A Packed Week

This past week was incredibly long thanks to three extraordinary events happening over three consecutive days.

First, I stayed late Tuesday night to perform one of my four contractual chaperone duties: the National Honor Society Induction ceremony. I ran out for a flu shot and to pick up dinner (where I ran into one of my longtime Shore Leave buddies) then worked until 6:45 when I finally packed up. I then wandered the school in search of the event since the Lecture Hall was locked. Not in the cafeterias, library, or auditorium so by 7:05, when it was clear there was no event happening I went home. The next day, I learned this event usually does not have a faculty chaperone beyond the advisor so when they canceled it, no one thought to tell me.

On Wednesday, I had my first formal observation. Since we follow a curriculum laid out for us, I found ways to make it a little shinier than usual. Since we’re examining advertising appeals, I found current stats on the number of messages the kids are exposed to daily along with the amount of money at stake. So, after I introduced the facts, I then gave them ads to examine, answering questions from their text books. I had three periods to smooth out rough spots and then the final period had my room invaded by the principal, assistant principal, and department chair. As one might imagine, 99.9% of the kids were quiet, focused, and attentive. Only one had to be shooshed by the head honcho herself. It went off pretty well although I had the afternoon to reflect on it.

Thursday the after school period began with my post-observation conference where I identified all the areas I thought could have gone more smoothly and the principal was pleased to see we spotted the same flaws. She was open with her admiration for the level of energy I brought to the room, and the knowledge I had to share. She also noted I had developed a good rapport with the kids. It was an encouraging, productive conversation so I expected and received the grade of Emerging Effective but was told they were happy I was there and a part of the faculty.

Then came parent-teacher conferences. There were eight slots available and most years I am told they don’t all get used but this year, most teachers were full up and then some. I had one cancellation but one unscheduled drop in so I was quite busy. Some were good kids who didn’t really need a conference but a few others I was happy to have a parent to share my concerns. It was a marathon and by the time the last parent left (after a marathon 40 minute conversation with four of us at once), it was after 7 and I was beat.

This was a tough week for the kids, too. One by one, I saw some served with in school suspensions, and others sent home for a few days. We had more than a few fights break out across the week and others merely unable to think before they speak, getting themselves into trouble. There appear to students who lack proper role models at home for behavior and others who don’t have parents emphasizing the importance of education so they retreat the classroom like they do the mall: a place to hang out and talk with their friends. It certainly continues to challenge my classroom management. To that end, I tried something new this week – each day they take a sheet where they answer a prompt, copy the objective and then reflect on the objective before turning it in on the way out the door. This way, if they had a question about it, they could avoid public embarrassment and ask it of me privately. So far, I see their thinking still needs to go deeper. The collective effort remains minimal so I have to work harder to challenge them.

2 comments

  • Jim

    Sounds like a crazy, but good week. Congrats on the first evaluation.

  • tim Rifenburg

    I have been following your thoughts about Grad school and your road to the teaching career you sought out, with great interest. I have been teaching for 10 years and started when I was 44. It has been challenging but greatly rewarding. My biggest challenge was overcoming my laid back personality. Asserting authority and “owning the room” were areas I had to work on. My rapport with the kids helped me out in those areas. I think your management background, career (and ability to juggle multiple tasks) and life experience are the assets that will further your growth as a teacher. I look forward to hearing more about your new career as you go forward this year. (Observations are always tricky since you are being judged. Even older teachers still get butterflies or are nervou about the process.)
    I see a book about all this in your future.

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