Sunday, August 22, 2010


Two weeks of school completed. Yes, I'm keeping track this year. Yesterday, on the way to a movie that we walked out on (Scott Pilgrim -- lordy! did this movie prove we were old fogies! and man! did we hate it), I actually listed for Hubby all the school holidays and how soon they would arrive.

It's not that the two weeks were awful -- they actually were really good in terms of students and productivity. It's that they were so very, very exhausting. Every afternoon, the only thing I could manage on arriving home from school, was throwing off my clothes and going to bed. Eating wasn't an option. Reading was out. No TV. It was sleep. By 5:30 every single evening last week, I was sound asleep.

The collaborative / co-teaching model is going far better than I could ever have imagined, both in junior English and world history. My work with the junior English teacher cohort to develop a new curriculum to meet the new standards is going even better. Everybody is very complimentary of my lesson plans and ideas. And they have started contributing really great ideas of their own. My caseload kids are just wonderful -- smiling, friendly, happy to be back in school. They make every day a joy in the classroom.

The meeting schedule, however, is extremely arduous. I meet with the junior English teachers on Monday morning at 6:30 to 7, on Tuesday evening from 2:30 to 3, on Wednesday from 1:50 to 3, and sometimes on Thursday from 2:30 to 3. I meet with my co-teacher in English from 7:00 to 7:20 every morning. I meet with my co-teacher in social studies from 1:45 until 2:20 every afternoon and on Friday from 1:45 to 3:00. I meet with the SPED community from 2:30 to 3:00 every Monday afternoon.

The only morning without a meeting is Friday -- when I do metal detector duty from 7:00 until 7:20 checking student ID's.

I write the weekly lesson plans for all the English 3 (junior English) teachers in our building and also post them on-line for the district teachers. I write the world history lesson plans only for my co-teacher but he offers them up to anyone who wants them.

In the classroom, we are actually doing co-teaching in world history and English 3. Our world history class of 32 started the year with a text book "investigation" and map of the world review and now we are completing the artistic revolution of the Renaissance. I'm the disciplinarian in that room. I keep the kids on task -- and I teach the "basic" stuff (like vocabulary) and rewrite the lessons (especially the primary resource material) to make them more kid-approachable. I have worked with the social studies teacher now for three years but this is the first time we have actually co-taught the lessons.

In our English class of 31, I'm less the disciplinarian and more the equal partner, partly because the English teacher, a young woman, already has a firm grip on her classroom and because I'm a much better in English than in history. Though, so far, I've developed the entire lesson plans for our first unit, it's clear that eventually we will be sharing more and more the responsibilities of that job. So far, in both classes, I've also done all the grading of assignments -- because I believe that letting kids know exactly where they stand in class (and that you KNOW what they are doing) is extremely important.

Both teachers have opened up their usual processes in the classroom to accommodate my needs -- and this isn't easy. I can no longer stand for long periods of time and in my own space, I arrange students so I'm in the middle of them, sitting -- either in a rolling chair or on top of a desk. Both teachers have gone away from straight rows into group seating to accommodate my needs. This is huge!

Both teachers have pulled back on their own egos to allow me to interject into lessons, to dialogue with them and with their students -- and to find ways to give me equal "billing" with the kids. To teachers who have been "king" or "queen" in their silo-typed classrooms, this a decided and complicated change.

So the first week with kids has been fantastic. I believe we are improving the educational process -- and I think we are forming a pattern that can be copied by other teachers. But -- this is HARD work on all of us. The meetings, the sharing of space by very different personalities, the changing of methods that we have always found comfortable . . . this is real work.

Lastly, as to the title of this little piece -- this IS my 300th blog entry.


Donna said...

Wow. It's amazing that both teachers are doing so well sharing their responsibilities with you. Wonderful!
I hope things keep going on an even keel, and let's hope you find a new measure of strength and energy. You need to eat a meal in the evening, if only to keep your strength up.

Margaret said...

I'm glad it's been so positive, but I can't imagine THAT many meetings. Yuck. What was wrong with the movie? I'll have to look it up on-line!