As I mentioned in the district wide meeting on Opening Day, I am teaching a single class this year. It's a ninth grade English class, and after a little more than a month, I'm loving it.
I made the following post to my personal Facebook page a couple of weeks ago, and it occurred to me that it would be applicable for this blog as well. So I'm sharing it here. Hopefully this will kickstart my desire to write blog entries here more often.
So I'm teaching a class again this year for the first time since the 2003-2004 school year. Not a demotion--just missed the kids. Anyway, for the most part, things haven't changed much in 12 years. But there have been a few changes:
1) There is a lot more technology. You think I'd know that, since I'm the one that put it all in, but still, it's one thing to know it, and another thing to experience it.
2) I LOVE some aspects of it, such as having a projector in my classroom--totally changes a lot of things and how I do them.
3) I'm also glad to see that so many of my students have smart phones--BYOD is a really possible thing, at least on a small scale. I teach 23 9th graders, and 21 of them carry smart phones or some other Internet-capable devices around with them every day. And I'm not teaching in a super-affluent area. In 2004, I don't think that percentage of adults in the building had a regular cell phone, much less a smart phone.
4) I love that EVERYONE has and uses email now. When students are absent, I just email what they missed in class to them and their parents, along with how they can make up that assignment without having to take time out of their day to come after school to see me. I've only had a few absences, but this communication tool has been great! I really couldn't count on anyone to have email back in 2004.
5) In 2004, no one ever said his or her life goal was to be a professional YouTuber. But I have a student who told me that the other day.
6) It's been 12 years, but there are literally the exact same textbooks in my school. I'm teaching freshmen instead of sophomores, but if I'd been teaching sophomores, I could have read exactly the same stories as we were reading 12 years ago. The books are pretty beaten up now, but they're still here. I guess that's a testament to both the high quality of the textbooks we purchased in 1999 and the low quality of education funding in Kentucky ever since then.
7) A problem I've always had as a teacher is getting excited and losing track of time and thinking we're halfway through class and the bell rings. But I use the alarm on my cell phone (Thanks, Lisa, for the suggestion) to alert me when there are 3 minutes left in class. THAT's been a fantastic strategy for me.
8) I used to always put on the board what it was we were doing that day, mostly because I'm the kind of person who likes to check things off on an agenda so I don't go stir crazy, and I figured there had to be at least one kid in class like me who would appreciate seeing that we were making some kind of progress. But now, thanks to educational "innovation," I have on the white board what we're doing PLUS an "Essential Question" PLUS a "Learning Target" PLUS our homework PLUS my daily electronics policy. It's a good thing that I only teach one class and only teach it first thing in the morning--I don't think there is enough time in between classes to get that done from one period to the next.
9) One big change has occurred in ME. I think it's because my own children are now older than these kids, whereas before they were a decade younger, but...I LOVE these kids! I mean, I love them emotionally, and I want the best for them. I guess before I always knew that there were parents who loved the kids I was teaching, but I mostly saw them as little adults who could be treated as such. These kids are kids to me, and I care so much more about their happiness and their success than I did before.
There are other changes, too, but those are the big ones.