This week I traveled down to Wellington to see the school I will be working for next year and try and find a place to live. Despite living in Wellington for a couple of years as a child this was very much a trip into the unknown.
I had never set foot in the school let alone met any of the teachers or leadership in person. While I’m sure they were just as curious who this Beginning Teacher from the skype interview actually is.
When I think about it now I realize that accepting this job offer is a gamble on both sides. I’m a relatively untested teacher, completing my studies online with a blog, that’s a bit
freaky different. Despite a lot of talk about how fandabulous e-learning is, I know that online students are sometimes perceived as being of lesser quality than our campus-based cousins.
For my part I didn’t know that much about the area and didn’t know anyone at the school, I just knew people who knew people from the school. There’s only so much you can gain from online interactions before you need to take the plunge and meet people in real life.
I had a rather inauspicious start when I realized that flat whites and umbrellas aren’t sold close to the local train station. Also being November I hadn’t thought to bring much in the way of warm clothing since Auckland is lovely at this time of year. So of course on the morning of my first day it was cold, wet and miserable. As I was trudging to school in the rain, I suddenly had a thought, what if the classrooms were grotty, the kids were horrible and the staff were nasty? This anxiety went up a few notches after I spent my first hour in the school at professional development session with some very robust debate led by outsiders. At first I thought ‘ZOMG what have I got myself into?’ thinking all my fears had been confirmed. As it turned out I have a lovely classroom, the kids are ace and the staff were so friendly and welcoming.
Likewise flat-hunting started off bad (damp, cold and next to cemetery) got worse (living with a pitbull) expensive and finally worked out after a blogging contact from a few a years ago facebooked she was looking for a flatmate in my location, time frame and most importantly price range. Yes I pretty much live my life through a browser.
Aside from appalling weather, I’m finding Wellington a very small city. Within a few hours I bumped into one of my friends who was stunned to see me meandering around town and from then on I was bumping into people on streets and public transport. The highlight was undoubtedly meeting @dragonsinger57 on the train home from school. I was about to get of the train when I thought ‘this person looks familiar’ then the iphone came out and I realized ‘hey I follow you on twitter.’ I then had the awkward few seconds of umm hey I’m @traintheteacher before Jo greeted me like an old friend.
This week left me feeling excited, invigorated but also feeling the weight of some big expectations. I know have lots of learning to make good on them but also to be aware of the pit doom that I will inevitably fall into during the first terms as I get my head around this teaching business. If I don’t at some stage have at least one meltdown into misery I will be worried. Learning is fun and exciting but also confusing and hard work at times. However I’m optimistic that the ace staff inside the school and the network of teachers I’ve been building on twitter means help is never more than a tweet away.
Despite having an awesome week I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Surely something is going to go wrong? At the moment I keep having nightmares of failing my exams and waking up in a cold sweat thinking I’ll have to go back to varsity next year. The rational part of my brain knows that I’ve done well enough in my coursework to carry me through my the dreaded exams. I could have asked for a reader/writer but I was determined to struggle through what I hope will be last set exams ever. However this doesn’t mean I’m finished learning..