When I walked into my school last year two weeks before the students arrived I felt prepared to do what I needed to do to teach them. To be honest I felt sure that I was going to take over the world of education in a single fell swoop. I believed my big head and brain, not to mention my incredibly inflated ego, were enough to get me through the toughest part of the year and then I'd be fine after that. What that assumption got me was a whole lot of back-peddling, endless headaches, and a struggle to survive my first semester and year with some of the most difficult-to-teach youth in the country.
This year, instead of just assuming I'll be able to handle things, I have a year of experience to fall back on. It's almost solely my experience from last year that I'll be using to plan for this year. I'm making no grand assumptions about what this year will be like, but I am not discounting the successes I did experience last year.
Planning officially began today. My English teacher and the Eighth-Ninth Grade Learning Specialist (Special Ed Teacher) came over to my place and we started tossing around ideas about what we wanted to do this year- of course after precursory stories about students acting like miscreants, other teachers being pains in the butt and parents that are going to give us trouble this year. Conversation centered on cross-curricular writing and reading, management practices and a whole gambit of other things.
While many UFT union members I've worked with are staunchly against working outside of their contractual day, we all thought that getting together before we were required to was a good idea, especially considering the English teacher is new to the school. She will be replacing her three predecessors from last year- the first cut and ran after three weeks citing a nervous breakdown as the cause, the second lasted most of the rest of the school year, but left with more than a month left in the school year due to "personal reasons," and the third was really a long-term sub that stuck it out for the last few weeks of school, which was very commendable given the circumstances. The new hire (knock on wood) seems far more likely to last the year and is someone I'm actually looking forward to collaborating.
By getting together before school begins and not relying solely on our egos to teach inner-city, disadvantaged youth, we have a much better shot of supporting our students as they need it and feeling successful ourselves. Both are required to be great teachers.
Today's Wine: A glass of generic Cabernet I bought to compliment the bento-box lunch special at one of the sushi places across the street. One benefit of moving out of the bomb shelter of a basement studio apartment I lived in last year (155 sq.ft.) is there are many multiple choices of cuisine within one block of my apartment.
On Deck: Something besides cheap Cabernet