I feel amazing after the first week with the kids! My schedule is beautiful, I haven’t got a classroom to take care of, and I think that this is the best school opening I’ve had in my career so far (this is the start of my 6th year). That doesn’t mean everything is perfect, but it makes dealing with those imperfections much easier when you feel like you have a handle on things.
Junior English classes did their baseline writing this week, and I’ve been fairly impressed so far. They understand basic structure, have a firm grasp on thesis statements, and while their arguments aren’t necessarily impressive, at least they’re thought out. They do need to learn a little more variety in organizational structures (almost all of them were written in that god-awful TAFI style), and how to be more specific in their support. We’ll get there.
On Friday in my theatre classes, I made them sit in a circle for the last 20 minutes of class (that’s the picture below) and write out what they learned this week and two questions they had of me regarding what they learned, the class, what was coming, etc. I had more than one student ask “What are we going to do in this class besides play games?” I don’t know if that is good or bad. Each of the games is designed to up comfort level, body/voice awareness, and responsiveness. So somewhere along the line, I didn’t explain that well. Or it could be awesome that they simply don’t consider my class to be work. :-) But I will make sure I find a way to address this. I don’t want them to feel like they aren’t getting something they expect because their expectations are skewed.
As I step into my sixth year of teaching, I am finding myself finally comfortable with the process of starting a new year. The change of schools last year was my crossroads - deciding whether I was in this for good or I would be finding a different line of work.
So, I’m in. This year, my goals are to let things go that I can’t change and learn to work this horrendous system that is now in place. I will learn it, and I will learn to work with it, through it, and around it. And my ultimate goal - now - is to change it in whatever way I can affect it positively.
In other, day-to-day news: I get to float in exchange for taking an ISS (in-school suspension) section. I see this as a double bonus. I needed one less English class to grade to stay on top of all the work associated with creating a strong theatre program, and I don’t have the stress of keeping a classroom up. For the first time in five years of teaching, I am the closest I have ever been to being 100% prepared for the first day of school (which is Tuesday).
Pretty cool, eh?
1. Random collections on Fridays, return the next Friday. My department head does this, where Friday is an organization day. She tells the kids that everything they do is subject to being collected and she won’t tell them what until Friday. The random element (she says) makes them do most of the work, and since it’s several assignments, it’s very difficult for them to just complete that day.
2. Signing for absent students. When students return from an absence, the assignments are in a binder, easily accessed, written by day. The student must sign that they received their assignment, and also sign when they turn it in. A little different from my original “pink slips”, but I think I like it better.
3. I need an actual drama curriculum. That will be this summer.
4. Better planning needed for plays. I need to make sure my stage manager is on top of things, and keep it smaller to save all of our sanity.
Ugh. Another day, another test. The PERT is just one more test added to the battery of tests our high school students must pass in order to graduate. We said LESS testing, not MORE, people. And since it is IN ADDITION to the already required FCAT testing, I assume, similar material, I’m wondering where the money is coming from and where it is going to.
So I ask again…why?