Monthly Archives: September 2008

Float On!

When I volunteered to be a teacher leader thing for my dear freshmen, I envisioned menial-yet-easy paperwork and a bit of Stand by Me-esque inspiration-ing (I’m trying out the hyphen key on my iPhone).

Turns out the first project I’m expected to co-spearhead is helping the kids make a float for the homecoming parade.

D’oh.

Testing

WordPress has an iPhone application. Now I can blog on the go, which is so necessary.

Athletes

I seem to have high more football players than I did last year.  Overall, they’re fine lads, but a few are embracing their (what I assume is only perceived) stupidity to a point where I assume they’re joking.  Instead of just, you know, trying to get the work done and understand the material, they stare at me with eyes as blank as their notebook paper, clinging tenaciously to the idea that they couldn’t possibly understand what a haiku is and damned if I think they’ll be able to write one.

 

A student that I had last year is in my tenth grade class now.  He seemed lazy but bright last year, but his stubbornness has only increased since last June, it seems.  A simple group presentation that the entire class breezed through was a huge excuse-laden ordeal for him and his group.  When I later discovered he played football, it all just made a little more sense to me.

 

What is it about these guys that lets them assume I’ll accept their learned ignorance?  Do they wisen up when the season ends?  I really don’t mean to pick on the athletes (to be fair, one of their star players is one of my favorite, brightest students), but I don’t see how they can play a sport that demands constant focus and a determination to never surrender yet give up so easily when they’re presented with an Indian creation myth.

The More Things Change

My school is pretty middle class (though people’s definitions of middle class vary greatly–let’s skew a little to the lower side, shall we?  Yes, we shall), but it’s sincerely deeply rooted in its rural, redneck-ness.

 

That said, the community’s changed quite a bit since I went to high school just down the road.  The local strip mall area is starting to look more and more like the strip mall areas of the more affluent surrounding communities.  The school is about ten minutes from two different Best Buy locations.  More and more iPhones are popping up in the school (including mine.  Thanks, Dad!  Graduate school was difficult, and I appreciate the reward).

 

Just when I start to think that the winds of change are at gale levels (gale-ity?).  That my school district is a region where college-educated parents will come to raise their kids on books and high expectations.  Just when I start to assume my students live in an area that prides itself more on academic success than being able to identify with Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, a student opens his wallet and shows me pictures of his pet squirrel.

 

Suddenly, I’m reminded that this place hasn’t changed too much, but that is precisely why I love it and think these kids are just as neat as can be.  Ok, I’m done with the NPR-esque attitude of “ain’t these backwater folk intriguingly droll?”  I’m going to listen to that new Kid Rock song that I so totally identify with, because, you know, I did stuff with my teenage friends while music played in the background, too. Ugh.

The First Weeks of School: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

There’s some excitement in the air (for me, at least) with this new school year.  Still very much a new teacher–although with six months of combat experience (metaphor!) already–I’m trying to figure out how to best manage my time, challenge my students, etc.  These first couple weeks back at school have already shown me a lot:

 

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

My schedule and rosters didn’t stop adjusting until this third week of school, and my schedule now is way different from what I was told last June.  The trailer I was assigned for the entire day became the trailer I’m in for 3rd-5th periods.  The co-teacher I was excited to work with every period became the co-teacher I only see 1st and 6th periods.  New faces would replace ones that were just getting familiar, and my seating charts became unalphabetized quickly.  I can’t imagine how daunting of a task it is to shuffle 2000 kids around with the schedules they need and desire.  It makes my head hurt just thinking about it, so I’ve been careful not to complain too much.

 

Regime Change

We’ve got a new principal.  Since this is my first beginning of a school year, I can’t tell if it was him or just the excitement of a new year, but the faculty seemed pretty fired up during pre-planning.  All of the assistant principals (what ever happened to “vice principals”?) had an energy I’d never seen in them before.  It’s making for a nice place to work so far.

 

As of now, the new principal hasn’t said a word to me.  To be fair, I’ve passed him in the halls with nothing to say myself.  I’d love to make a good impression somehow to establish a reputation beyond the guy who almost got fired last year because he sucked so bad.

 

Visitors

Those assistant principals, as promised, are visiting our classrooms often this year.  Three weeks in, I’ve been observed three times.  Right now, they’re mostly looking for how the classroom is set up: standards posted, essential question on the board, etc.  Soon, though, they’ll start assessing how I’m doing my job.  It may seem intrusive and rude to pop in on teachers so often, but I actually like it.  Knowing that they’re coming in that often will keep me on my toes with a good lesson every day (hopefully) and will hopefully give students another figure of care and authority in the building.

 

It’s Still Hard

Teaching’s very difficult, and the problems I had last year are still issues (although much less dramatic).  I still can’t bring myself to sit down and plan lessons weeks in advance, and  I’m struggling with a few rowdier classes, trying to figure out a way to get them to stay attentive.  I’m happy to have the same grades I taught last year so I can repeat some of the lessons, but I’ve got a feeling I’ll be ready for any group besides freshmen after this year.  I adore them, but they’re an exercise in stress management, and I’m much more interested in helping students learn to craft and edit an essay rather than teaching them what a paragraph is.

 

That said, I have one of the coolest jobs in the world.  Granted, I’m not making movies or managing a professional wrestler (best job every), but teaching is an awesome career, and I’ve thought that to myself quite a few times this year.

 

[I’ll try to stay a little more current for all zero of my readers, but as you can see from this post, most of my thoughts so far have been pretty standard stuff, barely worth posting.  I’m still a new teacher, though, so expect some revelations showing up soon.]