So, it’s unfortunate that it looks like I’m only going to be able to post about once a week, but free time here is…… limited, to say the least. Teaching. Is. A. Lot. Of. Work. !!!!! Every Friday we have a school-wide reflection session, and last Friday that was one of the sentiments that kept popping up. Coming in we all had some idea of the busy life that is Institute, but I think for everyone the biggest adjustment this past week was just getting used to the constant flow of daily teaching, grading, future lesson planning, etc. There’s literally always something to work on. I mean… I thought I was a pretty organized person and was pretty efficient at getting my work done, but this past week every time I’ve thought I was caught up I’ve found something else to do. A lesson can always be made better, more creative, more effective… it’s just a matter of how long you want to spend on it. Considering we have five lesson plans due every week (and are planning 3-4 school days ahead), we’ve all been trying to balance getting those done efficiently while also working on other aspects of the classroom.
My first week in the classroom was up and down. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m teaching precalculus and working with juniors and seniors — many of them have already failed this class once (or twice) before and need it to graduate, while I have a few kids who have never taken it before. On top of that, about half of my class is actually taking two sections of precalculus — which we didn’t know until the first day of class, and the other precalculus section was planned to be identical to ours. So, for the first two days of class we had 15 kids sit through two 1.5 hour periods that were basically the same. We’ve since adjusted the schedule so they’re learning different topics throughout the 3 hours, but it was still an adjustment at first. Add that to the fact that it was the beginning of summer school and the kids are not too happy about being in school, and it made for one interesting week in the classroom.
I love all my kids. I really do. They are all amazing and interesting and wonderful and I’m really enjoying getting to know them. That said, managing the classroom is something I am constantly working to improve. One of the mantras we’ve learned is ‘all kids can behave,’ which I agree with, but I just need to get better at…. encouraging them in that direction. I have a few students who are rowdier than others, but I think everyone is headed towards the right place. One of my favorites (am I allowed to say I have favorite students?????) actually was sent out of the classroom on the first day of summer school but since then has really turned it around, is respectful, and participates well in class. I’m looking forward to working with him the rest of the summer and helping him get ready for college. I could go on and on about my students, but I’ll save other stories for a later date.
In addition to classroom management, one of the things that was really stressing me out this week was parent contact. We’ve been learning about the importance of calling parents and forming strong relationships, but I don’t like cold calling people in general, and as someone who still doesn’t really feel like an adult it felt weird to think about calling parents and introducing myself as the teacher of their child. That said, I finally got over the hump today and started making the calls, and it was all downhill from there. I left several messages but also had a few really good conversations with parents who offered themselves up for meetings or phone calls whenever I had trouble with their student or who shared insight into why their child failed precalculus in the first place. I learned a lot of really valuable information that I’ll be taking into the classroom and following up with students this week, and I definitely learned a valuable lesson in not knocking something until I’ve tried it.
In addition to all the lesson planning/time at school, I had a good deal of fun in Philadelphia this weekend — this morning was the Color Run, which is basically a run/walk 5k where people throw colored chalk at you. It sounds kind of crazy (and it is) but it was actually amazing. There’s a big dance party at the end where you are literally drenched in chalk, and then we walked around Philadelphia for a while after and found a place that would serve us for brunch. Later, I had to scrub pretty hard but most of the chalk has come off me, but there are a few people wandering around with visibly dyed skin. Their students will certainly enjoy that tomorrow…. and with that, I should get some sleep — looking forward to Monday-morning fun!
– (officially) Ms. M