Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Three Weeks In


I'm in Alaska, and just three weeks ago I stood in front of my very own classroom for the first time.  I stood at the front of the room and stared at the unfamiliar faces of my brand-new students.  It was mildly terrifying, but I had planned out a great getting-to-know-you survey and a brief lesson to introduce myself.  My plan was to run the same lesson with each class period because hey, it's the first day of school, and I need to learn who these wonderful young people are.

By second period, I saw the error of my ways.

The survey was too long.  The questions required actual thought.  There needed to be better interaction between myself and my students.  My carefully-planned lesson was falling apart! Like a good soldier I adjusted fire, dug in, and drove on.  The lesson was much improved by fifth period, but then something I had overlooked, hadn't even thought of anticipating, occurred:  I had the same student in two classes, and I had her back-to-back.

I failed that student my first day.

Other issues arose, too.  Within days I discovered that my 8th-grade class was going to be Hell.  The class is set up to utilize Scholastic's READ 180 program, which I was given about two days of training on.  This is week three and I have finally gained the ability to log into the READ 180 computers in the classroom.  There are other issues with this program, but my concerns have fallen on deaf ears.  The students in this class are disobedient, defiant, disrespectful, apathetic about school, and sometimes downright mean.  It is nearly impossible to impose any sort of structure on the class when there was zero from the start, and I'm not the only teacher struggling with this group of students.

This is not to say that things are all bad here.  I have six periods a day, in which I teach five different classes.  Some of my students are fantastic, a true pleasure to teach.  Others are reachable, but aren't quite there yet.  My classroom is quite spacious, with nice cabinets, bookshelves, the works.  My apartment is a stone's throw from school--it's so close that I can look out my kitchen window and see my classroom windows!

The school is a nice facility, but the village has outgrown it:  there aren't enough teachers, aides, or classrooms to accommodate the number of students in the facility.  The school houses Pre-K-12, and it's just not built for that.  When I speak to the teachers of the younger grades and hear about their class sizes it becomes apparent to me that I'm going to have a helluva time when their students become my students.

Right now I am without a phone or unrestricted Internet.  There were issues with my mobile phone which will hopefully be resolved by early next week, and the initial set-up fees for Internet are outrageous.  In light of all of that, I will attempt to update this more often so that y'all can remain in the loop.  Use the comments section for questions and I'll check in tomorrow.


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