The Weight

The reality of day ten leaves a heavy weight. A feeling I
have not felt before. To help you better understand let me take you back to
that day. Driving home from work, I received a phone call from the district
office informing me that our school would lose a first grade teaching position due
to low enrollment and shifting teachers.

I was concerned with having thirty students in our first
grade classrooms, however I supported the district decision. After all, my
school is merely a cog in the entire district. If our district is to achieve
greatness it will be all stakeholders engaging in common practice that benefits
the whole.  So all weekend I
processed and examined numbers, trying to make sense of this shift. I knew I
had to meet with each teacher and tell them the news; they would be assigned
more students increasing their classrooms to thirty or more kids. I know how
hard these teachers work and the extra hours they invest to help their students
find success – now I would be adding more to their already full plate. What
would that conversation look like?

I knew I needed to be strategic. I knew the space I used to
tell them the news would be forever contaminated. I met individually with each
teacher. I told them the news as diplomatically as I could. Upon reflection I
could have called them all together, but I wanted them to hear from me in a
one-to-one setting, feeling comfortable to express their individual feelings
and gut reactions. As the day went on I noticed the teachers meeting in the
hallway or in their classrooms to discuss the news. They decided to meet the
next day to place students and articulate the transition.

Next it was time to contact parents. We sent letters home to
the parents of each child explaining due to low enrollment some teachers needed
to be shifted and this would impact their child’s current placement.  I also called all parents and spoke
directly to them or left a detailed message. I am certain that the news hit
suddenly and time was needed to process. It was not until the day after that I
began to receive phone calls. “I am sure there is a mistake, did you say my
child would be going into a class with 29 other students?” “I moved back to
your school from the charter school because class sizes were smaller, I am
questioning my decision to return.” These were difficult comments to respond
to. Let’s be honest it concerns me to have such large class sizes.

Unfortunately, educators across the state and country are
also feeling the weight. Arizona is number one in reducing per-pupil funding to
K-12 schools by more than 20 percent in 2012-2013. 


Jen Robinson

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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