04 March 2007

On Shaky Ground

I had my quarterly meeting with the beginning teachers this week. We added three to our small huddled mass in January, bringing the grand total to 11 district-wide. I find that tiny number amazing in some ways. We are a moderately large district and have nowhere near the amount of beginners as other districts. Ones double our size have as between 90 and 110 new teachers. I'm already in the planning stages for next year---buying materials and valiantly trying to spend down the budget---and the consensus is that I should plan for no more than ten newbies...and even that should be a stretch.

The district is shrinking, hence the need for fewer teachers. All but two of my charges this year have specialized certificates; half of them are working with special needs students. This will likely be the trend in coming years. We will just be looking for "niche" people. If beginners these days fit the traditional model of being in their early 20's, just out of college and getting their first job, this might not be a big issue. Teachers that age are usually a bit more mobile: they can move where the jobs are. I only have two which fit that profile this year. The remainder are second career teachers. Moving around the state is less of an option when you have a spouse with a job in this area and kids involved with the local school system.

I had the Human Resources Director come and talk to my group last week. While they are no different than other cohorts of beginners we've had in the past in that they have non-continuing contracts, they are different in the sense that their job may not be there for them to reinterview about next year. Some of their roles may well be absorbed into the budget cuts. My SPED teachers like to joke that no one else would want their job---so they feel a level of safety. I wish I shared their lightheartedness. They are employable, no doubt, but as the district has some hard choices to make in coming years, no one at the bottom of the totem pole has any sort of assurance about their job.

I heard that a couple of my newbies hit the bar after our meeting. I admit the news that was delivered wasn't very rosy, but I thought it best for them to hear what the realities are and have as much time as possible to consider their options for next year. I wish they weren't on such shaky ground. I hope they land in districts where there is a bit of growth and need; where they have some time to get established on the food chain and secure their futures.

No comments: