Thursday, August 10, 2006

Paint, keys and general disorder...

Today I walked into my classroom to find it a delightful shade of silverish-gray. It was quite the treat. No longer will my children be walking into a room that looks like a puke colored prison anymore. No, now they will be walking into a much brighter classroom that screams at them from every angle that they can achieve as much as they set their mind to. My classroom theme is "Knowledge is choice. Choice is power." I'm going to pound it into their cute little heads. I figure whatever I lack in actual instructional ability (I'm on a hardcore learning curb here) I can make up in general investment. I'm good at getting them to care, or hounding them into faking it. So we're going to start with that. I also finally got my keys, which I guess sort of gives me one more building block to being a real teacher.

Today was our last day of professional development. Boy was it a dozy. We had all of the Wheatly High School feeder pattern at our school for what I guess you could call a teacher pep rally. It was FOUR hours long. That's right, they kept all of us in the auditorium for four hours. It wasn't even four interesting hours. There were some high points, but for the most part there was a lot of other stuff to be done. In the afternoon we went over opening day procedures. On my current lesson plan I'm listing day one as "general chaos." This is probably the wrong attitude to have, but that about sums up what it sounds like. For those of you who graduated from SMSD or other such districts, let me fill you in on enrollment at my school. The kids come in during the summer to register at various times, but really they just show up on day one. Not all of them come. Some of them are in Mexico. Some of them don't come back from Mexico. Some of them do, but don't come back until after Labor Day. Some of them go to other schools. Basically we have a general estimation of what students are going to what schools, but on the first day it's anyone's guess. Some teachers end up with 8 students and some end up with 40. Thus comes the apparently inevitable schedule switch. Sounds like fun. So not only do I have to deal with endless paperwork on the first day of school, but I shouldn't really plan any type of significant instruction for the first week. I'm going to be optimistic and go for diagnostics by the end of the first week, but I really don't know what is going to happen. Everyone had major issues, questions, complaints about the first day procedures which pretty much put me into fight for flight mode and since I don't like to fight in large groups you can guess what I wanted to do for an hour.

Another great disorder comes in my actual lesson plans. The district wants us to use the curriculum they've created which is called CLEAR. CLEAR is not really clear at all, but it does cover all the objectives we have to hit, so it is somewhat useful when you figure out how to use it. I have to plan with my grade level team which consists of me, Mallory—another TFA teacher— and a third teacher. The third teacher has experience, but she doesn't seem to unit plan or want to do anything more that modify CLEAR. CLEAR will require a lot of modifying because it is so fast paced, so Mallory and I would like to do some long term planning (that and we're required to do so to show TFA we're good TAL rubric teachers). I'm not sure how this will go over with our third teacher. It's just so disorganized. I don't have books, or know how to get access to books, I don't know what or how I'm going to be teaching in a week. I don't even know if my class will be 5 students or 55. Oh the joys of teaching at the Mac.

News update: The HISD school board did vote on the proposed plan to close down McReynolds, Sam Houston and Kashmire if we don't improve our ratings by the end of the year. This means we'll be all over the news tonight and tomorrow. Joy.

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