Friday, August 29, 2003

Wow, what a whirlwind of activity!

So, have you all missed me? It's been a pretty busy and stressful couple of days, but I think I'm nearly ready. So, here's what's been happening:

Wednesday, as I mentioned in my last entry, I got together with some of my colleagues, and we basically mapped out what's going to happen the first few days of school (whenever those days happen to be). Once we get settled, there are basically two different programs that are going to alternate days, the regular Connected Math program on block days, and Mental Math on lab days (those are the days we split the classes in half, and alternate with the students' English teachers so they get at least some math and English every day while we still have the benefit of block scheduling). However, it will still take a few days to get to that. Before then, we have rules and procedures to go over, a few team-building and introductory activities, and the like. It was a terrific experience, four of us working like colleagues to hash things out. It took us three hours to do, but it flew very quickly.

That afternoon, I headed to my job at Sylvan, only to find that it had changed slightly for the day. We have a terrific young woman, Vanessa, who pulls the books we need each hour, makes copies, and in general helps us get set up for our students. That day, she had strep throat! One of the other teachers was filling in doing the pulling, but she only knows the reading program, so they asked me to come in and pull for the math and writing programs, as I know them and roughly where everything is. I got in early to pull for the first two hours, then taught for an hour. Then I had no students for two hours so that I could pull (and put away) books and otherwise support the teachers. It made for a nice change of pace, and I enjoyed myself. (I wouldn't want to do it full-time, however, as Vanessa is much better at it.) Then I taught again for the last hour (7:00-8:00), did my updates, and put a few books away.

Thursday was our official (and, sadly, only) teacher prep day at MJHS, but I wasn't able to get a lot of prep in, as we had meetings and all kinds of other before-school information to deal with. All of us new teachers also had lunch with the principal to get all of our new-teacher questions answered. So by the time everything was taken care of, it was 2:30 — and I had to get out by 3:00 to get to Sylvan in time! At least I got to see the rest of the rooms I'll be working in. One extra "class" I'll have is T-Bird Time for the first twenty minutes of each day. (The name comes from the school mascot, the Thunderbirds. The logo is a very cool Native American representation of a thunderbird, you can see it at the top of the Marysville Junior High webpage, the link is over there on the right.) Every teacher has a group for the whole year, and the eighth graders will stay with the same teacher when they're in ninth grade as well. A student's T-Bird Time teacher is essentially their mentor and advocate. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, T-Bird Time is an advisory, with short lessons on character and the like. The other three days will be silent reading. So, an hour of silent reading a week beats none, which is what we had when I was a student. Anyway, to make a short story long, I will be having my T-Bird Time in a small upstairs room usually used for in-house suspension. Actually, it won't be too bad, it has enough room and stadium seating.

Okay, are you confused enough yet? Then I'll move on. Last night I had to book it directly to Sylvan for my last regular during-the-week teaching day. (I'm still going to teach on Saturdays starting next week, at least for a while.) That, at least, went well and with no problems. But I still had some things to do at MJHS, and so I had to go up this morning to get myself organized, get a few items ready for the first day, and take whatever I needed to go over and get ready for school on Tuesday (or whatever the first day ends up being), as today was the only day the building would be open and available. And in case you were wondering, no, I don't have keys for my rooms yet, because of the possibility of a strike. They don't want teachers going in and doing anything if they're not actually going to be working. I thought I'd at least be able to get on the computer and look at my class lists, check my e-mail, and the like, but I'm not set up yet.

And that's about it! I was up there a lot less time than I thought I would be, so at long last I have some time at home with few responsibilities. Tomorrow I'm going to brave the mall and get some new shirts and shoes, both of which I've needed for ages, and this new job is a good excuse for me to do so at last. As I was putting all of my old "school" shirts in a bag for charity, I realized that I've had some of them for about ten years. It is definitely time for an all-new teaching wardrobe! I also have a lot of notebooks and the school's agenda to look over, copy my scrawled notes from Wednesday into a coherent lesson plan, shopping, laundry, ironing, and various other little items to take care of. No wonder school usually starts the day after Labor Day, teachers need that extra day just to get ready! If there is a strike, at least there will be a silver lining of a little more prep time. But no matter what, I will be ready for school Tuesday morning!

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