Here's My Future (1)

In Here’s My Future I’m talking about my transfer from a traditional school after seven years to an integrated, more alternative school and all the changes that this change brings for my profession.

This is something I had wanted to do for a while and couldn’t because it wasn’t official, but now I don’t know how to start. I have been writing critically about school very often and made it clear that I have some issues with the school I am working at right now. So, after spending a lot of (too much) time considering my situation, I decided to leave my school and find something else. This will happen soon now and I thought this is a good opportunity to first talk about the whys and whats and to continually document the changes and challenges I will encounter in the coming weeks and months, if only to process myself what is happening now. But maybe this is interesting to others to, so join me in taking a leap of faith into new territory.

The first time I thought about leaving my school was after the big drama about my play, which I detailed here already. But afterwards, I just retreated within the school and continued to do my thing in my classes. Then the ridiculous strike incident. Then, the project thing happened and while this turned out better than I thought, it showed me again that my colleagues mostly didn’t welcome my ideas and methods. Slowly I felt a frustration growing within me. I’ve been at this school for seven years and spent a lot of time there fighting because I wanted to change something. The resistance was strong even if most students appreciated what I did. But I realized (after too long probably) that I wouldn’t be happy just being the rebel for much longer. I stopped looking forward to school. I needed a change (and my family too), even if it was just a change of scenery, so to speak. A new school, closer to my kids, was all I was looking for at first.

When I applied for a transfer I was sure it would take at least a year, probably several, since that’s what happened to most others I knew. But luck was waiting for me, twice. First, I got an opportunity after mere weeks, and second, it was at a school that was actually open for alternative methods of teaching. After a long back and forth it eventually became clear recently that my transfer will work. I’ll be moving from a Gymnasium (the “highest” school basically) to a IGS (= Integrierte Gesamtschule, an inclusive type of school with a higher focus on individuality and social competences instead of grades). So, in theory, it is the perfect school for me and up to now they signaled me that my attitude is welcomed there too. But I’ll get to that when it is actually happening.

For now, I’m still at my old school, for two more weeks. The main reason I stayed there for so long (besides enjoying the childish fantasy of being a rebel), was that I always thought I needed to show the students there which change is possible, even under the most elite, authoritarian, rule-stricken circumstances. I felt I’d leave them to their poor fate of only focusing on studying and testing. So, it wasn’t easy for me to tell them that I’d be leaving very soon and the reaction was bittersweet. Sad, yes, but nice too if you think about it. One course started (unprompted) naming all the things I did differently and why they liked that. One student told me: “It’s really sad you’re leaving us… but I totally understand why!”

It’ll be interesting to see how the next two weeks will unfold. Lots of goodbyes, lots of letting go, while at the same time, preparing for a totally different kind of school. A little transition before the big change-up. Despite everything, I feel a little sad, but it’s nothing compared to my excitement and relief. I can’t wait to see which challenges and adventures my future will bring.

To be continued...