ted & pamela

Tales of a Second-Year Teacher, Part I

September 21st, 2009 by Pamela

I’m almost 1/6 through my second year of teaching now. I’ve been meaning to make a post since Week 1, but here it is Week 6 already… and I finally have a few minutes to spare between finishing my work for the night and falling asleep!

I’m teaching 5 classes this year; 3 periods of SDC English and 2 periods of Reading Intervention. The first five of my classes wow me, every day. Either I’ve done a much better job of establishing norms and routines, or I’ve got a much better group of kids this year, or both. The incoming freshmen are awesome–not only are they well-behaved, but hard-working as well, although their skills are very low.

It is only my last period of the day that continuously leaves me with a headache. It has one aggressive, obnoxious, antagonistic girl, one girl easily brought to tears, one girl enthusiastic but often overly so, and two boys who like to take jabs at each other. All in all, the class could be a lot of fun were it not for the very first girl, who drives me, my aid, and all the other students crazy each day until she is asked to leave. Apparently it’s that way in ALL of her classes; I’ve been trying to collaborate with her other teachers to figure out what’s up with her.

I’ve revamped all of my systems in my classroom this year, starting with the layout of my room itself! Thanks to the help of multiple others, I managed to completely flip my room front to back over the summer, such that both the door and the super-annoyingly-loud air unit are now in the back of the room; my room was made smaller with some portable walls thanks to Peter; I added a conference table; my desk is no longer within arm’s reach of students; and my walls look way cooler. I also completely remade my class procedures and systems to work better. I like.

I have one night a week of graduate courses still; the class is now 5 hours long. Yay. I have danced exactly one day since school started. Super yay. But I’m making it to bed between 12 and 1 regularly, which is still sucky but a huge improvement over last year. This is good, considering I teach first period this year instead of starting with second and thus wake up an hour and a half earlier. So yeah, still tired. This after-school part is the part I like least about my job. Good thing I have a capable TA always ready by my side at night to help out. 🙂

I had a difficult student compliment me a few days ago. He’s usually a bit of a pain, as he can’t sit still and focus to save his soul and would rather rap, dance, or make comments to other students. But after I’d been working on getting him to produce some work, he told me that what he liked about me was that I’d never give up on trying to help him–and he’s been diligently focusing on his work ever since. I hope this new trend of his continues! I also had a new student give me an apple the other day and tell me today that I was a good teacher–usually my kids are quite vocal about voicing the opposite sentiment.

I’ve now written a super-long post to make up for the last 5 weeks of no updates… whoops! Here’s to hoping that problems will be resolved rather than created throughout the rest of my second year.

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