OK, so I never promised that I'd be efficient at this blogging thing... did I? (I never promised you a rose garden...)
But, still, 1 semester in and I feel like I should have documented my successes (of which there were a few), my failures (of which there were many), and most importantly what I've learned...
I just finished up a class and had a really amazing and in depth, honest & REAL conversation with my students. Yesterday we had a guest speaker for the school from SFTS. I thought it would be good to chat with my students about what they got out of the talk. Most of them agreed that it was depressing, and yes, it was sad... very sad to hear a man relate the story of his 11 year old son commiting suicide because of bullying. BUT... the real stuff came in our talk... where we talked about intention and perception, about recognizing Christ in everyone, about holding ourselves to a higher standard and not settling for the common. It was good and I'm really proud of those kids. Really proud.
So, I think it best to maybe make some kind of list of some of my successes and failures... so without further ado...
learning their names... this one was hard for me. 92 students (well 90 now, b/c 2 left our school at the semester) is a lot of names and I've never been very good about it. I quickly learned that the alphabetical seating chart was not the way to go (what do you do when that leads to having Maggie, Miranda, and Madison all sitting in a row? you get confused, that's what!)... so I spread them out, made adjustments as needed, kept my seating chart on my podium to refer back to, and wasn't ashamed (errrr... wasn't too ashamed) when I occasionally messed it up.
covered the high points... what I mean by this is that I am NOT a professionally trained teacher... I don't have my M.A., I don't have a degree in education, I have my department head's syllabus, a textbook, and occasional flash of brilliance (oh yeah... and that whole GRACE OF GOD thing ; )). But, I did manage to get through the semester having covered all of the highlights of our syllabus and with students who seem to have made it through the final pretty well.
discipline... I can already see that I am not winning this battle... I really thought that I had started off on the right foot (well, actually I know I started off on the right foot, b/c about a month into class one of my more candid girls told me "yeah, the first few days of class we thought you were just a b*tch!"), but my desire to be liked and have repore overcame my desire to be respected and listened to, and I am paying the price. I'm occasionally having to rely on 'rocket reminders' (a form of discipline within the athletic department in which a teacher emails a coach of a student to tell them about a discipline issue and basically the coach makes the student run until their legs fall off) and I realize now that I'm actually passing the respect over to the coach instead of demanding it myself. I've been brainstorming ways to gain this control back, and my best ideas are sending students to the hall in order to regain their composure or having them serve detention (I haven't used this yet, but I am making plans for it).
scheduling... I really don't know how other teachers who are parents of young kids manage to do everything. I squeal into the parking lot at 7:35 and squeal out at 3:05. I have NO extra time here on campus. This of course will be a problem when it comes to handing out detentions (I guess I'll be having lunch detention), but even more so, it makes me feel out of the loop, b/c I know that last minute reminders come over the intercom or through email and I am just not present for those. I'm trying to keep a 'this too shall pass' point of view and remind myself that eventually my girls will be better about getting ready in the morning, and I will have more time. For now, this truly is a struggle.
planning... this is kind of a success/failure... a succlure... a failess? I am staying ahead in planning, but sometimes just by 1 day. This doesn't do much for having a vision for how a whole unit is going to go together, so I feel like my teaching is choppy. I also need to be better about assessment, in particular, making sure to assess more frequently. Again, I know this will come with time, but I feel like the better handle I have on this now, the easier my job will be in the future.
Phew! This has been kind of a mental diarreah... an outpouring of memories without ANY specifics about lessons, but hopefully in the near future I can take the time to go into a few lessons & units that I found to work well.
Until then, by all means, please pass along some prayers and advice!