Posted by: Magistra | September 29, 2007

Life in Year One

I was surprised to see I hadn’t actually posted anything since May. Then I realized how easy it was to explain. I spent the summer more interested in where I was going to live (really, in whether I could afford where I wanted to live) and have been working since July 30. Two weeks of Algebra-related training, a couple days of new employee/new teacher orientation, and then school started. It was only in the last couple weeks that I started reading blogs again. And now it’s almost October and I feel like I’m already in the October doldrums.

My next door neighbor, another first year teacher, and I have agreed that as important as it is that we share our problems/concerns with students (our students overlap significantly), we need to pair the negatives with the positives. With that in mind…

The Good

  • My next door neighbors. I’ve got the aforementioned fellow newby on one side, and a veteran math teacher on the other side. In their own different ways, they are both wonderful supports. I am grateful for (and still surprised by) how willing the veteran is to share her experience and resources.
  • My Geometry classes. We had a great first two weeks, I think because I started with using the tools of geometry (straightedge, compass). They were drawing and making things (our first “quiz” was to design a mandala) and we started off on the right foot. The next segment on vocabulary building was not as effective (too early in the year for as much individual motivation as I required), but we’re back on track with angles and parallel lines. And the vocabulary is starting to stick because we’re actually using it.
  • My small learning community (SLC). I am so glad I was placed in this group. The teachers are supportive, but not intrusive. I have no idea what they think privately, but publicly they demonstrate nothing but confidence in me and the other new teachers. (Is thinking about how others perceive me a sign I work with adolescents?) I like that we’re the smallest SLC on campus (at least two teachers smaller than the others). Most of them have a relaxed, efficient attitude. Now if only they could all show up to our weekly meeting on time…
  • One of my Geometry classes only has 28 students in it.
  • Intermediate EL Geometry students. Right now, I feel like I can work with Intermediate EL students and advance their content knowledge (and maybe even help their English language development), but I need them to buy in. All of my Geometry Intermediate EL students work hard and struggle through it with me. It helps that many of them are grouped together in one class and support each other.

The Other

  • My other classes have 35 students. I teacher Algebra I with 35 freshmen at the exact same time as my veteran neighbor who has a class of 18. I have no idea who this makes sense to, but it a frustrating fact.
  • I can work with “reluctant learners,” but I struggle with Intermediate EL students who don’t have a positive approach. I can appreciate some of the culture shock they’re feeling, and know that some haven’t had much formal education, but at the end of the day, I don’t know how we’re going to get ahead.
  • Algebra I. I know I’m not the only teacher struggling with freshmen in Algebra I. Sometimes it feels like a fact that half of students have below 70%. I know my frustration is compounded by one strong, brilliant, and incredibly disrespectful student. But I’m just dying in that class.
  • Planning. I plan. Always have. I don’t always follow plans, but I definitely make them. It is incredibly frustrating to be told that there’s a pacing calendar, and therefore not feel like I can just plan my own year, but not get it until the first day of school (or later). The frustration is doubled when you learn that the department chair does not follow the calendar, and agrees that there are some significant flaws. Or to have not yet received the graphing calculators every teacher is supposed to have. Or the set of Algebra tiles. Or another key guiding document. It’s like everything my SLC shows me is what can be good about a new start, my departments shows what could be bad.
  • It’s Saturday, and I can’t stop thinking about school.
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Responses

  1. 35 kids in a class is nuts. Just nuts. And they wonder why new teachers often leave the profession– it’s because they are treated like this.


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