I am now in month two of my third school of my teaching career. The thing that I am noticing the most when it comes to changing schools is that there is a lot of culture at school. There are teacher cultures, student cultures, administration cultures, parent cultures, etc. It boggles my mind how many cultural shifts I have had to deal with in this early part of the school year.
During teacher inservice days, I was almost overcome with all the teacher cultural differences in my new school. Many of the faculty at my new school had been there for a decade or more and new the culture inside and out. They new the families that were coming, the types of kids by neighborhood, and could predict how certain students would interact before the school year started. In a way, I was envious of them and I wished I could rush the acculturation I am now beginning to experience. As I have reflected on this phenomenon, I have realized that I do not need to completely adopt the new culture of the school, but use my own culture to add a new flavor to the already established culture of my school. I do not need to be a clone of the person before me or my teaching partner on the other team. I was hired to be me.
The culture that is normally talked about in teacher circles is the student culture. I know a lot of teachers pining to work at any of a number of certain schools because the kids act a certain way. What I have found is that the issues that are found with middle school kids transcend what school they go to. Meaning that the problems that we find with middle school kids are the same no matter what school they go to. The difference is how they are manifested and how the students are dealing with it. Understanding the school’s response to these issues is fascinating to me.
As I have taught my sixth graders (when I have taught sixth grade), is that culture is something that is difficult to explain until you are outside of it. Once I leave the great state of Texas it is plain to see I am in a completely different culture. Same with changing school. I never knew how plugged into the culture of my last school I was until I left.