Adventures of a New Teacher – Day 4

A day late in writing this is better than nothing, right? By the time I got home last night and sat down on the couch and passed out. Regardless of that I have survived my first week teaching! I don’t think I have ever been more tired, worked that hard, and still enjoyed every minute of it.

With that I have learned a lot of lessons in week 1.

  1. I think this might be the most important one. My students are really no different in the alternative than they were in the high school. I didn’t really think that they would be but a lot of other people have made comments stating they thought otherwise. The behavior and management issues that I deal with are same now as they were last year in the high school. I still deal with the same moaning and groaning about doing math ( We’re working on changing that). I would say they actually get to work faster overall than my high school students did.
  2. Finding the balance to get the things they need done is hard. The way that the schedule worked out for this year is between the 10 hours that we teach between us, 2 are math classes, 1 is an english class, and 1 is a government class. That leaves 6 hours of our day that are set aside to work on E2020 courses. Thats not to say everyone is spending 6 hours their day doing E2020. We have some students that go to the Tech Center for half the day, others have more hours of the day spent in a traditional class, but some still have a lot to do online. We have some students who are only a few credits away from graduating and a set to be done at the end of this first semester and we have others who still need just about every credit.

    I still think that this is too much E2020 in the day but I already had to fight to get it to where is now and this is what we have to work with. The students have already said that it is just too much time also. So in working to try to provide that balance this week we planned a two hour discussion about September 11th and the importance of that day. When I gave students the schedule for the day, the reaction I got was when am I supposed to work on my E2020. I was shocked considering just the day before they complaining about too much time on the computers. There was still going to be plenty of time in the day and throughout the week but I think we are going to have to revisit how we break this time up.

  3. Attendance.This is huge issue for us. I may have 25 people on my course list but may only get 12, or less, on any given day. With the online courses it isn’t so much of an issue because they can work on these outside of school, with the only requirement being they take tests in school. That leaves me with this issue of figuring out what to do with the two hours where I’m teaching the math. I can’t see a traditional points based system of grading working. If their grade is dependent on points awarded for what they do in class I don’t know that many people would be able to get credit. I’m working on developing a standards base approach to grades in those classes. I would rather award students credit if they can show they know the material rather than take away credit because they weren’t at school. We are still working out what the attendance policy will be but our principal has worked in alternative settings before so he knows the issues with attendance and is working to make it so the policy works for them.
  4. My students want to feel like they are looked at the same as high school students. This is HUGE, especially with us working within the high school now. There are some policies being put into place that are making it hard for them to feel like they are included. I do not think this is fair and will fight against the ones that I can the best that I can. I know I can’t win all of these but I owe it to my students to fight for them.

I’m positive that I learned way more than this over the course of the week, but this is what a stood out to me. Overall, I had a wonderful first week of school and will keep working to make sure this new program is working for our students. I’m looking forward to week 2, especially for our first service learning project field trip on Friday where we are head to a local beach for a clean up as part of the Adopt a Beach Program.

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