Hey, Chili! How’s the New Term Going?

Well, I’m glad you asked!  It’s going pretty well, actually!

I have two classes first thing in the morning – English III/IV is first, followed immediately by the writing workshop class – so my schedule is exactly the same, time-wise, as it was last term.  I like that a lot; having to set myself to a different time schedule sometimes takes me a lot longer than I like, and I always feel a little off-kilter until I figure it out.

My first class is populated by 15 juniors and seniors (though I think I’ve only got two seniors in the class; the rest are juniors).  One of those kids is a boy I had in my III/IV class last term.  You might remember him; he’s one of the kids who didn’t do anything.  Anyway, he’s taking my class again because he didn’t earn any credit for last term.  He’s likely not going to earn any credit this term, either, if his “performance” thus far is any indication.  Sigh.  There’s also the kid whom I’ve only seen once thus far; he’s got “transportation issues” that prevent him from getting to class.  Oh, and then there’s his girlfriend, a tough little knot of teenager who thinks she’s dangerous when, really, she’s only a threat to herself.

Those are my challenges this term; the rest of the class is really pretty on the ball.  I’ve got a couple of the out-and-proud members of the school’s ‘geek squad’ in the class, and though they complain enthusiastically about having to read, they must be doing it because they’ve been coming to class with something to say.  I’ve also got three kids who, by general consensus of the teachers in the building, are the smartest we’ve got.  They are a lot of fun because they challenge the class in positive ways – they’re willing to talk during our discussions and they bring up ideas and questions that the rest of the class seems pretty willing to entertain.  So far, it’s going really well.

My Writing Workshop was designed as a remedial course for kids who failed English I/II last term, but I’m not exactly sure that’s how the class is shaking out.  I’ve got a couple of kids who really don’t need to be there; they passed my course last term, but because there’s nothing else being offered in that time slot that they need, they ended up in the class.  Now, having said that, there are a bunch of kids in the room who REALLY DO need to be there; I’ve got one kid with a 40-something average in the class right now.

We started that class with the basic parts of speech – nouns and verbs – and spent the whole week on them.  I covered the different forms of nouns (common, proper, collective, that kind of thing) and a number of the different tenses of verbs.  I think it was verb tenses that fried their little circuits; I’m still not entirely sure they understand the difference between simple present and present progressive tenses.  I’ll go over them again as we continue on.  Next week, we’ll review pronouns (objective and subjective in particular, though we’ll also cover that tricky who/whom problem) and get through adjectives and adverbs.  I’m thinking I will pound the grammar until February break; when we come back, we’ll start writing.

Oh, and just as an aside; the school’s director and the music teacher (who happen to be engaged) are in a grudge match to see who can get the highest grade in my grammar course.  I’m giving them all the quizzes the kids get, and they’ll take all the exams and assessments.  So far, though, only the music teacher has given me anything back (I wonder if I should give the director some pink paper?).  He’s got a 97 average in the class (he missed identifying a noun in a sentence on the noun quiz, and he messed up a tense in the verb quiz – it was that simple present/present progressive problem I was talking about earlier).  This is going to be fun.

The Pink Paper Policy is in full force; if a student doesn’t hand in a homework assignment, that student hands me a piece of obnoxiously pink paper with his or her name, the date, and the assignment’s name written on it (in the student’s handwriting).  My plan is to hold on to all that paper so that, when I meet the parents during the first grading milestone and they demand to know why their little angel is failing my class, I can produce the stack of Angel’s pink paper and ask the parents why they think it is that s/he doesn’t think it’s worth the time to do the work.  We talked, during our last staff meeting, about instituting a “no late work” policy across the board (it should be noted here that, of the seven member staff, five of us already have that policy in our syllabi).  I think the kids blame me for the fact that their other teachers are now handing them pink paper when they blow off an assignment.  Oh, well…

Finally, I’ve decided to take a class this term; I’m in my colleague’s Film and Society class.  The group has met three times so far, and while I’m not quite sure where my friend is going with the course, I’m enjoying being a student.  The teacher has told me that, at some point, he’s going to ask me to stop doing the homework (which is online) because he wants to see how much I’m influencing the level of discourse and participation, but we’ve already joked (ruefully) about how little these kids seem to appreciate that, even when something is posted online, grammar, spelling, and style still count.

All in all, it’s going exceedingly well.  I love my job, and I feel very, very lucky to have landed where I have.

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1 Comment

Filed under admiration, bad grammar, colleagues, critical thinking, frustrations, General Griping, I love my boss, I love my job, Learning, Mrs. Chili as Student, parental units, reading, self-analysis, student chutzpah, success!, Teaching, the good ones, Yikes!

One response to “Hey, Chili! How’s the New Term Going?

  1. Sounds super awesome. New semesters are always a bit weird, especially when you have the kind of winter breaks we do. The first day of school, I was all, “Huh? I have to teach now? I think I forgot how.”

    For your Writing Workshop class, have you considered doing heterogeneous ability groups, where the “passers” can help teach the “non-passers”? Not only will they learn more as pseudo-teachers, but it may also help their peers, as kids relate to each other better than they relate to us (I know, news flash).

    Anyway, glad to hear things are getting off to a good start.

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