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Here They Come


Ready or not, here they come. They did come; the students, that is. All 2,086 ethnically, politically, economically, racially, religiously, ability diverse of them came. Arundel High School opened its doors after a two-day delay for construction. And I wasn’t ready! I admit it!

Were you ready? I’d love to hear what your first days were like. Hot? Exciting? Frantic? Enervating or energizing? Let me tell you about mine.

Arundel High is undergoing a two year construction project to (at long last) install air conditioning. All summer long crews tore open ceilings, moved boxes and furniture, and tried to do as much as possible without students and teachers present. Our school was closed for the summer to faculty. Teachers began to work in the classrooms only four days before students arrived. Some teachers didn’t even get that much time as we dealt with reassigned rooms, misplaced boxes and files, temporary trailers, broken furniture, etc.

The rooms were 90 degrees hot, the electrical system was spotty, and the humidity was so high not even hot glue guns would hold posters on the walls. But teachers, as always, coped. We put our up our hair, rolled up our sleeves, slipped on our flip-flops, and got to work. And amazingly, we opened. I believe the real thanks go to our custodial crew, who worked round the clock for several days to get done what was needed. Our school was clean; in fact, it was gleaming (even with one hall still closed for on-going construction).

The first day of classes, as we began the necessary procedural reviews with the students, the lights began to blink out, and on, brighter and dimmer. The class change bells were not working, the PA system was down. Finally, notes were passed to teachers. The electrical problems were sending us home early!

Since then we’ve kept as many lights off as possible, minimized computer use, and served cold lunches in the cafeteria. By limiting our electrical requirements, we’ve kept power, and stayed open all day. It hasn’t been easy – copiers don’t work, computers are not available, lights and fans are dim and slow. I am not complaining, though – we have water to drink, gas for our school buses, and homes to return to. Our staff still starts each day with smiles, the students are still learning the state-mandated lessons, and teachers come back every day. As our principle says (over and over), “Remember the key words – ‘flexibility’ and ‘patience.’” Sometimes Mrs. Stratton smiles when she says that, sometimes she doesn’t.

Well, I AM flexible, I AM patient. After all, I AM a teacher. I feel like I'm not ever ready enough, but still I get the job done. I think those two characteristics are requirements for all of us, don’t you? Flexibility and patience. Do you have them? Don’t you have to have them to be a successful teacher today?

The first school days at Arundel High School have been amazingly successful. Were yours?


Dear Hanne,
Ah, the joys of the first days of school! Thses are the times when we can all smile to ourselves when we hear parents say that teachers have such easy jobs; they get the summers off to relax.
I'm glad your school is coming together. At one of the schools at which I teach, we discovered that there was a glitch in the scheduling for the 6th graders and we couldn't get confirmed teacher copies of class rosters. The student copies were correct, they knew where to go but the teachers and administrators weren't sure if the kids really belonged!
We have finally settled down and after some shifting and moving, the kids are in the right classes and we can finally get to work.
I hope you have gotten some good news from your family down south and that the rest of the year goes well. I look forward to your next blog.

Hanne, it sounds like you and your staff are tough contenders who made a smooth transition to a great new year, after all the problems were confidently solved by your compatriots. Bravo!
Last year, I found out the Sunday before school began that I would be teaching College Prep English. i enjoyed the year in an ancient leaking room, but the school dumped me for an agriculture/English program. This year I'm substitute teaching, which has its ups and downs. A Resource teacher who I used to teach with will get me some days, his health is failing and I also worked this year at a Charter school. Hope to chat with you again. Ellen K.

I am a career-changer,too. I am currently in my third year at Randolph-Macon Woman's College working towards a major in Curricular Studies with a minor in Environmental Studies. Your blog is an inspiration to me as I look over my homework and wonder if I'll EVER figure all of this out.

Needing to be flexible is the name of the game! I taught 13 years ago and worked on and off for 10 years to get back to teaching HS in a very competitive job market. After subbing last year I finally got 2 classes a day in a district I like. But the AM classes they promised turned out to be right after lunch, so I'm not making the extra sub money I needed. My room is designed to be a mini lecture hall, so it's difficult to build "learning communities" with them all facing forward (and the room is hideous colors). AND there is no mentoring here, so it is figure it out, sink or swim. Some days I feel like I'm getting it right. Other days I feel like I don't know what I'm doing. Glad I didn't get a full-time job!


I hope you will continue to update your post. I'm a career-changing woman, too.

One of my biggest concerns is whether or not I will have sufficient stamina to see me through the school day and into the night with my husband and teenage daughter.

Good luck!

Hi, Hanne. I'm a career-changer, too. This is my first year, however. To top it off, I'm teaching in an alternative high school, so I've got the most challenging students in the district. It's really difficult to motivate them, as they are so used to failure. I'm having to learn to be even more patient that I've always been, while gently pushing students to try harder. Good luck to all you new teachers out there. This is a tough but rewarding job.


I know how it is when schools are undergoing building reparations.I'm a freshboy for "integral education" which I am told that I will be able to teach a bit of math,English,Spanish,biology,etc to children from first grade to middle high school.
The reason I'm telling you this is because as I'm studying to be a teacher I'm spunging me with everything concern with it.Thanks for such a good site.
Carlos Vasquez

Congratulations on making it through your first year of teaching and sharing your experiences with others. I am thrilled that you have chosen a second career through the AACPS RTC program--you are such a wonderful addition to the hard-working and talented special education teachers in our county. I would like to share your blogs with the second RTC cohort as I'm sure your words will provide much encouragement and support. I look forward to reading more!

I'm 49 years old and also changed my career to teaching. I'm now a 3rd year teacher. I was bored at my previous job. I am never bored now either at school or at home. I am working 24 - 7- I just change locations. There aren't enough hours in the day. There is a lot of work involved in the first 5 years of teaching. You do hit the ground running. I am motivated and anxious to be the teacher I want to be with the realization that has meant putting my family on the back burner - so to speak. My youngest daughter is in high school. Although, I get to her cross-country meets and orchestra concerts - I'm never relaxed. On the exterior, I'm calm and collect but inside there's a tremendous feeling of - "Oh my gosh - I have so many papers to grade, lesson plans to complete, parents to call, and copies to be made!" It's tough. I really enjoy teaching. I'm glad I made the career change. I just wish I hadn't figured that out so late in life. One of the reasons I changed careers was to spend more time with my family. I am to complete my masters exam this summer. After that, I hope I can relax. I'm certainly not bored!

I can't believe it, my co-worker just bought a car for $77708. Isn't that crazy!

that is crazy! that's a lot of money for a car!

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