Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Beginning

This week I completed my first full week of starting my own classes from day one of a Semester. I got to try some things - not doing course outlines the first day, developing classroom expectations with my students (instead of dictating them), teaching Science for the very first time, using a Culture Assignment with my Grade 10 Math class, using Student Conferences from the start to try to get to know (a few of) my students so that I could really know who I was teaching instead of just knowing the material, using Math Journals with my Grade 10s...

Wow...that is the first time I've really sat back and thought about all of the things I have been doing, and now I think I really understand why I was so tired this week! And I haven't even met with half of my students...they keep missing their time slots (oie vay).

But so far I can say that it has been fun. I did get to start planning a little bit before things got underway, so in some ways it has been less overwhelming (but teaching in two departments, makes the overwhelmed feelings come right back). It is a challenge to work for two different department heads - they will never have the same style/expectations/etc and I have two sets of department meetings to attend and keep track of. But more of the challenge is trying to feel comfortable with my science lessons before I walk into the classroom. I am finding it really difficult to stay ahead of the game, so it goes day-by-day which makes it hard to be prepared - something always get forgotten...but I teach next door to a colleague with the same class so I am surviving.

I had a student tell me in this first week that she has realized that I can make math fun again. That had to have been the highlight...getting to see something make a difference so soon. Another student expressed concern over her success and what she can do in the future, so we have agreed to meet to try to work through it. I have really enjoyed these journals, I feel like I know these Grade 10 students better after a week than I knew many of those in my Semester 1 class. Definitely feel enlightened by some of their perspectives.

If I had to address one realization from this week it would probably be the realization that this feeling of being the young teacher that the kids relate to will not last as long as I would like it to. I look young for my age, so it will happen for awhile, but it will slowly fade and they will fool me with their technologies and slang terms more and more often. I find the students are more real in my class than they would be in a more experienced teachers room...and it's not just about age. They think they can get away with stuff without me noticing it as a new teacher...but they are wrong so it's funny. Maybe I will know things have changed when I stop being able to hear the "mosquito" ring on their cell phones.

For now I will be content with how things are (and I am more than content) and enjoy the things I get to hear, see and learn in my classroom and in the halls. I will keep enforcing things in my class that force the kids to take ownership for what they do and say and try to teach them how to be better, charismatic people. I will keep working to be the teacher that I have always wanted to be. I will keep trying to make math something that doesn't suck for most students. I will keep being me, and letting my students be themselves.