Friday, November 11, 2005

Did you think I'd disappeared?

Well, thank goodness for three-day weekends. This finally gives me a chance to blog about my new job and other stuff that's going on in my life. So if you thought I was dead or something, nope, just busy. Further complicating matters is that, as the new job started, the paperwork at my evening tutoring job also cranked up, leaving little time for blogging. But now everything has gotten into some sort of routine, and I've gotten on top of things, so I can take a breather and catch up.

Granted, I'm not real sure what to say, as I have hit that routine. But let me see if I can at least give you an idea of what's going on. First off, this school takes students of all ages, but the elementary-age students have their own program that I'm not part of, so I'm working with the middle and high school-age students. The students have problems that cause problems in "normal" schools, such as ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome, high-level autism, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and even oppositional defiance disorder (those last ones are the toughtest, as they resent me coming in and taking over for the teacher whose job I took over). They're also very bright and have great senses of humor, so despite their "problems," they're a lot of fun to work with. To be sure, like any other students, they have good and bad days, and so I have to take what comes. The best part is, the classes are very small. I think my current biggest class has five students. There are also about a dozen ECI students. I haven't found out what ECI stands for, but I gather they are ordinary high school students who, for whatever reason, need a leg up while they're out of school for whatever reason. So they come to us to get a few hours of teaching. They're pretty good, too, for the most part, but there have been some who treated the program and instructors in such a way that I have no doubts at all why they aren't currently in their regular schools...

So when I started last month, I had the two advanced math students, the advanced science course, an ECI math class, an ECI science class, a high school writing class, and a weightlifting class. This was a bit more of a mixed bag than I was expecting, and I particularly feel that I did a crummy job with the writing class. Still, they did some stuff, which is good. The math students, both in the regular and ECI programs, were pretty easy to handle, as they all had individual programs. All I really have to do is check their work and tell them what to do next, helping out when they need it. Pretty straightforward. Science is also a bit of a problem, as we don't have a lab or a lot of equipment, and my science background is weak. I'm relearning a lot of this information as I'm teaching it to the students.

But this week, we started a new quarter, and the schedule was adjusted as a result. I'm now teaching four math classes, including two using a curriculum I'd not seen before, Math U See. I gather this program was originally developed with home schoolers in mind, but it works well with these students, as it doesn't approach things in the same way as traditional currricula. There is a lot more tactile and visual learning going on, which is a good thing for most math students, in my opinion. Furthermore, Math U See has many similarities to what I've been doing this whole time in my tutoring job, so I feel pretty confident with it. I no longer have the ECI science and writing classes, so now I just have the high school science and weightlifting classes in addition to math. So far this quarter is going much more smoothly, now that I'm settled in and know the students and routines much better. Not only that, I've cut back my evening tutoring to two nights a week, so I have some semblance of a normal teaching life, at least three nights a week, and my wife and I are able to watch Smallville as it's broadcast, not on tape over the weekend.

In general, despite the more challenging students and tutoring two nights a week (and Saturday mornings still, too), I'm feeling much more relaxed and comfortable with my life. Now, I can concentrate on school at work and the rest of my life at home. Come spring, I'll have to decide if I still want to get a "real" teaching job somewhere, and what Laura and I have to do to accomplish that, but that can wait. So I'll try to keep everyone posted as to what's going on, if there's much to say.

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