8 Days Down

This post should have gone up on Friday but technical difficulties made tat impossible although the observations below remain valid.

Classroom Day 1 2014

One of my peers came over to me Friday morning to tell me how proud he was not to hear me yell once this year. Now, the school year is a mere eight days old, but the comparisons to last year have become fairly stark.

I am feeling more confident. There are the basics like understanding how the administration likes to work and how to find my way around the building. I have tweaked and refined decorations, filing, and systems so things don’t pile up and threaten to overwhelm me. I am far more comfortable with the curriculum and feel less in need of my fellow teacher’s guiding me in how to deliver lessons.

But it’s also the students. Last year’s incoming crop of freshmen were considered a particular rough class and their behavior and attitude towards their learning led me to talk over them until it reached, all too often, the yelling stage.

This year, with four sections of honors classes, I have a vastly different assortment of students. As I explained to the parents at Back to School Night on Thursday, they all possess opinions and are not afraid to share them. I allow them to discuss a topic at length, even indulging the mild digression now and then. They are a far more engaged collection of students and as I struggle to learn their names I am coming to appreciate them.

The other major difference, the downside if you will, is the class sizes. I have one section of Honors with 13 students, which is a dream. The others, though are all in the high 20s, with one Honors class at 31. My largest class, though, is my standard 11th grade class, at 32. I have a mix of special ed and ESOL (English as a second language) students so have been assigned a co-teacher to help me work with them. She’s been a strong contributor, graced with prior knowledge of many of the kids and knows how to work with them. I’ll be learning a lot from her. Their size also makes this my most challenging class to manage and teach and I’ll be adjusting the lessons accordingly.

The fun class, with 21 eager people, is Creative Writing, which ends my B days. I challenge them with prompts and get them to talk about their most and least favorite works (books, poems, film, comics, etc.) and how that influences them as writers. We’re working on the building blocks of storytelling along with working up examples but this week I realized they are weak on conflict so Monday we’ll work on that.

I continue to delight in the humorous antics of my peers in the department who make me eager to show up each morning and provide stress relief at the conclusion of each day. In other words, I feel I am off to a much stronger start.