Saturday, August 27, 2016

My First Week as a Bush Teacher

This year, I began my fifth year of teaching, three of which have been spent in Alaska.  Last Wednesday marked my first official day as a teacher in the Alaskan bush though, which is something I've dreamt about for many years now.  On top of that, it also marked my first day as Head Teacher, a position that has already proven to be incredibly involved.

Sunrise views on the way to school. 

I spent countless days, many of which I worked 12+ hours, preparing for the first day of school.  My classroom needed a complete overhaul, the school itself needed a facelift - mostly an injection of cheer - and there was a mounting number of students I needed to individualize instruction for each day.  Luckily, it all started to fall into place on Tuesday night, much to my intense relief.

The entire certified teaching staff at Pilot Point School. 

Cody and Ben (the other teacher's husband) worked to do many little projects around the school while myself and Melissa (the other teacher) went to teacher inservice. That helped immensely in the general "get ready" of the school building and it's main rooms.  Cody helped do a lot of decorating projects for my classroom too, and it really came together into something I'm proud of, and I think the kids like it too. I've had many compliments from students and community members.

After doing all of the prep work, it was finally time for the first day. Our principal and the district curriculum director flew out to our school for a couple of days to help us organize and make it through the first week successfully. Their presence really helped kick the year off right, while putting us on a good track for academics in the school.

The kids were excited and super sweet. They are definitely different than the kids I've grown used to on Beaver Island and in Juneau, but different is just what I was looking for in a classroom experience, so I'm happy to have found it.  I'm adjusting to many little cultural things in the classroom, such as the quietness (classroom discussions take much prompting) and nonverbal communication (raised eyebrows is the equivalent of answering a question "yes").  As the week drew to a close though I felt more at ease with all of the little nuances.

View of the school, from across the lake. 

Overall, it's been a fun and wonderful adjustment so far, but it's also been the most work I've ever had to put into a job.  I'm working long hours during the week, and probably another 8-ish on the weekends. As the year goes on, I'm really anticipating the amount of outside work to decrease, it's just the initial adjustment that takes time. Until then, I'm still trucking along out here, making the most out of our little life in bush Alaska.

Your turn...What is your favorite part about your job? 
Currently listening to... Red River Valley - Woody Guthrie 


  1. I admire your dedication and sense of adventure. Much success to you and your students. Keep writing about this...I would love to "see" what it's like to teach in remote Alaska.

    1. Hi Margo, thanks for stopping by! I hope to do some specific posts about the trials and successes of teaching and living out here.


Leave me a comment :)