Back to School – Teacher Edition

20150820_105556Boy, did this week zip by.

Teachers reported Monday morning and we were presented with a full agenda that, by week’s end, left everyone wishing for more time. While we’re ready for Monday, I suspect we’d all like to be a little further along in our lesson planning.

It’s not like we can just whip out last year’s lessons and spruce them up a bit. First of all, the new mantra is student-centered learning so we have to rethink everything, from the classroom configuration, to how lessons are delivered. Increasingly, we are to become the coaches, letting the students discover things for themselves and we guide them along the way.

Additionally, the curriculum has been heavily overhauled with learning-centered options provided so we need to look these lessons over and figure out how to modify these for our student population.  They also now live on our school portal, BCPS One, a proprietary design still evolving.

20150812_125301When we were not in meetings, we were largely in our classrooms moving furniture, adding and subtracting as needed followed by decorating. In my case, I have moved from 321 to 208 because I need computers and that room happens to have them. When I arrived, I was greeted with the images seen here. The room was emptied with the existing equipment and furniture moved upstairs. New equipment and furniture was ordered but a delay in the central office means the gear won’t be here for weeks to come.

I also am sharing the room with a Math teacher who will be teaching computer design, a new course, and we quickly figured out who gets which space for décor. Since the room was used some 15 years back as a distance learning center, I inherit carpeted walls to muffle the sound and antiquated TV banks that have yet to be moved.

20150812_125313I have adapted and have a configuration that should work until the new stuff arrives then I can modify once I see what actually fills the room. Thankfully, I have a computer lab at my disposal for September. And why do I need computers? Because our school paper is now digital and the two Journalism classes need regular, unencumbered access to write and post stories. I intend on having my Creative Writers use the terminals as well. Then there is the Literary Magazine to edit and design after school so the investment in technology will prove a good one.

Our meetings were chockfull of information we need going forward, from new initiatives at the district and school levels in addition to getting a better handle on how to teach our large ESOL (English as a second language) population.

One of the highlights for me was attending the district-wide Professional Development because it showed me that in a mere two years, U have begun building a wide network of contacts. A peer invited me to join her school’s tailgate breakfast before the event’s start and I saw many others I’ve attended training with. At the end of the session, I also got to present with my colleague, discussing the framework we built for the Creative Writing elective. That was cool and seemingly was well-received but the real test is when they get back to us regarding how well the framework performed.

20150812_125320Since I have, technically, five preps, I was not required to have a duty which leaves more time for planning. I also like that my fellow 11th grade teachers want to co-plan since I love collaboration. We have 1.5 new teachers and a new department chair in English so our faculty room is now brimming with people. Our new Special Education English specialist and an instructional aid are also crammed into our space so we’ll never be lonely.

The kids arrive 10 minutes earlier this year, and I am looking forward to seeing returning students (some of the third year in a row) and meeting the new ones. Our 9th grade orientation on Thursday night encouraged us all that this year’s freshmen will be a bright, energetic crop.

No question about it, I am getting excited to get this year underway (ready or not, but that’s what the weekend is for – finishing up).

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