I was married on July 26, 2008. My official hire date with the district, despite receiving an early contract in March and signing paperwork to work for a specific school in June, is actually July 28, 2008. This was the day that New Teacher Induction began for the district that year. It last an entire week. When I was originally signing papers in March, I was given this date. I asked "How required is this induction?" The woman leading the paper signing told me it was mandatory. I cancelled my honeymoon and put the induction on my calendar.
In years past, the induction was much shorter than what we went through. We had five straight 8 hour days. Here's the part that now annoys me. We received six hours of PD credit. The rest? The rest was stipend. We got paid to be there. There were literally hundreds of teachers in there who received a little over six hundred dollars from the district for this event. That's a LOT of money. And we had free food the entire week. And it was at a nice, downtown hotel.
The thing that annoyed me then was that the majority of the time was filler. We could have covered the important parts in about two, maybe three at the absolute most, days. The important parts were receiving district binders with district approved guidelines, going over benefits packages and meeting other new teachers from my school. We had a lot of guest speakers who sometimes contradicted themselves. We weren't allowed to talk during any of the sessions, so we hoped to get to talk to each other at meal times. We couldn't. They scheduled guest speakers during meal times and we were told to stop eating so loudly and using our silverware because it was rude to the guest speakers.
By Thursday, one of my friends in the middle school induction came to lunch looking very, very angry. When I asked what was wrong, she said that the people in charge of the middle school portion went on a tirade about the behavior of all the new teachers. They said we were the loudest, rudest, most immature teachers to ever pass through induction and they were ashamed of us. Why? Because we had the audacity to attempt to eat our food and maybe talk for about half an hour out of an eight hour day. Students are given more liberties than we were that week.
That wasn't the first time someone in authority had made us feel bad. I went to the special English session. When I said what school I was going to, the woman leading it looked grim. Later, we happened to go to the restroom at the same time. She stopped me and said "You really need to be careful at the school you're going to. The teachers there are awful and the administration is horrible. They are stuck in the 1950s and refuse to progress. A lot of new teachers lose their special spark while they are there." I was horrified. I didn't know anyone from my school and now my first impression was one of my worst nightmares.
I left induction completely demoralized and dreading setting foot in my building. Why would this woman say this to me if it wasn't true? Are we really awful teachers? Why would the district hire us if we're so bad? Why would the district let this horrible school that I will soon go to still function?
My annoyances continued to grow. All I wanted from induction was the curriculum I would be teaching in less than a month. I wanted to plan lessons and get my materials ready. The same woman who bashed my school had the curriculum and said she couldn't give them to us. We had to go to another special PD to get the curriculum. All of the new English teachers in the district were gathered in one place and she told us we had to go to one more PD to get the curriculum we all wanted. The PD happened to be at the exact same time as my school's orientation. She told me to skip it because what she was going to do was far more important than anything that awful school would teach me. I chose to attend my school's orientation still and only make it to one day of her two day PD. Her PD consisted of exactly the same information I'd learned during her session at New Teacher Induction.
The final thing that drove me crazy was all of the out of town teachers who were recruited to come to our district from Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri and other states. Why? Because some of my friends still didn't have jobs. Why would the district recruit outside of the state when we had dozens of teachers I graduated with, good, caring teachers, who did not have jobs? And those were just the people I graduated with at the University of Louisville. There were still other teachers from the state who graduated from different universities.
I have never truly regretted becoming a teacher. The closest I've come is directly after New Teacher Induction. I learned we were terrible, rude people. I found out that the district recruited outside of the state as if there was a teacher shortage when there wasn't. I learned that the school I was going to be teaching in was horrible and I should run screaming from the building, not because of the students but the faculty and staff. I learned that I had to jump through hoops to get the things I needed to be a good teacher. I learned that sometimes public school seems like a big business rather than a way to help children learn.
Thankfully, my orientation at my school was the following week. It, thankfully, lasted a day, as it was supposed to. I met wonderful, caring teachers who were there to help me get used to my building. We weren't stuck in the 1950s. In fact, I can't imagine working for another school. We have the perfect balance of traditional values combined with modern teaching techniques. The idea that the administration could be anything but helpful seems laughable now. When I mentioned that someone had told me horrible things about the school, the teacher leading our orientation shook her head and said "She obviously hasn't been in the building in years. This is a great school. You'll love it." And I do.