And the School Year is Underway
Monday morning came quickly enough and the new routine has me up at 5:50, dressed and walking the dogs before driving to school. I’m arriving around 7 and have some time to get settled before the kids begin coming at 7:30. My schedule has me teaching 9th grade periods 1 and 2, including a 10 minute homeroom; then I am off period 3. My duty this year is the first lunch shift so I walk the small of the two cafeterias and watch kids eat way too early. Then I teach my 11th grade class period 4 followed by my own lunch during fifth period. The last two periods of the day are my other 9th grade classes. Suddenly, its 2:05 and they’re rushing to leave. I linger to tidy the room then settle in the faculty office, drink a Coke Zero and review papers or revise planning or just talk with my peers.
The first week was a bit of a blur and I am still learning names, especially as class schedules are modified and I have gained and lost students. It’s a diverse bunch, several still mastering English, and many preferring to be anywhere else than my class. We’re still getting to know one another but my department chair already commented that it appears a rapport is developing so that’s a positive.
Our principal and the three assistant principals have been highly visible the first week, not only in the halls but in the classrooms with informal drop-ins. I got a nice, encouraging note from the principal after she showed up on Day One. She liked the letter I wrote my students, introducing myself and modeling for them a letter I wanted from each of them. This was to gauge their writing in addition to learning more about them.
The 9th graders spent the week talking about Coming of Age, examining it from a variety of angles before doing their first timed assessment on Friday, giving me a benchmark so I can see what to emphasize in terms of writing and structure in the weeks ahead.
The 11th graders are focusing on The American Dream which allowed me to focus on Martin Luther King’s famous speech on its 50th anniversary. We’ve done some writing and discussing and on Friday I introduced the concept of the Op-Ed piece, something they will have to be writing later this fall.
Overall, they are making an effort but I need a little more time to gauge if their level of performance has to do with the summer off or serious deficits that have to be addressed. Since I have to write up three goals and do Student Learning Objectives, this may become my emphasis.
After a year interning and two rounds of student teaching, I felt comfortable in the classroom but it still isn’t quite feeling real yet. Yes, they’re mine and yes, I got a pay check on Friday, but I still need this to feel more permanent. Getting my email and network password on Tuesday should go a ways to making that a reality.
With one week down, I am now planning two weeks out, especially with this being a short week thanks to holidays. I’ll have to adjust on the fly with fire drills and assemblies in the mix but I would say I am off to a good start.
The next goal is to settle into a rhythm and get a sense of timing so I see just how much free time I have for my other interests and commitments. That will certainly take more time.