Am I ready? Eh...I have today. I hope. My children came back last night after a three-week stay at their grandparent's house. It kind of depends on how needy they are, but before they left we did the mad dash to get ready for school. There might a few things on their lists that I didn't get, but at this point, it would be something for the classroom and not them personally, and it can wait. My main mommy priority is feeding them, as without them here, my husband and I scrimped along with whatever food was in the house, with mini grocery store trips to supplement. So, with the pressing need of lesson plans to finish, I've need to plan a grocery trip. Man, it's back to the same old life. Bleah. It's Sunday morning, I just want to sit with a cup of coffee and watch the news. I miss you, summer vacation!
At least my classroom is ready. I set up the boards before I left on Friday. I might need to adjust the desks a little bit because they are a bit too close to the front where I'll be standing for the first few days. I don't need any materials for the first few days, so no slaving over a hot copier for me today. In fact, unlike some of my colleagues, I won't even be setting foot inside the school today. It's open if we need it (we don't have access to the school on weekends), but, no thank you! Yeah for me.
Except...I still have lesson plans to write. I can tell you that they aren't so different from last year, but now we have this Curriculum Engine thing where I have to post my lesson plans. So, no just changing the date from last year's for me today. I'm sure there will be some cutting and pasting, though. And digging through the new Core Standards to find the ones that match.
The first order of the day in my English classes it address the question, "What is English?" (From Jeffrey Golub's book.) I have been asking this on the first day of class since the beginning of time. (Okay, maybe not that long. It's only my 15th year.) And look, we can get started right away on using some standards!
SL.8.1 - Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Is everybody happy now? Haha! Letting my slip show. Sorry. Perhaps later I'll blog later about how teaching with the new Core Standards has transformed my life after all.
Things are a little more dicey with my publications class. It's really big this year, with half of them--super dynamic and energetic kids--returning from last year. I spent the first week team-building with them, and toward the end of last year, I was seeing that we needed a refresher on working as a team. We did a lot of group projects and planning, so it wasn't like we didn't revisit the team concept after the first week, but... Maybe it was more like we were a family who needed a vacation from each other! I'm changing so many things about the coursework this year, but honestly, I haven't worked out the kinks on a few things. That's what I'm really nervous about.
And then with my high school students, I usually get them writing first thing, especially my proficiency students because we still start filling in their gaps on Tuesday. The nice thing about those prof kids, is that they are anxious to get help to pass their proficiencies, as many of them hope to graduate after the first semester. However, as writers, their confidence is low, so I have to build them up on what they can do, too. My creative writing students will be much the same. Unlike students in creative writing classes at other schools, my students don't necessarily like writing. They need a credit. However, I noticed that there is another section of English taught at the same time, so many I will have more students who enjoy writing. My classes are typically really small, and students have to share so much of themselves with each other, so community building is really important in these classes, too! Ugh. So much to think about!
I don't know why I worry and ponder about the first week. As mentioned, I have a pretty good system down that I use year after year, but I really hate the first few weeks. A good start is critical for a successful year. Any missteps, and it's miserable repairing the "damage." Again, I ready to get past these few weeks and get into the groove.