On the first day back to work I brought my box of desk stuff to the office. Before I did ANYTHING else, I unpacked my stuff. I hung up my pictures, arranged my few nick-knacks, strategically placed my army men...
After that I started asking about what the heck I was teaching this year. That's right folks, I didn't know for sure who or what I would be teaching until the day before classes began. I think what I ended up getting was the best I could get. I have my students from last year (now 11th graders) and I am teaching the 12th grade too. The 11th graders are still split up into four classes of about 15 students each (Which I am super excited about. I hated teaching the big classes) and the 12th graders are split into two classes of 21/24 students each. Last year I taught every class 3 times a week, so I had 12 classes. This year I teach every class 2 times a week, so again I have 12 classes. Perfect!
I am a little worried about the 12th graders because they don't know the stuff I was planning on teaching the 11th graders this year (writing outlines, thesis statements, etc). So I wrote up my lesson plan for the fall semester for the 11th graders that started from pre-writing and first drafts all the way to making a final draft with lots of stuff in between like writing proper instructions. Then I shrunk it down and took out the "extra" stuff and squeezed it all in before midterms for the 12th graders. Hopefully it will work. It does make my job strangely harder and easier at the same time. It means I have to work really fast with the 12th graders, but since I am doing the same stuff with the 11th graders, it makes individual lesson plans a little easier.
I was excited because when I finally finished my semester lesson plan and sent it off to the head of my department, she said it was wonderfully detailed and that she was going to send it to the other writing teachers for use as a guide. EEEEE! I guess I don't suck at this whole teaching thing.
I decided to do the same thing with my 12th graders that I did last year with 10th grade. I asked them all to write me a letter introducing themselves and then wrote a letter back to each of them. It was time consuming but worth it. I've already gotten a few responses back. I want them to know I truly care about them and want them to do well.
There have already been a few frustrating moments of students not doing their homework or not speaking up when I know they have questions, but for the most part classes have been going really smoothly. I am much better now at planning a lesson that will take up the whole class period. I've been using power points and handouts and it seems to be a good combination. I am glad I am flexible enough to realize when a lesson plan isn't working. In one class I could see that they couldn't really understand the exercise I was trying to do with them on writing proper topic sentences. I ditched the power point and instead started talking to them about stuff I knew they like (specific sports teams/bands/etc). Once I had their attention I showed them specific examples of topic sentences using their interests.
I am a little worried that I am in over my head a bit this year. Not only am I teaching two graders, but I will also be teaching a few Theory of Knowledge (think basic philosophy) classes. I also have at least one, maybe two, students that I am advising for their Extended Essay (a huge essay they have to write on any topic. very important for getting their diploma). I also am going to be a CAS adviser this year for 5 students. That means a lot of interviews and paperwork I need to fill out. On top of everything else, a few students asked if I would be willing to be a supervisor for their club. Ai-ya! I guess it's keeping in character though. Everyone has been telling me for years that I always sign on for too much. In high school it was IB, dance, taekwon-do and a part time job. In college it was 5 classes a semester and running two clubs. Now it's this.
Let's see if I can stay afloat...shall we?