Monday, January 5, 2009

First Day at AHS!

Wow, what a whirlwind of a first day. It started out at the crack of dawn, or just before it, when I woke up at 5:00 am to get moving towards the shower. From there it was a good breakfast and then grabbing all the stuff and rushing off to the car around 6:15 am. Then the drive started, off for about 30 minutes south to the great school of AHS.

When I first arrived there I noticed all the nice looking vehicles that students were being dropped off in, no mini vans (but this could also be a sign of the location). Anyway, my cooperating teacher Anne met me at the door and we went straight into the front office. From there I proceeded to meet the principal, a bunch of other administration, including Mary Gottlieb (who is responsible for me being at AHS in the first place). Then from there we went and got me a parking pass and met some counselors and other administration members. From there we proceeded off to the English department and met a whole bunch of more people, all teachers from the department, and then finally I was shown to my desk. What a nice little location in the middle of the department. Anne then took me on a nice tour of the building, which really is not that big compared to how many students actually attend the high school. Then I spent the first period planning and preparing for the first day of school. Second period I went to Anne's advanced 9th grade class and saw how she teaches for the first time. That was really interesting and refreshing at the same time. These are students that are clearly above the curve. In fact, they are the only students in the entire world that are blogging and video chatting with the author of A Whole New Mind, Dan Pink, next week. It should be an interesting time being a part of this class, but never really teaching it or taking over any of it. From there I got to meet my 10 grade students from Kristin's class. These students were so much fun to be around and Kristin does an awesome job with them. They were so much fun and it will be really fun helping them to write their own memoirs starting tomorrow. Fourth period consisted of going to Anne's American Literature course, which is all seniors. Their maturity level brought me right back to where I was as a senior in high school - except for the Coach purses of course. Anne is doing a really cool thing with them, making sure they stay involved in the year and the second semester (because we all know how we were as second semester seniors) by having them all create their own AHS "Last Lecture," based on the bestselling book The Last Lecture (which I highly recommend if you haven't read it yet). This class will be a whole new ball of wax to take over come four weeks and they will definitely be a well deserved challenge.

Then lunch (it just felt right to separate the paragraph right there). I got the privilege to meet the rest of the English department, which was nice - of which I honestly don't remember half of their names, but that will come in time. From there I went to Kristin's American Literature course, which is all juniors. This class is not in a laptop classroom, which is a little different, but it will be a nice experience to have overall. We are going to be doing some creative writing in here for the first two weeks and then diving into the Narrative of Frederick Douglass, which should be an awesome adventure teaching. Then the big moment of the day arrived - 1:21 pm - 6th period - my 9th graders.

So first of all, I must admit that I got lost going to their classroom, which made me just a little late but it ended up being ok in the end as it just heightened the anticipation. Then as I am approaching the room I notice these 9th graders pointing and looking at me, all in a good way of course. Then I walk into the room and they start clapping and shouting out my name, like completely excited to see me. Then all the guys came up and introduced themselves to me and even some of the girls and it was like totally awesome. They were excited to see me, excited to learn, and excited to have a good time. From there I showed an Animoto video (which I might link too later if I have time) and then started class. I had an activity prepared that allowed me to share some of who I was with them (stuff like my hometown, school, work, travel, favorites, etc.), but in a cool and creative way. Then I gave them an assignment that will allow me to get to know them better. They were loud at times and had some inside jokes, but what else do you expect from 9th graders. Overall, they were just awesome kids and it was a privilege to teach them today - and the best part is that I get to go back tomorrow. After class I walked through the period with Anne and we talked about a few different things (oh and before I forget I mentioned to the students that the Minnesota Wild, the hockey team, beat the Colorado Avalanche last night 2-0 - let's just say I didn't make any friends that way, but now we have something in common, they just say "Playoffs last year" - where if you don't know Colorado beat MN bad in a seven game series. In a kind and loving way I just told them that "this year is a new year") and then Anne and I planned out the next four weeks or so of the semester, which is really nice except now I have to come up with the lesson plans and get everything set to go for tomorrow and the rest of the week. All in all though, the highlight of my day (besides the principal coming and talking to me at the end of the first day) was when Anne told me that a student sitting next to her commented to her during the lesson - "Where did you get this guy, I like him." That just about did it for me, I'm hooked, sign me up to a life of teaching. I was comfortable with these students and I really felt like I could connect with them on a more personal level. It was a great day in my book. Anne said the students were engaged, ready to go, and really enjoyed the lesson. Tonight they are blogging on their personal blogs and I'll read the results in the morning.

It was a great first day, except now I'm tired and want to go sleep, but teaching today makes it all worth it. What a first day!