Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Notes on the First Day of School

Wow am I tired. And wow do my feet hurt. And so does my throat. I always forget how much you're on your feet when you teach and how much talking you do the first day. But I lived. And it actually went really pretty quickly. But holy moly am I tired.

First period was just about as bad as I was picturing it being: I ran out of space for students to sit and my poor but good spirited TA ended up sitting on the picnic blanket on the floor (I told you I wasn't kidding). But I even had one student at my teacher desk and five students on chairs. They were pretty good-natured about it but it was overwhelming.

Then my third period sophomore class is at 44, and I attempted to have them get up and move around in a Four Corner Debate, which worked *mostly* but oh my god, it's like when you're trying to pack a suitcase: when you first pack it before you leave, you can get everything to fit with room to spare when you pack it neatly, with everything folded and rolled, but when you've used and worn things and decide to just throw everything back in the suitcase willy-nilly, NOTHING fits. It's like that with students in a classroom, too: sitting in their desks, 44 fit fine, but trying to stand in groups in the four corners of my classroom was like being in the mosh pit at a concert. I had to climb onto the top of a desk to get above the fray because otherwise I end up having a giant panic attack.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful as things go: the kids are unsure about me, and I'm crazy, so they spend a lot of the period looking at me like I'm from outerspace, come to steal their binder paper, but I think I have a good group. Lots of girls in APEL and lots of boys in sophomore English. It's weird.

It's weird seeing so much of campus empty, though. There are empty classrooms gathering dust. One of the science teachers today, after school, was saying that there is an entire ROW of science classrooms empty, with equipment just moldering in it. And though our school population is smaller, it's not THAT much smaller. Classes are bigger and thus you need fewer teachers. Ideally, there would be teachers in those classrooms with classes of 28-30. And the staff is dinky now, too -- there used to be over 100 teachers, possibly closer to 120, and I think now we're down in the 70s or 80s (I could be COMPLETELY wrong about this, but for perspective: when I first started to work at my school, there were nearly 30 English teachers. We filled up the department chair's classroom. Now there are 12 of us. That's it. 12. With not really THAT many fewer students spread out between us.

So at this point, I should probably plow into the summer assignments I collected today. I guess the silver lining is that even though my classes are PACKED to the gills, I still actually have fewer APEL students total than I did last year, so that's nice. I think I've got 90? Last year I had 115 or so. Yay. I think?

The other silver lining: some of our buildings were without air conditioning today (and our classrooms are essentially designed for AC ... there are no functioning/opening windows in any classroom that I can think of) but mine was not one of them. So there was that...

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