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.]

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2 responses to “The First Weeks of School: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

  1. Hey, I found you because I reviewed the new “Inside Out” for Darren Crovitz and I liked what you said at the end. Then I found Darren on twitter, then I found you, then I came here. I’m working my way from the beginning to the newest entries.

    I just graduated two weeks ago. I’m ten years older than you were when you started. I had a fantastic student teaching experience, have applied to about twenty schools, gone on two interviews. I hope to scrape together the $55 for fingerprints soon so I can be on the sub roster in my own county.

    It’s been four years. Did you ever figure out the long-term planning thing? I did a unit plan for my TOSS class, and it liked to have killed me. The one I finally handed in was a piece of junk, but I got a “B” on it. My student teaching CT told me to quit planning once I was about four weeks ahead. He said it’s better to be about a week ahead so you can respond to student needs and be flexible. Of course, he’s been teaching for over twenty years… he can think on his feet a lot better than I can.

    I’ve been reluctant to write in my own blog, because every entry would be a variation on “I can’t find a job and it’s scary and I’m sad.” But since I have the same planning issues you have (had), I think I will blog about that.

  2. sonnyharding

    I wouldn’t say I ever figured out the long-term planning thing. It’s bad; I should do it. What does get easier is recognizing how long things will take, whether it’s an entire unit or just a single lesson. I started off thinking 5 minutes of material would last me a whole period; now I can pace things out better in my head.

    It’s tough finding a job. I feverishly checked openings for every county I was willing to work in. As soon as I saw anything, I e-mailed the principal directly and set up an interview. Eventually, I landed at a place where my sister had a friend. So network; lean on those you already know.

    Also, consider special ed. You can co-teach or do small group English classes. They’re a different breed of students, but they’re some of my favorites. Good luck!

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