September 7, 2011

Here we go!

The first day with students was today, it went great all considering!  We have a block schedule so today was 'Red Day' with blocks A-D, I teach A-C so it's my long day.  Normally we have 90 minute periods, but we had 2 hours of freshman orientation plus 30 minutes of homeroom (easy-peasy since I have Juniors), so I only saw each class for 45 minutes.

I had enough time to get through all the activities (find seat by matching multiplication and division flash cards, questionnaire, index card game, expanding sea creature) in both of my Geometry classes.  Those went largely as expected, the kids seem nice and were generally willing to play along with my antics.  I always spend the first week(s) overwhelmed by names, I'm not good at remembering names in the first place, so when I have over 100 to learn at once it takes some work.  Anthony and Antonio ended up next to each other in one class, in another Sara and Sarah are only 2 desks apart (randomly assigned seats).  I'll figure it out soon enough.

Learning Skills was a bit more complicated though.  That class is made up of students who aren't capable of the traditional curriculum for a variety of reasons.  They are above the life skills class, but still quite low.  One group (of 5) has Autism and the other group (of 15) is either on the spectrum or has some other type of disability (a couple have traumatic brain injuries, the rest I haven't seen the IEP's for).  The problem is, none of us know exactly what level each student is working at.  The Autistic group is all new to the high school and the rest were taught by a teacher who has now retired.  Then, the teacher who was hired to work with the Autistic kids just didn't show up to school yesterday or today.  Needless to say, things were a bit chaotic.  Math class turned out okay, there were 8 adults (between teachers and paras) so we got through my questionnaire and index card activity, but it turned out to be more than they were really ready for.  I had planned to work on logic problems next class, but I'm going to have to cut some of the wordier ones.  Since there are so many adults it's not critical that everyone can read the problems independently, but I don't know that their processing level is high enough.  A variety of pre-tests will be in order.  Turns out I didn't really know what I was getting into when I signed up for this class.  I'll figure it out, but the confusion of merging classes, a teacher not showing up and discovering that these students have trouble answering the question "What are your hobbies/interests?" left me a bit flummoxed.

At the end of the day I read through the questionnaires and found a pleasant surprise.  In response to the question "What class are you looking forward to most?" one student answered "Geometry, I heard you're a good teacher."  This year is going to be just fine.

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