Friday, August 10, 2007

Back to (a brand new) School

Well, brand new to me, that is.

I'm in the process of beginning a new teaching job at the Christian Academy of Louisville. I'll be teaching 8th grade Literature and Language Arts (these two classes are my only preps, though I have three sections of each class in the course of a day).This school is a change for me in many ways. My previous teaching job was at a classical Christian school, and while CAL is Christian, it's not classical. Right now I'm just concerned with following the curriculum maps (I'm quite thankful for them), but it will be interesting to see how I might be able to incorporate some broader principles as soon as I find my footing. I think many of those broader principles will correspond to standards already in place, such as Bloom's taxonomy. A second difference is size. I grew up attending small-ish Christian schools -- my senior class had 27, which was a large class (our school had about 250 students, K-12). And the school I'd taught at for the last four years (Ad Fontes Academy) was small as well. Christian Academy is a system of four schools in the Louisville area. The campus I'm assigned to is the largest, with approximately 1,500 students, K-12. Each of my classes will have 21-22 students. Because I have the same students for a literature class and for a language arts class (I have each set of students for two periods in a row), I end up with about 65 students, which is actually a fairly small number compared to other teachers who have either more preps or more sections.

Another key change is my classroom. Meaning, that I have one. All to myself. I've never really had that before. For the last four years, because of available classroom space, I've moved from room to room to teach my various classes. And because we rented space from local churches, I've taken my needed teaching resources with me to and from school nearly every day. It didn't necessarily impair my teaching -- I think you can get a great education with just a teacher, a student, and a book -- but it did get tiring at times. Now I'm a good ways closer to the opposite end of the spectrum. Here's your classroom with 23 desks, two student computers, your own desk, filing cabinet, computer, two windows, various cabinets, counter space, drawers, bookshelves, overhead projector, and bulletin boards. By the way, feel free to decorate however you'd like.

Decorate. Yikes. I've never realized how tiring it can be to decorate a classroom. Maybe that's because I've never done it before. Today was the first day (after a full week of teacher training, with lots of time in our rooms) that I left the room feeling that things were in order. That the walls didn't look too bare. That my desk area is starting to look like I have a personality. It wore me out. Don't get me wrong. I am so excited to have my own room. I loved walking out of my classroom today carrying one small bag because I could leave everything else in the room. But, my word, that room consumed a lot of my mental power this week!

I have a few more days of preparation before classes begin on Wednesday. I'm quite excited, a little nervous, but grateful that right next door there's an experienced 8th grade English teacher who's been at this school for a long time and who's willing to share any and every resource, lesson plan, quiz, test that she has. I'm also so grateful for my previous four years of teaching experience -- the fact that I feel busy but not overwhelmed is due to those four years at a small school where I saw daily that the only thing you really need for a good education is a teacher, a student, and a book.



Blogger Christa said...

So... would you like a "bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils" to help decorate? ;) I'm glad to hear you are getting settled and aren't feeling too overwhelmed. I wish I could say the same. I should probably email the details, but the short version is that I still don't know what I'll be doing during this school year. I could be working in the library! I really do hope to find out something this week--before we go back for in-service!
Well, best wishes for the new year. I'll be praying for you.

1:33 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

AHH!!! Don't leave us!!!

I can't believe your school starts so early! And I'm a little jealous about the desk. Do you have a nice mug on it and a some good tea things tucked away? I would expect no less of you. You have inspired me to buy a special school tea mug, which I will purchase from Wegmans. Because that's the Andrea way to do things!

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Ceste said...

Know exactly the feeling. I taught for 1 yr at a school w/ no classroom. Then moved to a larger school w/ 2 music rooms to decorate. Then my last yr there I upgraded to having my own classroom. It has its +'s & -'s. Mostly I missed the community of seeing the other teachers in the halls. This yr I'll be teaching @ a tiny school in Herndon, VA & they rent from a church. Not sure if I'll be decorating or not, since my room is also the church's music room. But we shall see. And 63 students, lucky you! My 1st yr I had 300, 2nd yr I had 300, 3rd yr I had 329, & this yr, I think it'll be around 100. You can do it! My students would always get a kick out of me learning their names. Each day I'd have them say their names & their fav ice cream, color, vacation, pizza etc. And then about early October, I'd begin each class w/ saying every name. I also had them sit in different areas each day, so I couldn't memorize where they were sitting. And the older kids got a kick out of me asking them to mix up their order after I'd gotten their names. By December of every yr, I'd be at about 95% w/ all the names.

1:35 AM  

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