Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back to School

School started last Monday. I found out what I was supposed to be teaching when I walked in that morning and checked the online grading system. 1st Period: General US History, 2nd Period: AP US History, and 3rd Period: AP US History. The AP classes are year-long, but I will only have the general US class until Christmas. This schedule will be a lot of work, since 11th grade History is a highly-tested subject in Georgia, but it is a lot more interesting to me than the other social studies classes.

The school is just as unorganized and out-of-touch as ever, but there were a few pleasant surprises as I started the year. My room is awesome. I love having a place to work, a board that I can write lessons on, walls that I can decorate, and a phone that I can use to call parents. It is right across from the discipline office, so hopefully that will give the students a little extra incentive to behave.

With all the last minute schedule-changing that went on, I somehow ended up with 4th period planning. My 3rd period class leaves for the last lunch wave at 12:50, which means I am done teaching each day by 12:50. I still have hall duty from 1:20-1:40, but 4th period is the longest period of the day and I am SO thankful that I don't have to teach through it again this year. Also, I was one of the few fortunate teachers who wasn't assigned a homeroom class. So, every other Wednesday morning, I'll get 30 minutes free while everyone else is in homeroom. (except when a homeroom teacher is late for school and they come find me and make me cover... which has already happened)

In fact, I am so excited about the way my schedule is set up that I am not even going to complain in this post about how every teacher had to give multiple intelligence tests to our students and then break down and post the data. I also won't complain about the fact that my Advanced Placement students wouldn't be considered AP at any other school (one of them didn't know what a "European" was). And I won't mention the fact that every day this week my 2nd period class is being pulled out to take a practice GA High School Graduation Test and that I have to help proctor 150 students who would rather text, curse, and laugh than do anything that could help their academic future. I'll save the negatives for the next post :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Here We Go Again

Pre-planning started on Wednesday and we kicked it off with the first of many looooong faculty meetings. One of the first things anyone said to me was, “I’m surprised you’re back.” Thanks. Nice to see you too. We talked about a whole bunch of nothing for 4 hours and were released to start working in our rooms.

This year, much to my delight, I HAVE A CLASSROOM! It’s difficult to explain how wonderful it is to have a home and a place to spread out. Other teachers keep walking in my room to tell me how happy they are for me. Other than the fact that all the furniture had been waxed to the floor over the summer, it is a great room. I inherited 4 filing cabinets full of chalk, 4 globes from the 80s, an American flag, and a step stool (which I will definitely be using). They also issued me my very own classroom key. No more searching the school at 6:50 am for a janitor because I am locked out of the room where I parked my cart!

Thank goodness for the classroom, because nothing else about the school year has been decided. Since my last blog, my class schedule has been changed twice. The students’ first day is tomorrow and I currently have no idea what I will be teaching when I walk in tomorrow morning. Now, I don’t have a degree in educational leadership, but it seems like a schedule would be the number one thing you would want to have figured out before the kids actually come into the building. But, what do I know, I’m just a teacher. I guess the first day will just be a meet & greet…

In other news, only 2 out of last year’s 5 Social Studies teachers returned this year. The administration only decided to hire 2 more, so we have a smaller department (and bigger classes) than last year. My department chair was one of those who “got out” over the summer. The new department chair seems nice but I feel so badly for him as I watch him realize what kind of situation he has gotten into. He is an FSU fan, so thankfully, I’ll be hearing a lot less out of him this fall than last year’s Bama fan department chair.

So, I am entering this year completely in the dark but completely thankful that the Lord has gone before me and knows exactly what is headed my way. It’s probably better that I am clueless- less to worry about that way!

Monday, August 2, 2010

I'll Call You If Anything Changes...

This post is an attempt to give you a snapshot of the see-saw that I've been on this summer when it comes to my expectations for this upcoming school year. Last spring, my assistant principal asked if I would take an AP history certification course this summer. She said I could choose between AP U.S. and AP World. Since I prefer U.S. history, that is the course I chose. Before turning in my paperwork to take the certification class, I checked with this principal 3 times to make SURE she was still OK with me taking AP US instead of AP World.

The very first week of summer, that principal called me and said that they didn't need me to teach AP US after all and that she would try to register me in a AP world certification course instead. (see-saw) Shortly after, she told me to take the AP US course anyway and she would stay in touch with me about AP World. (see-saw) So, I took the AP US course, but didn't look at any of the curriculum after that week since I knew I wouldn't actually be teaching it.

A few weeks later, I heard from the principals that they were still waiting on me to choose which week I could attend the AP World seminar. However, I hadn't even been informed that I was supposed to be choosing a week, the other principal was supposed to be in charge of that. (see-saw) So, I chose a week and waited for confirmation from the administration that I was successfully registered to spend yet another week of my summer in training. Finally, I got a call from the principal saying that the school didn't have the money to send me to another workshop and that they just wouldn't offer AP World this year and I would just be teaching general World History instead. (see-saw) This was a welcome turn of events because I have taught that class before and would be well-prepared... and I wouldn't have to go to another workshop!

So, last Friday I stopped by the school to make sure that I had actually been assigned to a classroom and to drop off some supplies in that room. When I arrived, the principal said she was glad I stopped by because she was about to call and tell me that I would, in fact, be teaching AP US History. (see-saw) Another teacher from last year had just left and they decided to move me to AP US. [please note, this means that only 2 teachers from the Social Studies department are returning this year] Begin panic attack: an AP class is a big deal and NOT something you want to start preparing for less than a week before you go back to school. But that's how we roll in DeKalb county.

As I walked out of the principal's office in a state of shock she said, "I'll call you if anything changes." And it wouldn't surprise me a bit if something does.