Sunday, October 07, 2007

I.S. OZ ... The Final Days

Perhaps I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was when I learned the news.

I was teaching my class when my AP came to my door. One of my students saw him peering in through the window and alerted me with, "Yo! Fat man at door!"

I stepped out into the hallway and my AP whispered in my ear.

"They're shutting us down. We're closing. Phase out. It seems pretty definite."

I was alone that day at the school. My CL was out, and as delegate, I knew that matters were falling quickly into my lap. Of course, the DOE came flying to the school for a briefing of the matter, and I managed to get my UFT DR to assemble a group of union individuals for the official announcement. What was particularly disturbing was that the DOE already had the names of the new schools that would be replacing IS OZ.

And so it goes.

The whole matter was upsetting. True, the school had lost control of the students for far too long. But my classes were beginning to thrive, and my students were excelling at an unprecedented pace. All of the crazy behaviors that many of my students exhibited were finally being quelled through long term interventions and supports. And I must admit that looping with these children was the single greatest gift I had ever been given by the school.

Thus, the lack of posting. Not much to post about. With the exception of one fight chronicled earlier on this blog, I didn't have a single fight break out in my classroom during the year. True, many classes dissolved into "class meetings" where students were made to work out their differences before they became violent. These class meeting took on a life of their own, with hot under the collar teens announcing at the start of class that a "meeting" was needed before someone got a serious beating. But given that this class had a high concentration of emotionally challenged children, I secretly felt that I had at least established a classroom culture premised on resolving problems appropriately and with the assistance of their peers.

I cried in the mens' room at their graduation. A father of one student pulled me aside and stated, "I didn't think she would ever be able to read. I thank you. And God thanks you." And that was it. Tears. Lots. But also a highlight in my teaching career. And an event to mark a new beginning elsewhere.

So this blog is taking a twist. A bit of journey into starting a brand new school. Taking on a new position with a raise, becoming chapter leader, and developing a new department of special education has had its share of challenges. And I've suffered some disheartening defeats along the way.

But all in all, I love my new students. And I am deeply committed to the mission of the school.

So welcome to I.S. Prep. And one particularly stressed out (and frequently pissed-off) teacher.


X said...

Shit, that is hardcore. But I am a selfish bitch, so all I can really think to say right now is that I was very excited to see this post. I take it that you are in one of the schools that replaced your old one? Are you a lead teacher? BTW, email me your email address so I can add you to my readers.

J said...

welcome back!! great to see you posting again and sounding so happy!