybody else does. My attitude is one of seeking to understand new ideas and help others, not preach and inform everyone of stuff I learned on Twitter.
I’m the new kid on the block, and polite will win more friends than smart.
~Matt “What’s a Specialist?” Vaudrey