Monday, August 11, 2008

the first day of school: year two

The first day of my second year of teaching has come and gone, serving only to reinforce something I began to believe pretty early on last school year. While the first year of teaching is necessary, kids who get a first year teacher are going to miss out on some level. Which is just to say that being more organized, more confident, and more prepared this year makes the challenges ahead seem less daunting than they were this time a year ago. Today went smoothly for the most part, even eerily so. I feel good about my ability to manage a teach this year's group but I also will miss having some of my old students in class. That said, it was good to see the old kids and know that I don't have those old problems to cope with on a daily basis (save a few students who are back with me). I have a new dynamic, a new set-up, a new system, and a somewhat-wizened outlook on the whole. I did spend a good amount of time with the 7th grade teachers helping them organize their classes and giving them the info on their new brood.

This year is the year of the hardass. It's the year of parent accountability and the year of student accountability. Actions, rewards, consequences, consistency. I felt pretty good today but the kids were wary and sedate and I know that won't last forever. I'm working on having a better system of student responsibilities and the kids seem to enjoy the little jobs that always need done in a classroom. Last year I tried to do too much myself and it was chaotic and difficult. This year, for the most part, I don't want to do anything but teach and grade papers. My kids should do the rest.

As always, I've got some super students who will be far ahead of me and I've got some students with severe exceptionalities. I didn't even really know where to start last year, but this time around I know better what to look for, what to prepare for, who to talk to, and how to evaluate the kids' needs. Pre-testing is on already and I'm giving out extra credit left and right to get kids to be prepared and organized early. But this class will be different from the last in a whole ton of ways, the biggest being that most of these kids have passed the 4th grade LEAP (I could not say this for most of my students last year).

The more I write in this post, the more I realize how general I'm being. I'm tired and trying to push through it. There's work to do. But first, time to go watch it rain from my front porch.

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