Friday, October 29, 2010

What's the Difference?

Lately, a lot of people have been asking me what the differences are between teaching 8th graders and teaching 10th graders. What was my answer at the beginning of the year? "Not much." Truly, it wasn't much, especially with my boys in class. However, I do admit that as time has passed, they are coming around. I like high school kids. They are fun, they engage in a lot of the work and see relevance in it, they take more risks, are dependable, and they try hard. I can talk to them like adults and many of them are working through some adult problems.

Others have asked me what the differences are between my new school and my old school.

1. I am a different kind of tired when I come home from my new school. I am learning a lot of new content, teaching differently than I have in the past (which I am not a complete fan of at this feels too traditional for me in some respects), and have to be prepared for questions that I will have to answer that I might not know the complete answer to.

2. 98% of my students turn in work on time. That means I have a LOT of paperwork to grade CONSTANTLY. I am going to spend my entire Master's free weekend grading a shit ton of papers. This has been overwhelming and even though I had many kids who turned in papers in the past, these are more sophisticated and take careful thought on my end when I provide effective feedback. The class that is turning in the least amount? LEADERSHIP....the older kids are blowing off their elective a little bit. This is the case across the board in most afternoon electives. When they see their grades next week, some of them are going to freak. But I won't. They have had time to do this and they chose to waste time in class.

3. I have many more BOYS than I do girls. This does matter in my 3/4 block b/c man they can get wound up and loud fast. Girls chill out the boys. A few girls and a lot of boys=the boys all vying for attention.

4. Boys tend to be weaker writers than the girls. They struggle with explaining, justifying, analyzing and sometimes synthesizing. They want to write one-sentence answers and call it good and then don't understand why they don't earn full points. However, I do have some amazing male writers who do turn in better papers than some of the girls.

5. 96% of the kids care about their grades and care about doing well.

6. 98% of the parents care too. And I receive multiple emails a day inquiring about behaviors, improvements, work they need, kids who are sick, make-up work, grade questions, homework, and more. Man, these parents are ON IT. They get it and it's nice to have this much involvement, but it also can be overwhelming at the same time b/c we have so many other responsibilities too. Some parents are patient, while others are ruthless about wanting an email back from me right away. I guess they don't think I work w/ kids during the day at all...

7. I felt our Professional Learning Community was much more developed at my old school. At this one, it's like pulling teeth to get people to try something or work together collaboratively. :( It's kinda sad. And soon enough, I won't be able to keep my mouth shut about it.

8. There is less support for our struggling students...this is b/c we are a small school with limited funds.

9. I'm not coaching. I'm not coaching. I'm not coaching. I miss this...I do, but not as much as I thought I would.

10. ASB: it is a big time suck. And it has been full of drama already this year and is guaranteed to have more drama as the year progresses. Regardless, it is fun and I do have a good group. It is hard to get everyone together sometimes w/ all of their job schedules and outside of school responsibilities. I do like it though, and feel like I am "in the know" about what's going on regarding activities at school. I feel like people appreciate all that I do even though a couple of older teachers are total schmucks and are fun-haters.

11. I came from a school where I developed a lot of ideas for my classroom and my kids. I had samples, I knew how to get kids to the level I needed them to work at in order to produce that final piece well. I knew how to scaffold and give them the right steps to take. I gave them the tools to build their "product."

I went to a place where I did not develop anything until I started meeting with my partner. The curriculum work I did was great and we used it. However, I don't feel like I have as much flexibility or time to teach it the way I want to. I feel like I have to abandon some of what I want to do in order to meet the same deadlines as my partner, which I don't like. I am not good at sticking to a calendar. If my kids need an extra day to learn a new skill or practice a strategy for another day, I want to give them that extra practice. But apparently at the new school, there isn't much flexibility in our calendar right now. I do feel a little constrained b/c of that. I also feel like I am going into a lot of the content blind. I have asked to see several samples of the work the kids are doing (final drafts, etc.) and apparently, my partner doesn't keep any of that stuff. The kids are all complaining how they don't know how to do a project but part of that is because none of us know what it should look like or sound like. Best teaching practices prove that using mentor texts, teacher texts, and samples can help students produce higher quality work. Um Yeah. That is why I always saved my best samples and some of the worst so kids could see the difference and recognize the quality I was looking for in a project. So that has been a bit hard too. But I am trying my best to stick with what is given to me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always thought you should try to make your students think you knew an answer to their questions, but one time I just said "I really don't know, but as soon as I have a chance, I'll find out." Later, one of the kids said, "That was the neatest thing a teacher has ever done! It sure showed that she was human! and they all seemed to love me for that ! G'ma