Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A New School Year

     I haven't posted in the last month or so. I have been having fun posting to my other, new blog. Find the Welcome page here: It is all about my daily life as a high school teacher. I wanted to start the new blog before school got going so I was busy doing that and getting ready for the new year. We had some changes this year (school districts just can't leave well enough alone!) Our campus has been on a block schedule for over 10 years, long before I started my tenure here. It was a nice schedule: 3 block periods a day every day. The students took 3 classes in the fall and 3 in the spring, very similar to the semester schedule of many colleges.
     When I first started to teach on this schedule I was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep the kids busy for 95 minutes at a time. But I quickly learned that I could do so much more with 95 minutes: group work, monitored essay writing, daily SSR (Sustained Silent Reading), art projects, days in the computer labs that actually produced a nice volume of work, etc... Now, we are back to a 6 period day, (the norm for a lot of high schools in the United States and the schedule most people my age grew up with) and it is proving difficult to adjust. The school day is longer, we teachers get here earlier than we used to and stay an extra 1/2 hour. That is because we have to have 10 minutes passing periods because our campus is so large, so those extra 3 passing times add on to our day. Since I require a certain amount of work from my students, (quite a bit this year because I have all Juniors) and now there is only 50 minutes in a class, there is not enough time in a day to do everything I used to do, so they have more homework. And the activities we have done, have taken longer. Take for instance their common notebooks formatting. I am used to being able to do that in 2 days. This year it took 4 1/2 days. A trip to the library, to check out books, pretty much takes up an entire period. And now I have 130 kids all at one time, which means I had to have more copies of everything done at once. Add to all of this; we are trying to fuly implement the new Common Core standards, which means I had to revamp much of my curriculum to accommodate them. And I find I am really tired. Just so much more to attend to everyday. I am hoping as the months go on that I will acclimate to this new schedule.
     The students are adapting; some faster than others. the Juniors and Seniors are having a hard time of it. The Freshmen don't know any different, so they are not stressed. The Sophomores are busy grumbling. It means all students take 6 classes a day and because we do not have the budget for class sets of books, all the kids have to carry, sometimes, up to 5 big textbooks around all day. We no longer have lockers on this campus, (they were removed many years ago and they are quite costly to maintain) so the burden is on the kids. Here's what I've noticed: Kids walking around with backpacks on but carrying their books. Why don't they put them in the backpack? Because they're not used to carrying books. When we were on the block schedule only 1/2 the population took, say, English, at a time so we had enough books to have class sets, which meant the kids didn't have to carry around their books everyday. It looks really odd they way they do it. And it not as if their backpacks look full already. I guess it will take all of us a time to adjust.
     So, if you are looking for me, I will be posting every school day on my other blog "Good Morning, Mrs. Nelson!"  I'm not giving up this blog, so don't worry! I will be back to rant and ponder and opine, hopefully on a regular basis. And for those of you who have been following me, I am hoping to publish my personal essay work (blog posts included) in the near future. I'll keep everyone posted as that process goes along.
     In the mean time, the day is almost over for me. I need a nap!

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