Thursday, August 14, 2014

Back-to-School Top 10

I haven't done this in like forever, so please cut me some slack on Mama Kat's Writing Prompt #4:
10 things you most look forward to when school starts.
Those of you who have checked this space with any semblance of regularity in the last six years (!) know that I reside - 10 months out every year, more or less - in Room 215. I teach high school Journalism and English. In fact, I just celebrated 20 years at my craft.

Contrary to popular belief, we teachers often look forward to the start of the new school year. So, here we go. When school starts (for me on the 25th; for the kiddos, September 2nd), I'm most looking forward to:

10. Rearranging the furniture. The custodial staff cleans every year, and puts things back just any which-a-way (see photo, above).
9. Pulling all the boxes out of storage. Teachers participate in the age-old (and largely silly) exercise of packing up their rooms every June and then unpacking again two months later. It is safe to say that I can probably pitch much of the junk I've squirreled away, but I most definitely must rummage through boxes before that determination can be made.
8. Putting away and throwing away all the detritus. See Number 9.
7. Visiting with some colleagues and avoiding others. This is what I call the Dance of the Passive-Aggressive Teachers. We, for the most part, are nice people. We dislike confronting those we dislike, so we largely steer clear. The DPAT is a skill honed over many years of the practice. Leave the newbies to socialize with the boors.
6. Taking a peek at my class lists, and then getting butts in those seats. When I started teaching in 1994, a high school English teacher could expect no more than five classes totalling 125 students. Over the years, budget cuts have inflated those numbers beyond the pale. For many years, I taught between 143 and 154 students spread over five classes. Last year, I juggled 177 students over five classes, including one class of 42, mostly freshmen. Yes, I lived to tell the tale, and am actually looking forward to the math working in my favor this year (fingers crossed!). And I can't wait to greet my returning journalistas and all the AP newbies I'll pick up.
5. Figuring out what/how I'm going to teach this year. I've been promised the following: One newspaper class; one yearbook class; two AP Lang classes, and one Journalism 1 (Intro to Journalism) class. No, I am not the cliché "educator," who teaches the same thing, the same way, year in and year out, à la Ben Stein in "Ferris Buehler's Day Off." I actually like to go back to what worked last year (and even in previous years) and often implement a few strategies that I haven't tried before. We'll see how that works out. It doesn't always.
4. Getting there ahead of the crowd. Our bookroom down in the English Wing is over-stuffed with a lot of beat-up textbooks and paperbacks. The trick that I've learned over the years? Get there at least a week early, estimate one's class sizes, grab the best of the inventory, and then return the overflow when the actual class numbers come out.
3. Going shopping. Yes, even when one is old and overweight, back-to-school outfits are pretty much a necessity.
2. Acquiring crucial office supplies. See #4, but substitute supply cabinet for bookroom. A high school English teacher can never have enough funky-colored felt-tip pens. Don't want to ruin our cherubs' self-esteem by grading in red, now, do we? I'm thinking hot pink might be en vogue this year.
1. Guestimating the effect of administrative changes, with both trepidation and a little bit of excitement. We will be governed this school year by our third (yes, you read that correctly) principal in four years. Principal Man, as you long-time readers might remember, was a gutless wonder. New Guy was essentially an undereducated fool. In fact, the highlight of his staff e-mail announcing his move to the Central Office (read here: "Promoted," so he could do no more harm) chatted enthusiastically about "excepting" a promotion. So, we're essentially expecting the worst, but hoping for the best.


Jenn @ You know... that Blog? said...

I was so happy to see your comment, even on the saddest post I've done in a very long time. I've missed you! Good luck with your back to school prep. Here's hoping you have a bumper crop of Journalistas this year!

Mama Kat said...

So good to see you back in Writer's Workshop this week! You're sure making me miss teaching. I totally agree, there's always a charge in the air during back to school time that I love.

B Nickerson said...

Welcome back. I thing my fav thing was the "new guy" principal "promoted" so he'll "do no more harm."
Not everyone is suited for management.

dkzody said...

Glad to know you are still in the trenches, doing your thing with the yearbook. What a killer job, but someone has to do it, and who better than someone as good as YOU.

I am not missing the return to the classroom. This is the 5th year I have not returned. Instead, on Monday, the first day of school in that big city district, my retired friends and I will go out to lunch and celebrate "Ladies Who Lunch."

Janet said...

What a fun read. Oh the fun of raiding the supply closet before others get the "good stuff". I taught middle school/high school English language arts for a few years before leaving to take care of aging parents. I eventually decided not to go back for various reasons, but posts like this from a person who is passionate about teaching make me miss it a little. Oh if only every teacher loved his/her job!


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