although we will not have students until next Monday, except for the new 9th graders who will come in to practice getting to their bus stops and walking their schedule through our sprawling and sometimes confusing physical layout.
Normally we would have been back yesterday, but it was a furlough day, one of four still on the schedule, to try to save jobs.
This year, for the first time, we can actually see our student lists already - which are not final, because we have some new students whose parents will not even enroll them until after Labor Day.
My three non-AP classes have 21, 28 and 28 respectively, for a total of 77. These numbers, except for the 1st (special program) will go up.
My three AP classes have 37, 37, and 38 (I can only fit 38 student desks in my room) for a total of 122. Unless we get a transfer who was enrolled in AP elsewhere, I will not get more.
I have 189 young people for whose learning I bear some responsibility.
There are a number who are siblings of former students - they will have some idea what to expect from me, and so will there parents.
There is at least one offspring from a fellow faculty member, as it happens the man who took over when I had to give up coaching boys JV soccer for the 2008 season.
I have one pair of twins, in different classes. I have a brother sister combination in the same class, born a year apart but both 10th graders - it is probable they are from an immigrant family and the parents put them in the same grade when they started American school - that has happened before.
Today we will have our organizational meeting, and we will have a department meeting. I will then have the afternoon to work on my room. I usually need two full days to set it up. Fortunately I did not bring much stuff home in the Spring, and what I did is already in my car.
I am looking forward to the year in some ways, carrying some anxiety in others. I have never had that many AP students, and it will become difficult to turn their written work around overnight, which is my commitment to them. I don't like class sizes that large, because it means some kids can hide from class discussions. I would have preferred 4 sections of more manageable size, but then the 28 from one of my non-AP classes would have been distributed among four other teachers, which would increase some of their classes. All my students must in May sit for a state exam - the AP kids never have any trouble, but there will be some in those three regular classes who may struggle with it, which is why we try to keep those classes smaller.
As for AP, I am reluctant to deny a student willing to do the work the opportunity to take the course. So I do not cap my classes at the normal max of 32 or so for an AP, but allow my room to be scheduled up to the number of seats, which is why two classes of 38.
I feel a responsibility to be exceedingly thoughtful about how I do my teaching this year. My award last Spring means there will be a lot of focus on me. The superintendent plans to visit my classes, possibly next Tuesday. I am also a key person for our being reaccredited by Middle States, which means I will have additional outside observers then.
This teacher prep week is always strange - I am back in school, but it does not feel real until the students arrive. There is so much to be done
... make sure I have enough books
... copying handouts I will use the first week
... setting up the room - putting things on walls
... establishing seating charts (so I can learn all the names before the end of the 2nd week)
... going through mandatory training for
.... blood borne pathogens
.... sexual harrassment
... possibly making contact with those I will be mentoring for National Board - they are not likely to be in my building
... submitting 3 sets of emergency lesson plans (have used 1 in 11 years in bldg)
... updating and submitting my professional goals for the year
... filling out mandatory school and district paper work
... setting out lesson plans for first couple of weeks
I cannot lay out my schedule until they give us the dates of mandatory assemblies at the beginning of the year: these are required to review the student code of conduct, which is necessary if we are going to hold them to it. I need to know what periods, primarily for 10th graders since most of my students are sophomores, to see what if anything that does to my scheduling - if at all possible I need to keep each of the three classes in the same course at the same place.
This week is also a chance to do some reflection that somehow I cannot do until I am physically in my room. It just feels different.
This week I may have SOME time for other things. I'd better - I still have work to do on the house and yard.
Next week? Once I have my students, I begin to call all my parents. That will eat up most of my "free" time until I can get through it.
I still have books to review, for here and elsewhere. As a result of my diary yesterday, another author is sending me a book he'd like me to read and then decide if I want to write about. Also as a result of yesterday, I may have an opportunity to edit a book - we'll see.
But those, even as they interest me - as does the possibility of writing my own work - are less important.
Today I return to school.
Today I begin the necessary preparation to do the work which consumes me.
Today I begin yet again the process of preparing to teach.
I am a teacher. I wear that title proudly. I am honored to be in the company of those who are teachers. There is no more important work that I could be doing.
I have always wanted my life to make a difference.
I am a teacher. If I live up to the meaning of those words, I will be making a difference.