Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hold on Tight!

Man, I'm really just not finished yet. In less than two months my students will begin a barrage of exams that will last two weeks, taking them through to the end of the school year. Between now and then I need to figure out a way to fit in a couple gigantic projects as well as all of the 1950's, Civil Rights and Reagan's America through Obama's. In addition to all that, I still need to prepare for the behavior that will creep out of the woodwork beginning in the middle of May.

Last year at this time I'd resigned myself to the hapless fate that was my classroom. Things weren't going terribly well, but I'd squeezed out a small amount of respect from my students just for sticking around through all the chaos. That seemed to smooth out some of the rougher edges, but I was still struggling to get through every day, hardly trying to fix things anymore and really just riding things out until the end of the year. After months and months of trying new things to get the students on my side every single day, I suppose I'd given up spending so much of my energy trying to fix behaviors of kids that had been the same longer than I'd ever known them.

I'm not proud of that, but it's what I did. At the beginning of the spring semester I'd struggled so much that I grabbed another teacher's curriculum and taught it with little variation. The lessons I did plan myself never seemed to go as well because I tried to stray from the concrete, text-heavy plans to the more abstract. While the students may have been capable of such things in the right context, the wrestling match we'd had for more than half a year had established that my classroom was a place where learning rarely happened outside of worksheet-style or educational video-type work. Unfortunately the vast majority of those students didn't walk away from my class with much more knowledge of the social studies than what they'd brought in September. The only benefit that seems to have come of it was the education I brought away from it.

This spring has the potential to be far more productive than last. My students will wrap up some cross-continental collaboration instead of wrapping their hands around each others' throats. They'll write a major research paper instead of writing me off entirely. Instead of leaving my class without the vaguest idea of what has happened throughout United States history, I believe that they will walk away with a firmer grasp of history than they've ever had before.

Regardless of what happens, we're now on the downhill slope toward the end of the year and there's no stopping us. We'll pick up speed and rumble through the finish line hopefully each in control of our young charges. Hold on tight and grab the last bit of content and skill practice you can. It'll be wild.

To the First Years:
You've most likely heard it a thousand times by now- it'll get better. It probably won't get a lot of better this year, which is undoubtedly bad news, but it will be better next year, as unbelievable as that is. Hopefully you've dug yourself far enough in at this point that you can ride out the storm while delivering the best instruction you possibly can (which you've been doing the entire year) until the end of June. Best of luck.

Today's Wine: Four Graces Pinot Gris 2008. This was part of a shipment from the New York Times Wine Club, which was a birthday present of mine. I've not received wine in the mail before, but it's delightful. As for this bottle, it's fruity and I thought I tasted vanilla, but the reviews all say peach. Whatever was in there, I thought it was pretty good.

1 comment:

  1. As a first year teacher I feel this in so many ways.