Friday, August 22, 2014

One Down, Thirty-five to Go.

In a play on the name of this blog, I titled this post after the fact that I am finished with the first week of school and have 35 remaining. So the question comes, what did I learn the first week of school? A couple of things, actually. First, I enjoy teaching. Really, I mean it. I look forward to seeing the students, to interacting with them, to learning about them and their interests and goals. I enjoy messing with their minds. These are gifted kids and many of them have never experienced difficulty in understanding new concepts before. In Astronomy we have to deal with 3 dimensional thinking when studying the celestial sphere and coordinate systems and, well, 3-D spatial reasoning is not widely taught these days. It makes most of them have to exercise their "mental muscle," if just a little bit.

Second, I learned that I am part of a terrific department. (I am actually part of 2 departments: science and technology, and they are both terrific, but my new classroom is in the science building, so most of my time is with them.) The science department at my school is made of some of the nicest, most helpful, most considerate teachers I have known in my career. As colleagues they are among the best.

Third, I learned that having only two preps (see my post "So the First Shall Be Last...") makes a difference. I find myself more relaxed between classes, not worrying about getting the switch made from one subject to another. I have a little more time to think, pause, reflect and talk to students. I'm liking this.

Fourth, in teaching 4 sections of the same course, I have found myself asking a given class, "Did I mention a certain topic to you yesterday?" And a couple times I found that I mentioned it in 3 of the 4 sections but not the other, so I had to cover it for them. I have to work out my own way to make sure I cover everything I need in all my sections.

I also learned that my departure at the end of the year can have an effect on others. I am clearing out teaching materials that I have kept thinking I would use them somewhere down the road. I had a few packs of construction paper that I would not need this year (which now means never) and took them to an elementary teacher and gave them to her and told her why. The next day she said she was sad that whole evening knowing I am really retiring this year. Glad for me but sad at the same time. I get that. I'm afraid that mixed emotions will be a common companion this year. Which is one reason why I want to document this year, so I record and remember as much as I can about it.

Thanks for reading this.

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