Minarets Culture Shock

A new job means changes: new colleagues, new classroom, new students, new way of doing things. I knew Minarets High School was different, but that is an understatement. You don't know different until you have experienced full on #mustangpride and after my first two weeks at Minarets I believe I'm finally overcoming my culture shock.

The entire school culture is based around one thing: the students. Its not about test scores, learning strategies, or convenience; its about doing what is best for the students. I didn't think that this would be such a shock to me, but it is truly something amazing to see an entire campus that is focused on the needs and wants of the students.

Because students have a strong voice in the school, they have completely different behaviors. For starters, they are incredibly open and friendly. It must be of the confidence of feeling valued that they are so willing to hug you and tell you everything about themselves or even participate in a dance party on the first day of school. On top of that, when they do exhibit behaviors that would normally mean that they would start being defiant or act out, they are quick to get back on task and get to work. It is clear that the students know that they are there to learn and the teachers are there to guide them, which is a unique thing to experience. In fact, I'm shocked that as a new teacher I haven't had students try to challenge and test me, which is something I've experienced in every other school I've taught at. Right from the beginning, there was an unspoken trust and respect.

The students are free to be themselves, but so are the teachers. During the First Day of School rally, one of my colleagues leaned over and told me that the most important thing is to be myself as a teacher. At first, I thought "well yeah...I always have been..." but as I observed more of the school I realized what he meant. There is no pressure of teaching a certain way. There is no expectation that you will implement certain strategies like Kagan or EDI within the classroom. Instead, the expectation and trust is that you will do whats best for the students. As a result, there is a greater level of respect between teachers as well as teachers and the other leaders on campus (I prefer to not call the principal and head of charter 'administration' since they don't fit into the negative connotation). It is wonderful and unique for colleagues to have mutual trust and respect without egos getting in the way.

While I could go on and on about how different Minarets High School is, I'm going to stop before I start rambling. To end on a seemingly cheesy note, I feel as though I am truly part of something great and revolutionary. This culture shock is one of the best things to ever happen to me as its made me not only appreciate my new job, but also create a stronger teaching identity.

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