River Deep, Mountain High

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 14 2011

What A Difference A Year Makes! (Knock on Wood)

So far, so good! School has been in session for a week and my first five days are already in my semi-unofficial Top 15 list of best days. Yes, it’s been that good (knock on wood). I’m not really sure what the major reason is for the drastic change in my first week so far but I’m really enjoying myself, my students, and my school environment at the moment. I’m hoping, praying and planning that we can maintain this positive momentum. Thank you, Sir Isaac Newton.

Besides everything feeling generally more natural to me, there are a few key differences between this year and last year:
1.) Our kids received schedules on the first day. Last year, I basically babysat the same 20-25 students for over a week to start out the year. I won’t dwell on that experience at this time, but let’s just say it drained my energy and sternness…
2.) I have resources such as a curriculum, books (albeit a class set), two LCD projectors, people to plan with etc. Last year, the science curriculum was new and I had to reinvent the wheel often, which was frustrating to say the least. We’re still working out the kinks but it’s an improvement.
3.) my kids have materials. Last year, it was an everyday struggle to get paper and pencils on my students desks, but this year they’ve been bringing ME stuff (tissues, copy paper, markers for extra credit). I set this expectation early but I’ve been so impressed that I’ve only had to loan out three golf pencils. Next week will be a struggle since I’m requiring binders, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
4.) My AC works! I used to spend my planning period mopping up my floor because my AC stopped working after the morning. I literally arranged my tables based on the flow of the water across the floor! This year, I’m fortunate to be able to teach in a room cooler than 95 degrees (knock on wood).
5.) my kids don’t antagonize me because I went to Harvard and actually look up to me because of that. To be fair, I wasn’t very open about myself last year, so I think we’re doing a better job of building a culture of trust this year. Over 75% of my students have already returned student and parent surveys!
6.) My classroom looks like a science classroom. I was switched the day before classes started last year and my frustration combined with my lack of natural interior decorating skills led to my classroom looking like a hot mess for half the year. It’s still not perfect, but it’s more conducive to learning now. Kudos to my female colleagues for their inspiration and advice!
7.) Fights! I broke up a cafeteria fight on the 2nd day of school last year and it was ugly as my clipboard flew all over the place and I didn’t yet know the art of breaking up a fight. Let’s just say that after last year, I’m about as well-seasoned as a breadstick from the Olive Garden (yum!). This time, when I broke up a first week scuffle it was better because I gained some “street cred” from my students when they saw how quickly I ran across the cafeteria to get to the fight as the only male teacher in the immediate area. I’d much rather have my kids calling me “track star” than have them thinking I’m a wealthy nerd until January like last year…

Overall, we’ve done well so far, but it’s too early to tell what will happen. Regardless, I’m looking forward to working with the strong women on my hall to keep things on lock, and make sure we’re cultivating strong students in the weeks to come! In the words of my principal, “what a difference a year makes!”

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    About this Blog

    Remove Barriers, Raise the Bar

    Region
    Mississippi Delta
    Grade
    Middle School
    Subject
    Science

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