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Today marks the very first day of my teaching career. Sort of. It was the very first day of my very first practicum. (But soon I will be finished with all six practicums, I’ll move on to student teaching, and then I will be a real teacher!) Since it was my first day, I was not able to do anything but sit and observe the classroom for three hours, but tomorrow, I will walk in there with my second grade mathematics lesson plan and teach my little heart out! Hip hip hooray!

I really am excited about this. I’ve always liked the idea of second grade and (lucky me) the kids seem really great and well-behaved. We’ll see how that pans out during the next two weeks. The teacher, also, seems like she is going to be great to work with. She was very helpful this morning trying to help me understand what the students were learning and how to teach them. I am definitely excited. But I am oh-so-nervous! I have to write real lesson plans! And teach real students! And it’s MATH!! Actually, I really enjoy math, but I never enjoyed learning math and I never really liked my math teachers. So how on Earth am I going to know how to teach math! It’s so overwhelming.

Other than my own personal dilemmas, I was intrigued by the school where I will be teaching. This is a very small school in a very small district. Small, as in: one grade school, one middle school, and one high school. And the middle school and high school share a building. I have seen these school districts on my numerous drives to my grandmother’s house, but I have never been a part of them. I am definitely more accustomed to three high schools, five middle schools, and a couple dozen grade schools. Or a district with one very large 6A high school. Then, while I was talking to my mentor teacher, I learned that the district is trying to pass a bond issue. I didn’t think much of this until she said that this would be the third time they have tried to pass this bond issue. Hearing that, I assumed that it must have been something crazy building a new field house and sports fields or a few new elementary schools, or maybe they wanted to buy laptop computers for every student in the district. Those would be the kind of bond issues even my home school district would have trouble passing. So, I asked the teacher what the district was voting to do. She said that they just wanted some money to update the schools a bit (a new computer lab? I thought) with some new carpet, new windows, and new air conditioning (!!!). I was shocked! I had already been informed that the school’s air conditioning did not work, and I could see that the carpet had been worn out since the day the building was built. This school needed to be updated! So why had the bond issue not passed?

This was the first time I had ever understood what it really meant to be in a low-income school district. My district at home is considered low-income, but I suppose that it is also large enough and diverse enough that it doesn’t matter. This school district where I will be teaching for the next two weeks is definitely in more dire straits than what I am used to. This is not to say that I have any problems with my practicum placement, but things will simply be a little different. It’s been a long time since I was in elementary school, and, really, no matter where I teach nothing will be the same. For nothing is ever the same as your childhood perceptions.