My school year started with injury and chaos and it is ending the same way, only this time I’m not the one who is injured.
On our last full day of the year my school schedules a Field Day at a very large park a short subway ride away.
The ride over was uneventful, just what you want a subway ride to be, especially when you’re shepherding a large group of students.
The injury occurred on the basketball court. Somehow one of our 7th grade boys fell hard and hit his head on the asphalt. A large lump formed immediately. Ice was applied and an ambulance called.
At last report he was resting after having had convulsions.
The chaos comes from every teacher in my academy having to switch classrooms before next year starts. This is not typical even though it will be my fifth move in the four years I’ve worked at this school.
I am envious of those teachers who simply lock up at the end of the year and walk away leaving the room only requiring minimum effort to get the room ready for September’s students.
Not only have I had to move rooms every year I’ve taught, I’ve had to learn a new curriculum or two.
Next year I’ll be teaching 8th grade social studies again, but I’ll also be teaching the 7th grade for the first time. I’ll be teaching general and special education classes. My principal wants me to develop a technology-based literacy-heavy approach to the curriculum.
I’m happy about all that.
The 7th grade class will be this year’s 6th graders who I enjoy so much. The 8th grade class, this year’s 7th graders, is generally considered a class to avoid if you can.
I can’t, and I’m agonizing over how to approach them.
I’m being advised to be very strict, to set clear procedures with high standards of behavior and enforce them rigorously. This includes making them line-up silently before entering the class and behaving with maximum comportment once inside.
I am not a very strict person. I’m very relaxed in an energetic, intense way. I am far more inclined to tell students what I expect and help them try to grow to reach those expectations.
I’ve got to admit that this approach has not worked well for me and, as the saying goes, doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome leads to insanity. I’m afraid it will also result in diminished learning opportunities for those students who already have large educational deficits.
So strict it will be. I have all summer to practice my teacher stare, to learn how to project my voice better while learning that new curriculum and figuring out how to use technology to teach my students.
I’m also taking additional training in social studies content, on how to use my interactive white board to teach social studies and on grant writing.
So that’s how I’m spending my summer “off.”
Oh, I do get to take a trip. My wife and I are going to spend a week in Santa Fe.
For that week I’m going to try to forget about students, forget about curriculum, forget about planning and forget about gathering materials and resources,
Why doesn’t anyone believe me when I say that?