ultimates and penultimates

Today is the last day of “freedom” — but that is true only in words and not in spirit. I am going into campus today to meet the middle schoolers during their lunch (it’s their orientation day) and then have back to back to back meetings (literally three!) with teachers about the classes we’re “co-teaching” (a term I am using because I don’t know how else to express it succinctly… we each are teaching different sections of the same class). I also have a lot that needs to get printed out for the first day: worksheets, emergency lesson plans, rosters, etc. My list has about 20 things on it already!

Yesterday, the technical penultimate day of freedom, I worked with a new-teacher-friend for 4 or 5 hours straight at a coffeeshop (and 3 hours on my own). Lots of writing and revising. What’s insane is that I was hoping to get at least the 2nd day of school’s lesson planning done, but that was wishful thinking. I did get a lot of other important tasks done.

Some lessons I’ve learned from the last few days:

1. My initial posting with regards to veering away from the textbook is just not going to happen. At this point in time, at this stage in my career, it is just too much work for me to do to still get sleep, stay on target with the other teachers, and be happy. If it was just me, and I only had one class to prep, I think it would be manageable, but having to work in parallel to another teacher makes the task more difficult.

This is not to say that I will be teaching to the textbook. Hopefully I will act as a complement to the book. My sister, the teacher, gave me some advice I think I will heed even though I told her I wouldn’t:

[I]t is your first year of teaching and your kids will learn so much even if you aren’t reinventing new crazy lessons each day and in fact they will learn more if you are leading a balanced life and are not tooooo overworked (which you will be anyway) … you will have MANY years to refine and invent and hone your lessons and ideas. Don’t teach a bad lesson on purpose, but don’t assume all text-based ideas are bad. After all, some kids really thrive on lessons based around the text; it helps reinforce their learning process. Go for one cool lesson per week. Not per week per course. Just one lesson you feel really good about once a week in one of your courses.

I can do that.

2. I am going to be the king of “beg, borrow, and steal.” When it comes to great teaching ideas, why come up with them on your own? I’ve already hit upon the genius of dy/dan multiple times, but there’s lots out there. For example, yesterday I was wondering how to teach “why is it that you get a positive number when you multiply two negative numbers?” Seriously take a minute and think about that. It’s hard to get a good real-world example for it. And the technical explanation revolves around the consistency distributive property. But online, you just punch in your question, and you get teaching solutions. Some are not really good, in my opinion, but some could work!

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One comment

  1. Wow, that sister of yours is awfully wise. Now, if only she could get her *own* act together for tomorrow’s 1st day of class…

    -Sis

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