As the First Semester Draws to a Close…

We have just five days left to the first semester at school then we go into mid-terms. The transition from teaching in a public school and a private school has been an interesting one with many differences.

The biggest adjustment may well be the schedule where most weeks we have a shortened teaching day to accommodate the monthly mass, class competition, or some other school-wide activity. As a result, my 43-minute class can be truncated to as little as 30 minutes based on the particular schedule. While it’s nice I know when it’s coming, it also plays havoc with planning and getting a rhythm going.

Atop all of that, the junior class is split into three, with one-third going away for a three-day retreat throughout the year. As a result, I am left with nine fewer days to teach Honors Brit Lit, which left me in a bit of a panic, worried if I could fit it all in. As it is, we started Macbeth, stopped for the retreat, started again, then are breaking for the holiday, a little bit more before mid-terms and so on. We won’t finish until mid- to –late-January, making Shakespeare’s shortest play feel interminable.

My department chair, who has been at this schedule longer than I have, assured me it’d be fine and that was one of the key positive differences. There was no one in a central district office telling me it all had to be fit in by certain dates with quarterly evaluations and so on.  I have had the freedom to teach and modify the curriculum as I see fit, based on the performance of my classes.

I have even been given the freedom to muck around with the book we’re reading next summer and next school year. I keep trying to find more contemporary works to seed into both courses and it’s a process. However, to have my opinion valued is great.

The other welcome difference is that my Honors juniors truly are worthy of the title. They are bright, smart, and work hard. I delight in engaging with them on the material.

My sophomores are more of a challenge and in discussing it with a friend this weekend, she suggested that I try and meet them where they are find, ask them why we’re struggling and what changes should be made to get them fully engaged. This is a conversation I look forward to having with them the first day of the second semester.

My peers have welcomed me and made me feel valued. A few have dropped in to casually observe me and seemed to like what they saw. We certainly partied well last week, exchanging fun Secret Santa gifts and making merry.

While I really appreciate this break, I also look forward to seeing how the rest of the school year works out.

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