“poking the box”Posted: October 10, 2011
Friday was a terrible day at school. I went home feeling completely out of place as a professional. I also had a very challenging day with some very challenging 8th graders. I attempted lots of parent contact over the weekend, but none was successful. It’s never a good feeling to leave your school feeling defeated, but to have it linger over the weekend is especially difficult.
Added to the hullabaloo is a new experiement that I’ve found myself in the middle of. A colleague approached me about two weeks ago with the idea to combine my social studies class with her science class for targeted review sessions. On our A/B block schedule, she and I have the exact same students, just on opposite days. I told her I loved the idea, especially for test review, and to let me know when her plans allowed for it. Last week she announced that she thought it could work full time, permanently, and that we should begin moving my things into her double-sized science classroom immediately. I was a little taken aback, and tried to ask questions without sounding pessamistic. We finally nailed down the details, and decided on a schedule that has me teaching social studies to 40 students each period on Mondays and Tuesdays, while she teaches science on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Fridays are used as “hybrid” days when we can do targeted review, small-group seminars, games, labs, etc.
This was and still is a little overwhelming to me, but in a good way. I was paranoid at first – I thought others at the school were ganging up on me because they thought I wasn’t doing a good job. I was assured that was not the case. I got an email over the weekend informing me that my desks had been moved into her classroom, which will now be my operating base – that loss of a central location has me feeling a little unsettled, but I’m adjusting.
We’re also learning each other’s teaching styles. She is much more rigid than I am. Most teachers are much more rigid than I am. She will frequently interrupt me to correct student behavior, even when I show no signs of being bothered. She likes to control chatter and movement. I just want to get us there. I enjoy laid-back discussions and the opportunity to ask questions or even joke about the material, as long as it relates to our topic. Her class is much more formal. By learning these things about each other, we were able to set a common set of expectations for our students that will benefit them the most.
Our hope is that content will be taught in greater dept and at a faster pace than the A/B block schedule was allowing, and that discipline and behavioral problems are minimized. More to come…