I have taught exactly one full day of classes and I’m exhausted.
I am not giving up hope for this year, though. It will be harder, but it doesn’t feel impossible and there are some bright points.
Our district is moving towards more of an inclusive school model. Given how small we are and the fact that the middle school and high school share a building (kinda – it’s two buildings connected by the cafeteria/gym, but there’s no need to go outside to go between them), it does make sense to at least have the middle and the high school share more resources.
As one of the first steps in this transition, they decided to share me, Jesse, and the middle school art teacher (our high school art teacher retired at the end of last year). The three of us are teaching a variety of classes for 6-12 grades.
It’s caused all kinds of scheduling chaos, as you might imagine, but today went off pretty successfully. My schedule now runs:
- Tech (coding) or Study Hall (alternate days)
- Intro to Drama
- Plan (oh, glorious plan!)
- Middle School Speech/Drama
- Middle School Speech/Drama
- Advanced Drama
with HS Speech Team and the musical after school.
Apparently the state standard for plan time is 15 minutes of plan time per prep (courses you teach – if a teacher had 3 sections of Algebra 1 and 2 of Geometry, he/she’d have 2 preps). I have 45 minutes of plan time.
One thing I’m still wrestling with is how to cut my longer classes in half, especially Advanced Drama and Filmmaking. With courses that rely on rehearsal time and production time (respectively), going from 90 minutes a day to 45 is tricky.
I found that the hardest part about today was the mental work. Juggling so many different classes/subjects in my brain at the same time (especially with students who overlap between them, making it harder for me to keep them mentally separate) was more tiresome than I expected. As soon as I hit 5th hour, I took two minutes just to breath and process, then started making a lot more lists to keep track of what had happened, what needed to happen, what I would like to have happen, and what should happen a little ways down the road.
There is good news, though, as I mentioned. For one, my classes seem to be good groups. Even though the HS Speech class is way smaller than I like (ironically – I know it’s a trope to complain about the large class sizes, but I find small classes much harder to teach for these beginning performance classes – they require a LOT more energy on my part to keep them running and positive), the group is mostly enthusiastic and well-mannered. This is a welcome change after last term’s druggy/angry kids and the posse of boys the term before that who met the worst stereotypes you can imagine of redneck jocks.
The middle schoolers are a) short and b) eager. Those classes are mixed 6, 7, and 8th grade; and boy, is there a big difference between the 6th graders and the 8th graders. They were perky, though, and very pleased with themselves for making their way through the cafeteria and up the stairs to my room in the high school building (that was one thing I put my foot down on – I already have three different classrooms. No way was I going to add a fourth in the middle school building). I had forgotten how terrifying going from elementary school to middle school is (Different teachers! Different classes! Different rooms! A LOCKER!), so I’m sure it did take a lot of bravery for some of these wee ones to walk through the high school with the really old kids.
I was startled to find that the middle schoolers reminded me quite a bit of Jack. Then I realized that with Jack going into 2nd grade, these 6th graders were much closer to his age than they are to my senior students. That’s weird.
Speaking of seniors, I’m also luck enough to have Advanced Drama for the last class of the day. It’s already a bit boost psychologically to have that to look forward to. The class is large, enthusiastic, happy to be there, and filled with the students I spend the most time with. Even though it ranges from 9th-12th graders, from SpEd kids to uber-gifted, these are my people and it’s nice to have them to look forward to.
It is, however, quite unbalanced gender-wise. Happily, a few more boys were added at the last minute; but if any of you have suggestions for a play that works for 5 boys and 19 girls, by all means let me know.