Thursday, September 1, 2011

And it Starts....

Despite a life-threatening illness, an earthquake and a hurricane, I managed to head in to school on Wednesday to belatedly begin Teacher Week.  This is the week where teachers hope that we get to work on our rooms and do lesson planning, but instead have to sit in long, boring, often pointless, meetings and trainings.  Teachers got a whopping 6 hours in their classrooms this week, assuming that we chose to stop and eat lunch, which most of us didn't. 

That said, Admin is making a concerted effort to address many of the issues that caused the mass exodus last year.  There is a new discipline program in place, that was created with the input of our teachers, including yours truly.  If (and this is a big "if") our teachers and Admin work together and are consistent, this should make a huge difference.   We also have a mentoring program that is promising.  Each teacher will be assigned a group of approximately 20 students.  We will meet every day for the first two weeks and twice monthly thereafter with a predetermined curriculum of discussion topics and activities.  One thing these kids want is attention and one thing they need is to feel that people actually care.  I will work with this same group of kids for the next three years, until they graduate.  I am hoping that the formation of positive relationships with an adult will make a big difference in our students.

Another new, and somewhat intimidating, thing that I am doing this year is teaching two "collab" classes.  These are classes that are roughly 50% average students and 50% special education students.  I will have a special education teacher in my class to assist and he happens to be one of the best.  He is also a giant football player type.  It gives me great comfort to know that for two classes, not only will I have academic suppport, but also,  no one is going to threaten me with this guy in the room! 

My room is ready to go and I think it looks great.  I arranged the seats in a "modified horseshoe" arrangement to avoid a back row.  I have three rows of three desks left, center and right.  It is bright and cheery and as my friend Mr. I said, now when a student tells me to f*@# off, it will be in a festive setting! 

Wouldn't you know that while I was getting my room ready, three students from my Infamous 7th Period came by, all smiles, greeting me with hugs, like I was their long lost best buddy.  Most astounding was that after they turned the corner another girl said (and I could hear them because speaking quietly is apparently not a skill they have ever mastered)"Is that your English teacher this year?" and one said "No, she was our teacher last year...and she was the best!"  I take it with a grain of salt and I am just glad that they didn't give me the finger in front of my mother and son...

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