Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 15 2010

Planning for the new year

So I have been FINALLY placed! In order to keep anonymity for my students, I will not tell you where, but it is a High School in Southeast D.C.  You could definitely say that this school is where I am most needed.  I will be teaching Chemistry (10th and 11th graders!) and I will be the ONLY Chemistry teacher.  AH scary!  But there are only 160ish 11th graders, so its about as many students as I would have at a larger school with more teachers anyway.  This week I have PD 8-430 with my school and then 6-9 pm I will be planning my year with TFA.  Luckily, our PDs gave us a long-term plan for our subject areas to be able to use or adjust as necessary. The Chemistry one is from a school with block scheduling (which mine does too) and very well aligned to DCPS standards. Yay yay yay! However, my school has been taken over by a local charter school (due to poor performance and not making AYP a few years in a row) and they have a curriculum that we need to be following that supposedly aligns to DCPS standards as well.  I have asked for said curriculum and hope I receive it by this week!  One of the principals at my school casually mentioned me teaching AP Chemistry in the Spring in an email.  AP Chemistry?  I’m not at this point certified for AP and I had no idea I’d be teaching two courses this year.. not sure how that really works, but at least it is in the Spring!  I’m excited to only technically have one prep (not be teaching more than one class in the fall) because that will drastically reduce my workload, or really, 2 preps would drastically INCREASE my workload.   I’ve been reading up on classroom management from my good friend Harry Wong, and the DCPS new teacher training had some workshops as well.  I’ve come up with simple rules, and am planning on having a group discussion about the rules on the first day of class.  However, I think I may take this approach.  “What type of classroom do you learn best in?  What are the students like? What is the teacher like?”  *I will record the answers on chart paper or on the board, and will have another piece of chart paper on the board to write our rules as we go along.  However, the rules will already be planned out for me, but I will guide the discussion so that we touch on things that encompass these simple rules.  I’m thinking about using P’s: Be punctual, Be prepared, Be polite, Be productive.  So example, student says, I like when the teacher is in control of the classroom and we can get things done.  So I will say something like, okay, so you like to work in classroom.  That’s really being productive right? Working hard? I have read many places that that if you let the students take ownership of the rules they will be more invested.  This is also a great way to get my students talking as a class on the first day of school.  I have thought over some procedures too.   Since my students are older, I want to make the classroom run as self-sufficiently as possible.  They need to learn to follow procedures, be organized and productive for themselves later in life.  I am going to have teams of 4 students– these will be colleges.  Each student’s desk will have a number on it.  So example, Georgetown 1, Georgetown 2, Georgetown 3, Georgetown 4.  This will promote the theme of college, which I plan on doing heavily, as well as give me numbers and colleges for the students to use for projects, activities, etc.  Every week one student in the group 0f 4 will be the president of the college (or dean of admissions?) and they will be in charge for the week for going to the classroom mailbox (a black crate or box from staples with file folders in it) and getting the folders for the college.  In the folder will be graded assignments for the four students in the group, as well as the handouts for the day.  This will let students hand back their own assignments and will eliminate me handing out the handouts for the day as well.  Also, upon entering students will sign-in to the class (for attendance) and drop their assignments in my homework “inbox.”  I love procedures! :)  More to come once I find out rules for using the bathroom, etc. in the school.  So anyway, I am excited, but there is much to be done before school next Monday!  Ah!

P.S. On a personal note, I went out in Dupont Circle with friends for my Birthday and I had a blast.  Also, I have gotten such presents as money, a pashmina scarf (thanks jordan!), a crockpot (yay! my other one broke), and WII FIT (thanks boyfriend! :) )

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    a blog about my quest to end the inequity of science education in America

    D.C. Region
    High School

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