This week was my first week on my new job. Other than being excited to meet my new teaching partners, I was not entirely sure what to expect. I was blown away this week by the opportunity before me. The new high school is set up and funded by the intermediate school district for the county. I don’t know if this structure exists in other states but in Michigan there is an intermediate school district for every county that provides support and special services for all of the school districts. For example our ISD provides a career tech center for high schoolers and has many consultants on practically any education topic imaginable.
I spent a lot of time this week meeting all of these people. They were great. Everyone was friendly, helpful, and truly enjoys their work. They were also excited about our new PBL high school. My principal described it best: it felt I was Harry Potter when he first arrived at Hogsworth. Everyone knows who you are and is excited to meet you because you are a teacher in the new school.
As my colleagues and I brainstormed ideas for our new school we constantly met experts who can help us on all of the logistics and training that we need. We met all of the superintendents and the head of IT. We were told how much money was invested into remodeling our space and that we are getting the latest technology in our wing of the building. Of course the most amazing thing to me is I am getting paid for the whole rest of the school year for professional development and to collaboratively develop curriculum with the other teachers. I have never felt more supported professionally in my life.
Guilt has been mentioned by some of my new colleagues. In Michigan, just like the rest of the country, thousands of teachers are being laid off and the governor wants to cut per pupil spending by over $700. There is a dark cloud over teachers and education right now. But I do not feel guilty at all. I feel I am a part of something important. We will be a lab school to show all of our districts the possibilities of PBL for all learners. I will not apologize for a school being started in the “right” way.
I feel valued, important, energized, and honored. All of the planning, time, money, and resources are not for me, but for students. I am working for the same wage as my previous job (and I am sure will be working much harder). I gave up my tenure to come to this position. I am not getting merit pay. I am working extra weeks in the summer (with extra pay) because I want to be a part of this. I am truly blessed. I know that every student who enters our school in the fall is going to feel the same way about the opportunity to come here.
Hey politicians, you want to “fix” schools? Treat teachers as professionals. Give them great teaching resources and collaborative professional development. Then get out of their way and let them do their jobs! We don’t need merit pay, we need the professional support and opportunities to dream incredible learning opportunities for students. And yeah it is going to cost some money to create these kind of schools, but our kids deserve nothing less.