Saturday, August 29, 2009

Week Two done

Believe it or not, I’m at the school on this Saturday morning.  There are a couple of reasons for this nutty move.  First of all, my Fantasy Football draft is coming up this morning and my house is about to be the meeting location for the females of my wife’s family.  Fantasy Football is serious enough to require some peace and quiet, so I took the laptop and headed to my classroom.  Second, and the most relevant reason, is that work still needs to get done.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

The theme for this week is fact that I’m not getting prep time to do anything that I really want to do.  I’ve been in meetings with everyone imaginable (formal and informal), to the point that I’ve stopped with calling my student’s parents because I’m tired of talking school related issues and just want to teach.  The last 30 minutes of my classroom time this morning has been putting away things that I just leave on the desk when I’m done with lessons, and after my draft I’ll enter a class or two of papers.  That stack is approaching eight inches tall.  Then I go home, lesson plan while I watch the Giants, and hopefully Sunday will be mine.  I highly doubt it though.

It might seem like I have too much work for my ninth year of teaching, but to be honest it’s the AP U.S. History (APUSH) course.  The amount of information required from this course is insane, and I’m learning a lot of information right along with the kids.  The real problem is about getting the information out without making the class straight power point lecture, which is really hard to do.  You might be telling yourself, “It’s AP.  If they want the credit, they’ll be self-motivated".  Sorry, but Ukiah High School students are not being very self-motivated learners right now.  Someone from the Admin building commented to me this week “Students are running away from rigor”, and boy is it true.  I’ve been hearing rumors that some Advanced Placement classes may be collapsed because students are bailing.  My own ears hear students simply waiting for their results on the first test, then they’ll head over to college prep classes if they don’t get the grade they like.  My APUSH class is at 25, and nobody has bailed yet after the first test.  However I’m really feeding them information from lectures, and that is slowing my pace down.  If I don’t stick to my schedule (something preached at the Cherry Creek AP conference), I’m not going to get it all in. 

That issue with rigor is dogging me in other classes too.  A student that I really liked complained that too much of the class was going through the book (two sections in two weeks, meaning about 6-7 pages), and that they wanted the notes only.  It was the clear sign that once they leave the classroom, a lot of students don’t want to be at all bothered by school.  It’s party time, period.  And in this town, I’m only finding that it is getting harder and harder for students to be self-learners. 

I nailed my first two cell phones yesterday.  Students were just texting away and I took them, gave them back at the end of the period, and issued the last warning to them.  It won’t be the last time this happens, as my number one discipline issue is cell phone use in the classroom. 

My overall classroom teaching was pretty good this week, although I haven’t been getting great sleep lately and first period has been shaky on occasion.  When I mean shaky, I mean my energy level is down and the class isn’t up to what I want it to be.   Yesterday it make a production possibilities lesson stumble and not go with fluidity.   Next week’s task is to get some sleep.  Oh, and teach the lead up to the American Revolution, the Role of Government in Economics, John Locke, How to Write a Thesis Statement, and good old Back to School Night.

blog comments powered by Disqus