That time of year. Everyone on your timeline slowly trickled their way back to work. I just wrapped week one. I'd say it's unique among all my week ones thus far.


I did a few local PD sessions on notebooks and SBG like I do. Last year I helped a local middle school adopt some of these things unilaterally. Their experiment is helping convince other middle schools in our district to start experimenting with their practices. Insane progress.

I don't talk much about my online teaching exploits locally unless prompted. I lay pretty low. Of course, then I became a PAEMST finalist.

The official seven days of PD were pretty straightforward. I prepped the room way before my report date. Experience is so invaluable. I think the last thing I worried about was the school part. I spent most of my time tweaking how I'm going to manage Varsity Math things this year.


Speaking of the finalist thing, I found out a few days before Day 1 that I'd been put on the agenda for the superintendent's first day of school trip around the district. Totally cool. A little freaky given that it's you know, the first day. But he came by, said hi, the kids were great about it.

The real star of the show this week has been the kids. If you ever get the chance, find a way to teach a group and have the majority come back the next year. Calculus is 99% kids I know or taught last year. We were at cruising speed immediately. A very loud cruising speed.

It contrasts heavily with Pre Cal, a lot of kids I recognize but never taught. So we're in that super polite, quiet stage. I gave them some classwork and it was silent. It's unsettling. By the end of the week that started to pick up once they figured out I want them talking to each other about things a lot. A little Estimation 180 did the trick too. And no matter how many times I said they don't really need to take stuff home, I'd see this:

All them were taking their books home! Insane. Curious how long that keeps up.

Long Game

Over the summer, you might have seen this little gem:

Every year I work on helping less. Well, secretly helping more, but making kids take more charge. That started last year with a link to a dropbox folder with homework solutions. I expanded it to a class website (using my new purchase) that has that and more. Test dates and stuff are published there. I'm not going to call them out. I'm going to post test solutions too. Their first homework assignment was to tell me the grading policies and how much all the Varsity Math stuff was going to cost.

Missing in Action

There are some traditional things missing from how I do the first week of school. I don't have a syllabus. I don't explain sbg. I don't go on about what different assignments are worth. I don't go on about what I expect on a regular basis. I don't say the word discipline once or talk about write ups or anything. I tell them to get a notebook and how to request a restroom pass. Done. Then we play 99.

Wait, what? No syllabus? But but but....I can hear you say. In my opinion, a high school kid is not going to read the long list of things you're excited to cover this year. And unless you've set things up to where you reference the syllabus on a regular basis, it's wasted paper. A giant college class you see twice a week. Sure, give a syllabus. A group of kids you see every day? Nah.

How do tests work? Explain it when you give one. How do I track my grades? Explain it when it's time to start tracking. How do I get a pencil? Wait for someone to ask. How should I put stuff in my notebook? Wait until you have something to put in there.

My procedures have always been more effective when the moment comes. If there's something that needs to be explained, I explain on the day that's relevant. No sooner.

In summary, great first week. Feels like October. Legs didn't hurt. Voice got its stamina back pretty quick. Only mildly exhausted. Pumped.

AuthorJonathan Claydon