September 5, 2006

Slogging Along

These early days of the school year seem to move so slowly as we gear up for the real excitement. Students get used to sitting in my classroom, and I try to learn their names and personality quirks. It just seems to take FOREVER!

Today has been particularly long, and why I'm still awake, I cannot explain.

I endured a full day of no air conditioning in my classroom. The majority of the teachers and their students endured the same. I don't know how hot it was today, but it was no cooler than 100 degrees for sure. Some teachers were conducting class outside in the shady areas because it was slightly cooler outside and there was a little breeze. Crossing my fingers and toes that tomorrow it is nice and cool when I walk in the door. Just in case it's not, I'll be dressing down.

Needless to say, I didn't accomplish much work during my prep times as I was seeking pockets of campus with air conditioning.

Tonight I met with my night school students for the first time. It is a huge class, and try as I did to scare a few of them away, they didn't budge. It's not like I wouldn't love to teach them all, but what I find is that the numbers tend to thin as students just quit showing up until they are dropped. It's exhausting trying to track all these in-and-out students, and there have been times when one night I would have a group of students, but then the next night there would be a different mix of students--like the students tag-teamed taking days off. I'm not teach a drop-in program, yo!

So, mostly what I do is make it very clear how work intensive it us. Luckily I had several students from last year who could confirm that although there is a lot of work that it is pretty tough to fail unless you just stop coming or refuse to do any work. And considering that the class doesn't even start until 8:00pm, those students who sit and do nothing eventually just stop showing up. See how that works? Show up and learn something--and earn some credits. Give and stop coming--try to get your credits in another class. It's all about how determination.

Last year I did have an oddity of a student. He came every single night but would not do any work. If I sat with him and gave him undivided attention, he might do half. (He did have an IEP and language acquisition problems, so I went the extra mile to accomodate him.) He ended up failing two quarters and I asked to have him removed since he was just wasting his time. It's too bad for him because I did have a lot of patience. What I didn't have was a little student cooperation.

Based on tonight's class, I think I have a couple who won't make it, and a couple who are going to push my buttons all the time. I had them write a letter to me, and I was pleased with the quantity of writing they did. At least they aren't afraid to put the pencil to the paper. I'll look at the quality later this week and plan for them. Half the class needs help passing the state writing proficiency, while the other half has already passed it. Isn't that just a typical classroom variety?

A few students became very excited when I told them I was actually going to read their letters because I would help them with whatever their issues happened to be. Most of it is whole class instruction, but I usually do have time to work one-on-one with students. One girl in particular told me she wants to know more about pronouns. Uhm, huh? So I asked her if she just wanted to know how to identify them, and she said that was part of it. She has just always been confused by them. Now, I know indefinite pronouns can be troublesome, but I am curious as to what exactly her issues are. Sometimes students get hung up on problems they had in elementary school...I mean, when it comes to learning the parts of speech at the high school level, particulary in a writing class, it's all about the application.

So, I'm off to first class starts at 7:00 am. Wouldn't that be something if I were sleep deprived and sweating like crazy when I greet them? Let's hope not. We have more slow-mo work of getting this year cranked into action.

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