I got the job!
To be honest, I wasn't sure how I was feeling about it when I got home last night from the interview. The principal had pretty much deflated any excitement I had about the job when he talked about virtually nothing but the stupid standardized test for the entirety of my interview. I don't believe in teaching to the test - it's not how I was taught to teach. And coming from where I have, the tests haven't really mattered all that much because our students/schools/districts performed very well. There honestly wasn't a lot of pressure.
But this school is all about the pressure. The scores are pretty much the only factor in validating the program's effectiveness, and if they don't perform, they will be shut down. And the students' scores directly effect their high school options. And their ability to graduate from the 8th grade (because this IS a school that holds students back... something that's unheard of where I come from).
Anyway, I was feeling very apprehensive about the position, so when the principal invited me to spend the entire day at school today, observing, I happily agreed. And I'm so glad I did. My department head was super encouraging and basically told me it would be impossible for me to do anything but help these students.
It's going to be a challenge for sure. This is a completely different population than I've ever worked with in the past. I'm sure there will be days of frustration and tears. But I also think that this is a population that I can really impact in the way I envisioned during my teacher training.
More to come because I have two days to set up my classroom and get lesson plans together... because I start on Monday, baby!
Wish me luck!!