On Starting Anew

If my math is right, this post will be going live on the last day of work before my summer break begins (I’m celebrating by taking a small vacation with some good friends).  It’s something of a special occasion, because this day also marks the end of my last contract with my current school.  For the first time in four years, I won’t be signing a renewal.

Instead, I’ve accepted a new job as a special education co-teacher at a high school that’s not too far from home.  I don’t know a whole lot of the details just yet, but I do know that I’ll be working in language arts, which is the area I’ve wanted to be in for a couple of years ever since personnel demands required that I give up my ELA spot and fill in as a high school math teacher.  This new job’s set in a regular education classroom, so I’m anticipating the student population is going to be very different from what I’ve grown accustomed to.  It’s all really exciting.

While I’m sitting and writing this post, I’ve known about my new job for about a week, and the excitement’s counterbalanced by a fair bit of sadness.  I’ve been working at my current school in some capacity continuously for five years, and I’ve been teaching for four.  Because of the nature of our population and the way we structure our setting, I’ve had a handful of students for their entire high school careers (several of them are graduating this year, and I couldn’t be more proud of them); a couple have been in my homeroom for the last three.  It’s so incredibly easy to grow attached when you have such continuity on your roster year in and year out.  Every day I’ve gone into work since I got the news I’ve been wondering exactly how I’m going to break it to my students.  There’s usually at least one quiet moment every day where I feel a little verklempt because I realize that I’m not going to be coming back next year as my students’ teacher.

On top of spending a whole lot of mental energy thinking about saying goodbye to my current students, I’ve also spent a bit of time reflecting on stuff that’s happened while I’ve been at this job.  When you work with such a small team under such stressful circumstances, you develop some pretty strong bonds with your coworkers.  I’ve always said that my coworkers are some of the best people to work with, and I’m going to miss them a lot too.  We’ve had a lot of fun together, and also been through a lot of difficult times too (in the five years I’ve been at my job, we’ve weathered the deaths of two students, one coworker, and a number of students’ family).  It’s going to be strange going to work in a new place next year without all the familiar faces.

The bright side of all this is that I get to move on to something new and exciting, and I’m doing it with a lot of knowledge and experience I didn’t have five years ago.  I remember being really wary of getting into special education when I was doing my teacher training, but after working with a population that everyone I’ve spoken with agrees is one of the most challenging ones that you can have in special ed, I feel a lot less scared by the whole thing.  Obviously no two students are precisely the same, but if I’ve seen the extreme of behaviors already, then I feel good about shifting to a co-taught classroom.

It’s looking to be a very exciting year.

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