There's a lot about teaching that never comes up in an education curriculum in college. I never studied education, so even the stuff that does come up was never told to me. Mainly, you simultaneously have immense control over you classroom and no control over your classroom. Lesson design, assessment, interacting with students can be done however you want it to be done. Long ago I had a job that required three approvals to get a new box of paper clips and had a fight on my hands if I wanted change the way a process was done. Teaching is immensely liberating from a test creation, lesson design, and how you conduct business. The kids you get, the subject you teach, the size of your class and the facilities you are given are delivered with minimal input on your part, and that, is a maddening frustration. You have two choices when you teach. Enjoy what freedom you have, have fun with your students, and give the kids a reason to look forward to the hour they spend with you or zero in on what you can't control channeling your contempt with the system into contempt towards your kids until your that teacher who complains about everything and becomes upset that teaching school involves all these darn kids. My school has plenty of both. Every school does. Which teacher are you going to be?
My second observation is an interesting one. Being teacher is two parts parent with a weird part celebrity. After 2 and a half years, enough kids have come through my room to generate my brand, or something. They've told other kids about you. Other teachers have probably heard about you (my kids certainly share this information all too willingly with me, so I wonder...). I say "hi" to more kids in the hallway than I can count. With the number of kids I coach and teach combined, I'm exposed to 10% of the school regulary (that'd be 250 kids) and probably 15% of the school in general. Yes, there are tons of kids who have no idea who I am, but knowing 1.5/10 students generates more fame than you'd think. Some people don't see that as a big deal. I have never liked huge crowds. I've never had huge notoriety. I interacted with maybe 10 people regularly at my old job. So this is nuts.
Alright, anyway. The semester is over, lots of excellent things happened. Lots of frustrating things happened. There is lots of potential on the horizon and a lot lot lot I want to iterate. So some goals for the two week holiday:
- Organize my curriculum (and put it up here)
- Keep up the group projects
- Find a more efficient classroom arrangement (the TV has been a hit, but created some interesting room quirks)
- Keep raising the bar with challenging test questions
- Integrate some type of regular oral assessment
- Allow a couple of my highest fliers to explore extra topics on their own
- Prepare for the coming of my class iPads
- Don't kill myself with work
It's a lofty list, we'll see what I get to. The last one dictates I take a couple days off before I dive into this stuff. I am really going to prioritize the first thing to make year four even simpler. The iPad thing initially makes me sigh because it reaks of a solution that doesn't really have a problem, but iCloud has really gotten my brain going on how to rise above all the people that see an iPad in the classroom and say "ok kids, you can have flash card iPad game time!!!" Differentiating the curriculum for high achievers is a challenge I gave myself a couple weeks ago, when I noticed that one class had 2-3 students that were way above the rest and could benefit from getting to learn some things that standard academic Algebra II can't get to due to time. I hope I can serve their needs.