Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Favorite Class (II)

Let me tell you about 8th period.

They're my favorite class.

Eighth period is scheduled differently at our school. Period 1-6 meet on a block schedule. 80 minutes twice a week and 45 minutes on Fridays. The last two classes, 7th and 8th periods, meet M-Th for 50 minutes and 45 minutes on Fridays. Do the math, and right away, you see that 8th period gets an advantage. I see them for 245 minutes per week, whereas I see my other classes for 205 minutes.

It may not seem like 40 minutes a week would make much difference. It does. Eighth period is the class that actually gets time in class to work on the homework. They get more time to ask questions. We cover less per day, but we cover it better. I'm not a huge fan of block scheduling, and I'm REALLY not a fan of the last 20 minutes in a block class.

Here's the real difference in this class, though.

Eighth period only has 14 students.

My other classes are in the 20-25 range and I know that's nothing to my colleagues who regularly see 30-36 in a class, but 14? That's practically private tutoring! We can have class discussions without resorting to "holding the speaking stick" and "lab groups" tend to be a little more free-form since there's more than enough equipment to go around.

This is teaching at its best. Time, space and resources in abundance.

And here's the kicker, for anyone who thinks these things don't matter.

EVERY student in 8th period is passing the class. I can't say that about any other class period.

Eighth period. That's my favorite class.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Favorite Class

Welcome back. The status chart tells me that I have "followers". To my followers, my apologies. What can I say? I've been busy.

The second year of teaching. It's night and day different from the first. It's better, no question. I know what's coming, sometimes. I have lesson plans, and even when the lesson plans are sketchy, I have ideas. Things I can fall back on when things get hectic.

I'm no longer "The new teacher". Students and parents both appreciate that, but then, last year I tried desperately to downplay "the new teacher" role, so there were plenty who never knew. This year, I have no excuses.

And with experience comes...commitment. Without trying, I find myself on 2 committees, coaching an academic event team and co-sponsoring an organization. I just THOUGHT my Saturdays were going to be mine after my own classwork was over...

As a parent, I've considered the question "Which child do you love the most?". Of course, there's no answer, but I do like the quote I picked up somewhere..."I love the child most who needs me the most". It changes from year to year. Sometimes, from day to day.

And so it is with my classes. Which one is my favorite?


Let me tell you about 3rd Period.

They're my favorite class.

They're easy to love. That's the "Honors" class. It's filled to the rafters (next year, can there PLEASE be two sections of Honors?) with the brightest and most motivated. They love a challenge, they want to succeed. They do the homework, they study for exams. Many of their parents have contacted me during the year, and then, satisfied that I'm at least minimally competent, have sat back to enjoy the ride with me, with their children, with my students.

There are 5 girls in 3rd period. And 20 boys. How did that happen? Despite the gender disparity, we survive. We laugh a lot, and I roll my eyes some days when the silliness gets out of control and they know I love them anyway.

They read the textbook, they read the assignments, they read the instructions, and when they question me, it's because they truly want to understand.

They're easy to love. With them, I am an education genius, I am a success. I make them look good, and they make me look good.

It would be easy to say that they are my favorite class.