So this past Wednesday (8/22) I started at a brand new school. So much is different. First and foremost the student body has more than quadrupled, along with all the staff. A huge change now is that instead of me being about to make my own copies the night before (because I was a first year and I was just trying to make it through) I now have to give all my copies to the “Copy Lady” at least 2 days in advanced in order to have them in time. It seems a lot of the teachers take an entire chapter of materials to her at once, I’m not quite there yet, I’ll be spending my weekend of the goal of getting this whole week planned and then work my way up. Another big change is the school is COMPLETELY digital. I like it but at the same time I do miss that small town feel my old school had in the way that you had to go and actually talk to someone in order to get something done.
I changed a lot of what I did this first week compared to what I did last year. This time last year I had probably a 6 page syllabus clearing spelling out all my rules and procedures (Harry Wong style). This year my syllabus was 1 page, consisted of the course description, grade breakdown, and other basic information. I do think the change is a better idea. Uses less paper, especially because the students NEVER look at it again. On my first student day last year I went over the syllabus/rules/procedures all in one day and then assigned the “A Million Words…” assignment that I read on someones blog. Very few students did the assignment. This could have been because of two reasons: 1) Me – I didn’t do a very good job of “selling” it or 2) It was just the types of students I had. My students were in and out of YDC, were consistently missing school because of court dates, would often talk about getting drunk or doing drugs, and would spend much of class time cursing or threatening to beat each other up.
This year instead of doing the typical syllabus day and passing out books I tried to be a little more adventurous. I decided to do the “Snowball Activity” from Kate Nowak along with a “Numbers About Me Quiz.” I have no idea what I expected to happen, they had fun they talked, but when they got off task I was already having trouble getting their attention back. I can’t decide if I’m just being paranoid or if I might be just too young and inexperienced to have a first day like that quite yet. These students are so different though! Although I can tell some want to be class clowns and get a lot of attention. There has been no mention of drugs, police officers, threats of any kind and it is SO NICE. I took the next 2 days (yes two) to go over my syllabus, give out textbooks, do a survey, and go over all procedures. Although this seems like a lot, my classroom has a lot of organization (see upcoming classroom post) and I wanted to make sure that the students could handle it. I am most concerned about my supply buckets being abused with either having materials stolen or students not being able to handle having them at their desks. Although these two days seemed to be horribly boring, for me and for them I think they were important. Plus since they don’t have their composition notebooks yet, I don’t want to start actual content. I feel that if I let them take notes on paper that isn’t in their notebook they’ll never put them in it and they will just throw them away, teaching them that what we do in class is disposable (not okay). So yes, I went over the syllabus and then gave them a worksheet to fill out to get an idea about their attitude towards math class (some questions stolen from here) and I handed them out their books.
9/4 – So I wrote this post over a week ago and I still hadn’t posted it. So I’ve decided I’ll leave it as is to help me (in terms of record keeping) so if you came here for something profound turn back!