Wednesday, August 07, 2013


It's only Wednesday, and I feel like it really should be Friday, I've been so busy.
This isn't a bad thing; busy is good after two years of complete unemployment and a year of partial employment. Of course, I'm not exactly entering into full-time again just yet, but I know that teaching high school choir is going to demand a lot more time than Petite School ever did.

Friday will be our first day back for staff--complete with morning meetings and afternoon time in the classroom (I already love my principal simply because he is giving us the afternoon in our classrooms, instead of in some pointless team-building exercise or a training on learning styles that we've all been to many times before). On Monday, the school will burst into glorious chaos as 2,200 kids come roaring in.

Side tangent: I hate to see a school campus empty. I mean, sure, it's nice, sometimes, for teachers to have some quiet time to work in their rooms and prep for a new year, but there's only so much of that I can take before I long for the noise, the silliness, the vitality, to return. The very purpose of a school is to create energy and learning. A silent, empty campus can be very sad, indeed. (Not that I don't like my vacation time--I just don't spend much of it at school!)

I've spent a lot of time this week in my office. An office! Oh, glory be. My choir room has been used for the marching band's summer Band Camp, so I'm used to the tinkling of marimbas or the loud blaring of trumpets as I work. The office needed some serious attention. Most creative-types are notoriously messy, but I am the rare artiste who is an insufferable neat freak. My desk drawer and file are organized to within an inch of their lives and the walls are no longer a hodge-podge of random things stuck up there. There's rhyme and reason and it all looks quite nice, if I do say so myself.

On Monday, I met with my choir president and vice president. Each student group with a budget has student officers, who assist the teacher and help things run. If I want to buy music, it's really my decision, but the student president and treasurer have to sign the form for Student Accounts. I think it's a good system, one that keeps the students engaged in their education and the running of the activities. At DVHS, all of that fell on me, and the kids were not too happy when they figured out that I had a lot to learn.

Here, however, I'm walking into a well-oiled machine. This week, I discovered I have a whole room filled with closets, and these closets are organized into "un-checked-out choir dresses" and "checked-out choir dresses" and "tuxedos" and there's even one for random costume items. The kids coordinate their own costumes and help each other get fitted. There are music librarians who know the system and can readily show me how they have everything filed. Someone, somewhere, has it all on a computer database that they're working to get to me.

The two girls I've met so far are adorable. They are bright, enthusiastic, and eager to help in this transition. My president is quite the Type A, with lists, a full load of AP classes this year, and a ton of enthusiasm. She spoke to her choir friends over the last couple of weeks ("We're really a family!") and made a list of the traditions they love and want to keep around, "as long as you're okay with it!" I just smiled at her and said, "Of course I'm okay with keeping the honored traditions around."

I had feared they might walk into my office on Monday and find all the changes I'd made insulting (this happened at DVHS, any change I made to the room was considered sacrilege), but they took one look at my cleaned-up desk and they smiled. "I'm a neat freak," I told them with a small smile. Their grins got bigger. "Yay!!! So are we!!!" 

They came back yesterday to help me sort out some enormous stacks of unorganized choir music that was obscuring a piano in the office, while I cleared out and organized a cupboard (I have two massive First Aid kits and about 12 boxes of Kleenex. I'm so set). They chattered happily with each other and with me, and laughed when I confessed that I talk to myself as I talked to my computer while trying to find something on Google.

Today, I am taking a break from the office, choosing instead to do a few things at home. When school starts on Monday, I'll be very busy--teaching every day for a couple of hours (really, 85 minutes, but when you factor in the time before and after class that I'll be prepping, etc., it adds up), then going to choir on Mondays, private lessons on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. My weeks will be flying by. I still plan to work out in the mornings, because I simply must have that outlet. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday will be my gym days, and I'll run on the non-gym days.

I've dragged a couple of old bookcases from my storage unit to my new room, and I might buy a mini-fridge (on sale at Target right now!) to keep healthy snacks in. With all this running around, I might just do snack prep on Sundays--baggies of veggies, fruit, and things like hard-boiled eggs, or peanut-butter sandwiches--to take to school on Monday and keep in the fridge for a week of snacking/lunch. I know I'll figure out how to keep eating healthy and finding time for my fitness as I settle in to the new job.

An email came a few minutes ago from Sac Choral; our season is set to start on the 26th--in just two-and-a-half weeks! In June, I savored those first few Mondays where I didn't have to drive all the way to Sacramento for rehearsal, but now I'm itching to get back to it.

Such a busy week...I am glad I've taken so much time to prepare for the new job. I feel like I can see what I'm walking into, and it's going to be great. I know I'll have my ups and downs, but the bottom line, as I told my students on Monday, is that we all want the same thing for this program--success, fun, and growth. I'm ready to work hard to make it happen, and the kids are, too. They want more modern music, and they already like some of my ideas for songs and performance opportunities. My colleagues have been very welcoming and helpful, and I look forward to seeing the entire (large) staff on Friday morning.

Blogging may be light for a while; I really don't know. Most evenings this week, I've been an exhausted (but very satisfied) heap, and I expect this trend to continue for a while.

But the very best part of all of this is knowing, deep in me, that I was meant to be a music teacher. After three years of coming up short, I'm finally finding a road back in, and I'm determined to see this one through to a fantastic place.

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