Sunday, September 12, 2010


I am pleased to report that my first 3 days were good! None of my nightmares came true: no floods of 20 extra students I didn't have chairs for, no in-your-face defiance as I tried to go over my expectations, no schedule mishaps where I dismissed class half an hour early, no losing my keys, no mental breakdowns. For me or the students. I did lose my attendance sheet on Thursday, but that's the worst logistical problem I have had.

We did a scavenger hunt on the first day where the kids looked around for evidence of rules and key features of the classroom; on the second day we went into more detail about routines and procedures and built towers out of paper (which the kids LOVED); on the third day we talked about respect and responsibility and wrote goals for the year and did a second round of tower building (which the kids were weirdly not into... I either need to do the followup round on the same day next year or else pump it up better).

Monday will be less fun, we're doing a pre-assessment and some rules/routines followup. The rest of the week (and the year....) I still have to figure out. I think measurement and unit conversion practice on Tuesday and then we'll start the first unit for real on Wed. Tues will be kind of filler because I think I'll need extra time to get my hands on the textbooks and figure out a new seating chart (unit project will begin on day 1 of the unit so they need to be sitting in their groups from the first day, but I need time to go through the pre-assessments and figure out how to group them). But I think the measurement practice will not be a waste.

I know we're still in the honeymoon phase, especially since they're freshmen just testing the waters of high school, but I am really loving my kids. They are sweet and hilarious and brilliant. The towers they came up with? BRILLIANT. Lots of cool tiered towers, an awesomely stable cone, a wacky curved Eiffel Tower-ish structure, and more. I told them that the tower had to stand up on its own and they could only use the supplies I gave them (one sheet copy paper, 50 cm masking tape, 1 pair scissors). They did things like tape the paper to the table, wedge the paper in the crack between tables, and, my personal favorite, use the scissors handles for support. BRILLIANT, I tell you. The tallest tower was 104 cm. Freestanding. Constructed from a single sheet of copy paper in under 3 minutes.

Now, that's not to say I don't have my work cut out for me: only a single student out of all 4 of my classes scored proficient on last year's science state test, zero scored advanced, and well over half of them failed it outright. I have students with documented learning disabilities, students who are beginner level English Language Learners, and a student with severe anxiety disorder. And those are only the obstacles I already know about. There are kids who are already testing the limits of my bathroom policy, my hand raising policy, and my homework policy (and I am none too certain that I have set any of those policies correctly). And then there are the kids who haven't shown up to school yet, some of whom are repeating the 9th grade and probably won't be model students. I've already made several errors in judgment and I am sure I'll make plenty more.

But, the year has started, and it has gone fairly smoothly so far. I am hugely relieved. It's going to be a hard year but most of my anxiety is gone, replaced with a refreshing sense of possibility.

Monday, September 6, 2010


2 days to blastoff. I have been fairly calm but I'm starting to freak out. I have a solid plan laid out for the first three days, plus Monday of next week is pretty well set, and then after that I have zero plans.

So that's what I should be worried about. But I'm not, I'm worried about what I'm going to do wrong on the first day that will then blow up in my face two or three weeks from now. Or what I will do if a kid tells me the class is boring on the first day. Or what if a kid asks me how to get to a classroom and I tell him the wrong thing. Or what if I find out some school policy tomorrow at professional development that will require revamping of all my plans.

Also, my sweet wonderful calming husband is going out of town tomorrow morning and not coming back for a week. So I'm on my own to get through the jitters of the first week.