Posted by Bob Greenberger on August 31, 2013
So, let’s catch up a bit. The last few weeks have been packed as I have prepared and begun my new career.
The week of the 19th, the teachers were reporting back to Owings Mills High where the veterans greeted one another warmly. Thankfully, with at least eight other newcomers plus a new principal, there was a chance to really start things fresh. We had four days together to meet in groups and then private time to decorate our classrooms and prepare lessons.
It was dizzying as I tried to absorb a ton of new information and it appeared that more and more new things were coming up. I had to select which four activities I would chaperone across the school year and by the time the G’s were called up, the schedule was well picked over. A day later, I learned I was serving on a committee. My writing skills will be put to use since I was placed on the Public Relations committee.
One reason things felt overwhelming was that I still lacked an email address, which also meant I lacked the password to access the school’s programs and the department shared files. Thankfully, my chair kept forwarding me emails so I was coming up to speed.
I needed to determine a seating arrangement and using tips from my New Teacher Orientation; I set up a series of four and five seat clusters with room to maneuver so I could circulate with ease. I have more desks and two tables than I need so they’re off to the sides. I bought myself some posters and other teachers gave me their leftovers so the room began to take on a life of its own.
I finally received class lists and was pleased to see my maximum count is 23 and my lowest is 18. Then I began receiving IEP and 504 reports on students with specific needs. And then I was introduced to the two special ed teachers, each of whom would join me once a day to help with students under their care. What fascinated me was that unlike my other postings as an intern and student teacher, I had a fair number of students taking classes again or in the fifth or sixth year of high school. In fact, I have one student taking 9th and 11th in an attempt to catch up and graduate on time.
Wednesday, the county’s English teachers gathered at Perry Hall High where we spent the morning with a visiting speaker to talk about how teenagers’ brains develop and how to adjust teaching to capture their attention. We then broke into grades for additional information regarding the new Performance Based Assessments that are being rolled out. Our chair disbursed as to cover each area – Honors, AP, Gifted & Talent, and Standard, collecting copies of the handouts to share. The best part was breaking for lunch at Mission Barbecue in Nottingham before returning to high school to continue preparing.
By Friday, even teachers with 25 years’ experience were complaining that time was fleeting and they didn’t feel ready. Apparently no matter how much time you plan, there’s never enough time. While others were leaving at 3, the Library Media guru came to help rewire the classroom. We snaked an extension cord through the ceiling so the only device I needed in front was the projector. The document projector was now on my desk and attached to the computer so a desktop app would give me greater control. It also freed up space up front which is great.
And suddenly, I was heading home and the next time I entered the building it would be for real, with a room full of nervous ninth graders, some eager to begin their new phase of education, some already bored. The butterflies I had been feeling all week continued to grow.
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