I came to teach at the junior high in 2007, and my first classes of students were now the juniors and seniors about to make a teacher switch mid-year. That did it; I wanted the job. There is no question that I have worked hard in the junior high and loved every minute, well, almost every minute of it. I truly loved working with my colleagues, especially Mrs. History. The two of us were so compatible in our thinking, planning, and organization. I did not want the junior high language arts program to flounder and really encouraged my former boss to hire a particular young lady. After a lot of prayer, he did it. I worked hard, planning lessons to the end of the year, making copies of studies that I knew would be helpful, leaving everything on the computer so she would have easy access, and meeting with her weekly to answer questions and provide encouragement. As I expected, she is doing a wonderful job. It's been baptism by fire as she has dealt head-on with all kinds of issues, but she's been thoughtful, moderate, and firm in her decision-making and discipline. She's a great fit for that assignment.
Thanks to a full week of snow days, I was able to spend two days preparing my new classroom and getting ready to teach literature again. Yes, again. For several years at QCS in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, I taught American Lit, World History, 7th, 8th, 9th grade Reading/English, 12th grade Bible... whatever was needed (other than science and math). Those years, and my on-going relationships with colleagues from that time, have really helped me as I have made this change. I love teaching high school students again. But it is so different! The technology available to me now that I did not have at QCS is incredible. What an amazing benefit to have so many resources right at my fingertips via the internet.
Technology aside, serving at QCS taught me many things, especially planning ahead. The political dynamics in Haiti were always a bit dicey, and we were never sure when something would erupt and close school. Due to the uncertainty, we were required to prepare and distribute assignment sheets every Friday for the following week, detailing lessons just in case our students could not get to school because of burning tire barricades or soldiers in the streets. I did this type of planning for years, and that routine is still a part of my life today. It's probably why it was relatively easy for me to leave plans behind for my junior high replacement. I'm always looking and planning ahead. Case in point, my blog with homework posted ahead for those who are absent or planning extended absences.
It has been a serious challenge to get to that place in the high school. For the first week, I was really pushing myself with prep. However, I'm finally there. My lessons for this coming week were finished last Wednesday, and I hope to move that up to Tuesday for next week. I can always make changes but having a blueprint in place makes my life so much easier. At first I was worried about whether the students would accept me on this level. I knew their former teacher was challenging, but I heard last week that some consider me to be more challenging. What? Not possible! I'm requiring a bit more reading and writing, but I honestly don't think it's harder. I don't have as many daily assignments, preferring to have students working on bigger assignments over time. We'll see how it all functions in the weeks ahead, but I am loving my job, my classes, and my boss... yeah - my hubby. It's a good thing to be back in the high school again.
One thing that was relatively unrelated to literature (but helped create a fun classroom experience) was the table contest from last week. Our tables (rather than desks) are a bit funky and I didn't like looking at them, so I held a table covering contest. First place winners would receive a free-homework pass, and runners-up might win a free-journal pass. I had some great entries, as you can see:
First Place Winner - all hand drawn - The Edgar Allan Poe table