Saturday, September 29, 2007

Don't ask why I'm behind schedule already

According to the calendar, we've had 15 days of school. Growing up that would mean 15 days of class in each class. Maybe 13 for some assembly or other.

My seventh period has had 10 days of class. For those of you who don't remember your math, that means they've missed 33 percent of possible class days. Never mind that because the first two weeks were spent figuring out schedules only one of my students has been in that period since the first day of class. (Granted, there are only three students in the class. That's a post for a different day.) Never mind that attendance is enough of a problem that every student has been absent at one point or another.

I'd still be disturbed by this thought, but what makes it most maddening is how often I'm not told that we're going to be missing class until the day of. Yesterday there was an announcement right before lunch that instead of seventh period we would be having class meetings. Instead of teaching my geometry class, trying to catch them up with my other section, I would be coleading a meeting of all the sophomores in the school. I'd planned for class. I didn't know what I was supposed to do at the meeting.

When did this make sense?

The outlook for next week doesn't look good. My aide warns me that I shouldn't expect anything from students next week. We'll be missing seventh period at least another thee days. At the end of the week, I'll get to submit grades for progress reports.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

How to maximize the help I have

I have an aide in my class this year. On the one hand it's amazing for her to be there. For example:
  • I don't have to worry about taking attendance.
  • She knows the community and can tell me what's going on. (Like learning that one of my student's has been absent for over a week because his brother died unexpectedly. When was the school going to let me know?
  • She already knows most of the students and so can help talk with them. This is especially helpful when there's someone who doesn't want to do the work because of this excuse or that one.
  • I can ask a local parent if my actions are appropriate. Sure the students complain I'm too mean and some of the other teachers say that enforcing the rules is tantamount to chopping off my own head. Being validated by a parent who thinks her son was passed along because this school bended rules to easily allows me to continue to say things like, "No, the deal is, you are in your desk working on your warm-up journal when the bell rings." Or, "You know better than to pull out your binder to look up how to do things on a test. That's a 0. You'll get another chance next week."
All of that is to say that I'm not sure how I'd be holding up without her.

But I'm not sure how to maximize her help. Technically, she's there to help me teach the class, especially to help the students on IEPs. (Not that I've seen the IEPs to know who they are. I think there's only one all day, and he just picks up the assignment and goes to the resource room. What they do there, beyond me.)

She doesn't have a strong math background. If I want her to be able to help the students at all with assignments, I need to teach her the lesson before class. This is next to impossible now that the resource room has decreed that aides should always be helping a teacher in the classroom, so we cannot talk during my prep. Before school we have our guard the halls duties. Afterschool she needs to go take care of her family or work the detention room to earn some more money.

She is able to see and hear the lesson multiple times a day. I try to have any assignments worked out for her to look at. But I still feel like there should be some way have her help the students with the math. Any suggestions?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

It all starts tomorrow

Tomorrow's the first day of school and I'm trying to make sure I have everything together. It's crazy enough trying to be a new teacher. But a new teacher in a new school building where nobody's really moved in nor had time to prepare....Yikes.

Stealing liberally from the dans and I Love Math. While it may be a while before I get anything together enough to share, I wanted to start this space so I'll be prepared.