Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Day Two!

First off, today was a little bit easier than yesterday. I knew where I was going, for the most part, and who I would be dealing with. Needless to say it was still a "first day" of sorts, but that is what made it all the more fun. I arrived at school a little early today to start writing some e-mails and getting some work done that could not get completed last night here at the apartments. Then from there I spent the morning planning for class and meeting with my teachers. AHS is on a variable schedule, meaning that their electives (most Junior and Senior level courses - my American and British literature courses) only meet on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This means that the schedule is a little more wide open on Tuesday and Thursday due to a lighter work load, since I only have two classes that day - my 9th and 10th graders. Also, since their classes are required they do meet all five days out of the week. One other attractive feature of the variable schedule is that it allows students with labs to meet on Tuesday or Thursday for an extended amount of time and for a film class to watch a full movie through the use of two consecutive periods and not just one. On my side of the ball that just means more time to get work done in the office, meet with students, and get ready for class. All my students are required to meet with me throughout their extensive projects (the 9th graders start a 5-6 week paper tomorrow) multiple times throughout a unit so AHS uses the time on Tuesday and Thursday for those teacher-student meetings, along with other free periods throughout the daily schedule.

Needless to say I spent most of the period planning for my two periods today, my 10th and 9th graders. Kristin once again taught the 10th graders, but shifted a portion over to me as I read them some memoirs and got them excited about me taking over in a few weeks. I will start teaching mini lessons starting next week and then fully take over in about two weeks. So it was great to connect to them, challenge them, and begin to learn their names.

My 9th graders were a whole new ball of wax today. Yesterday I blogged about how crazy they were, today they were a little bit more mellow. We reviewed class expectations, looked through the A, B, and C grading rubric, and visited the No D policy (my cooperating teacher, Anne, is doing a Master's level research project on the effects of having a No D policy. Students are required to re-do any work they want to get a higher grade on any assignment that falls into the D category. Even if it does not fall into the D category, students may still redo work and improve it and I still grade them. There really is no penalty for late work either, we are just looking for quality work whenever they turn it in. This is quite an adjustment for me, and one that only takes place in English 9). After that we did this activity where I shared with them my thoughts on teaching the class and made sure that they knew I was there for them, enjoyed being in their class, and let them know that class ought to be fun. The whole point for these students, and really any students that we teach at AHS, is for them to go change the world. Yes, at first it sounds a little cheesy, your 9th graders are going to go change the world, but no they really are going to. That is the challenge ever 59 minutes that I am in that period, in that classroom, I want to change them, challenge them, and encourage them to go out and change the world into a better place. So today we did this activity from The Last Lecture called "The Crayon Activity." I had each of the students take a crayon and then put their heads down and contemplate life as a child, when it was simpler, and when they had childish dreams. I encouraged them that even now, they are 9th graders, that they can still accomplish those dreams. Don't let anyone stop you and continue to push forward. Anne, my cooperating teacher was pretty impressed I guess. I think I even inspired her. The highlight was when she told me one of the lines I told the students - "When we stop dreaming, we stop changing the world." It was another good day of teaching 9th graders. Tomorrow I get to challenge them to actually put their words where their mouths are and really start to change the world with their position paper.

One other exciting thing about today was that I got inundated into the women's soccer program. That's right, it appears that AHS and all time amazing women's soccer coach, Kirk Bast, was looking for a goalie coach. Then I walked into his office and the problem was solved. Amazing how God works things out, right? So he informed me that we had a pre-season meeting after school today and that we would go from there. So I went to the meeting, met the girls, and apparently they have a pretty amazing team (one of the best in the state of Colorado, much less apparently the best overall women's soccer program in the state) except their goalie needs to be a little more vocal within her box and take care of herself. I told him we can work on that and she will get better, she doesn't have a choice because Coach Ruggles is on the job! So this will be a new adventure. I met with the varsity team this afternoon and then tomorrow will be with the whole program, and then pre-season workouts start tomorrow at 2:45. Here we go, the life of a coach, teacher, student, and member of the Denver area all at once. I thought this would be an easy semester, or at least easier than being at Wartburg, but I was wrong. I keep adding things, but these are meaningful things that I can't wait to start. Well here goes trying to balancing everything. Thanks for reading! Off to class for Wartburg West and then more lesson planning - have a good night!