Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Term Twos and Study Hall Blues

Hardly blue, to be honest. I'm having a great time in my biweekly prison: the kids appear to be getting things done, I just knocked out a serious amount of planning for next week, and I'm two 45-minute blocks away from the weekend. But I'm cooped up here for the next hour and a quarter, and what better way to spend it than to do a little writing?

Here we are, at long last, at the Winter Term. The day finally came - and went - where I stepped into a room full of new students and gave them the old philosophy spiel, slightly revised from August but with more or less the same gist. They're still shaking out their schedules for the term so I see a different bunch of kids every day (which is a little head-spinning if you want to actually get anything done), but so far it's going quite well.

Some things about my two new classes:

- they're small. Even after all the adds and drops, it's looking like I'll have one class of twelvish and one class of nine. That's barely more than half the size of my classes last semester. Will it take some reworking of the lessons? We'll see.

- they're old. Lots of seniors and juniors, and even the sophomores feel more mature than they did in my last classes. Maybe that's just the work of a few months at King's - if we're actually getting them to improve and be better thinkers, more power to us.

- they're smart. Wow. We're having big discussions already, or at least starting to, and they're raising their hands and participating and moving at quite a clip. I really may have to pick up the pace, but it looks like it's going to be a fun term.

Time to go bother a girl who decided she could use Supervised Study Hall time to take a nap at her table. Uh-uh.

Now she's diligently putting together her diary entry from the point of view of an African slave in the 1800s. Don't they understand that we give them interesting homework?

Obviously not, because they're in high school.

Anyway, it's been a pretty solid week with the new kids. I'm enjoying revamping my lessons and taking my own advice from months back. Makes things easier to plan as well. I have to say that I was hit by my first wave of real nostalgia earlier this week, when I took out my old lesson plans and prepared to start things from scratch once again. Just a feeling in the pit of my stomach, looking at those old print-outs and scribbles and thinking of where I was, and who I was, as August turned to September and these uniform-clad ragamuffins showed up to try to learn. I suppose a lot has changed since then.

All 8 Teaching Fellows got letters of intent last week; they like us and they want us back! One or two have turned in a definitive yes, the same a definitive no, and about half of us (I haven't asked everyone) are in the "maybe" column. A lot to think about before I commit in either direction, but I'm grateful for the time I've had here so far. I met with a student today who told me her friend convinced her to take my class by saying it "changed her life." Did I do that? Can I keep doing that? Can't deny that it feels pretty good to know that I caused someone to say that about a high school class. Let's hope we can make it happen again with a new batch.

In the meantime, the weekend approaches. Next week is Spirit Week, which promises to be a whirlwind of activities (most of which I haven't even heard about yet), and before we know it I'll be on a plane to the homeland. Time is a tricky thing; let's keep it moving, term 2.

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