Current/Recent Reading List

02 September 2007

Week 1 Retro - The General

Let's start with some general observations from my first week of school in my new environment. First, it was probably the best first week I've ever had as far as all three classes running smoothly and efficiently. Some of this is due to my own improvements; most is probably due to having fairly good kids (knock, knock). Tomorrow I'll do my retrospective on some more specific details, but for the moment I'll report satisfaction that my classes and I will at least be able to "do bidness", sometimes cheerfully.

Second, I had no idea how it would feel to be in the midst of 2,000 students when I used to be in the midst of 550. The answer is, not much different, because I don't see all of them all the time. In my little corner of my building, I'm basically just seeing segments of the school population each day, so it doesn't feel overwhelming. Granted, when I took my junior homeroom to its class assembly with the principal, I noted that the entire junior class, gathered on the bleachers, looked like the whole student body of my former school.

Speaking of the assembly, the principal (rumored to be retiring this year), said "Good Morning," and then stood in a pose of stoic defiance, as if he were staring at each individual eye to eye. The kids got quiet in a hurry, except for one smartie who let out a "Whooo!" Minutes later, two girls were led out by a history teacher. The rest of the time the kids were completely attentive (well, at least silent), though I know they didn't want to be. But by God, they were, and I never saw that happen at my old school.

The teachers at my old school were almost all wonderful to me, and willing to help with almost anything. But, partially because there were only four of us, members of my department there rarely collaborated or came up with skeletal gameplans for how certain subjects would be approached. None of us would have refused to help each other, but we were content to all do our own thing, for the most part. Some of this was also due to the knowledge that one of the four was, sad to say, an embarrasment who nonetheless posed as a know-it-all.

My current department is much more collaborative, and everyone is much more active in asking the new guys if we need help. Case in point: after cobbling together some writing and short fiction lessons to get through week one, on Friday I needed to sit down and really plan out my next couple of weeks, especially what I'm going to do with Gilgamesh. However, due to homeroom my planning period has been pinched all week, and I had to attend training on how to set up a web page. Ordinarily this would have added up to leaving later on Friday than I would have liked, but all I ended up having to do was check with one of the other 10th grade teachers, who keeps the "10th Grade Notebook", a massive compilation of lessons and activities in oh-so-neat page protectors. Within thiry minutes I've got next week's Latin roots activities and quizzes ready to go, as well as vocabulary lists, Tuesday's lessons on Ancient Mesopotamia and its literature, and enough Gilgamesh stuff to choke a goat.

What I can't wait to do later in the semester is add to that notebook with my own variety o' cool lessons for The Tempest, La Commedia Divina, and "The Metamorphosis". Of course, I'll probably have to borrow the page protectors off someone - neatness isn't really my thing.

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