Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Second Day

My post last night did not do justice to the first day. I was so tired - and had so much more to do last night - that I left random sentences hanging at the end of paragraphs, focused on a few negative things in what was a really good day overall, etc. For those who are wondering, my school is a public school in NYC, but we have a week of orientation before the regular school year starts. The kids come in from 8-11:30 am, and we get them used to how things work in our school. We start teaching content on September 8th. We're getting paid per session rate this week. It isn't mandatory, yet all our teachers are here. It's one of the things that makes our school run smoothly. Technically, we can't require that the children attend, but we push hard, and the vast majority do show up.

Today, my principal and AP were back from their meeting. It was nice to just worry about the sixth grade, not the whole school. The children who came in inappropriate clothing were issued temporary uniforms and had their parents contacted. This week is all about setting the tone. The boy who argued with me about his earring did not show up, nor did his mother. I don't know what that means, but I think we are all secretly hoping they find him a different school. He doesn't really want to be at our school, and he shows that in every way he possibly can. It's not PC, but it's the truth.

The sixth graders continue to inspire hope and excitement among their teachers. They are beautiful, smart, eager... and scared, LOL! I'm not trying to scare them, mind you, they arrived scared. One of the other teachers on the team commented that he could see a real difference in the caliber of student between last year's sixth graders and this year's sixth graders. While they are a different group of children, and may in fact be better students or more cooperative, I tend to think that the very different tone between the two classes has much more to do with the teachers than with the students. Last year's sixth graders first experiences with our school were with four brand new teachers, who were inexperienced and fairly lenient. This year's sixth graders have already experienced so much more structure and boundary-setting. I just said to him, "Yes, it's up to us now," and left it at that.

I taught two lessons. The first is one we've been doing in some form or another since our first year. We introduce our children to the idea of mission and vision statements, and then talk about the school's mission and vision. Then we have them write their own vision of their lives in 5 years and mission statements for this year. The kids did such a nice job on this. They want to be scientists, they want to be teachers, they want to do good in the community. They plan to attend competitive high schools and treat their families better. Beautiful!

The second lesson was an introduction to the (remaining) laptops. This didn't go quite as smoothly - the laptops need a good clean-up to get them all back to standard settings; right now it's hard to give instructions that will make sense to everyone. Also, most of the students had never used that little dot before - instead of a mouse - and it has a pretty steep learning curve. And we had a LOT to talk about. So, we didn't get a lot done. A former student, and the son of our new parent coordinator, came in and helped out, which was great. He modeled the right and wrong ways to hold the laptops, and he helped supervise as the kids took them out of the cart and put them back in. I wish I had a teaching assistant all the time!

Everything is pretty much ready for tomorrow, so I get to spend this afternoon dealing with my own life... cleaning up the apartment, yoga, etc. All of which are sorely needed.


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