Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pardon The Interruption

If you've been wondering about new entries on this blog, wonder no longer. After a month's hiatus, I'm back, blogging from a new perspective. I have taken a job at a public charter high school on the west side of Detroit and reentered the classroom full time after four years of doing professional development work, mostly with elementary and middle school math teachers. As you might imagine, if feels both strange and strangely familiar to be back. Unlike my two previous full-time positions in K-12, where I taught at an alternative high school with students whose average math and literacy level was between 4th and 5th grade, and at a middle college where I basically spent one or more semesters with students trying to get themselves in a position to pass an intermediate algebra course at the community college that sponsored our charter and physically hosted our school, this time around I've got one group of sophomores for Algebra 1, three classes of seniors for Algebra II, and one class of seniors for precalculus.

The first day was deceptive, to say the least. Fewer than half the students showed up for school, if attendance in my classes was typical, and things went remarkably smoothly. I think it was the first time I ended the first day of classes feeling calm, cool, and ready for whatever the year had to offer (as opposed to wanting to crawl into bed before my head exploded). I thought perhaps the real students were being cleverly hidden away while a group imported from Cass Tech or some other magnet school had been brought over to heighten my false sense of security. Well, maybe not Cass Tech: in going over an SAT-type problem about combined rates of work, I discovered that many if not all of my students, or at least all of those who were willing to venture an opinion, believed that 1 1/3 was between 1 1/2 and 2. Perhaps not shocking from freshmen, but from 10th and 12th graders? From 12th graders enrolled in precalculus? What was I getting into? But since behavior was decent, I was optimistic that much could be accomplished.

Day 2 made clear that the honeymoon, if not over, was clearly not fated to last through Monday. Indeed, with two of my classes, it was pretty much time to seek couples counseling, individual therapy, and a good divorce lawyer. While I had been told that the maximum enrollment in my classes would be 30 (which frankly is more than I've EVER had in a class I taught in K12 alone), by today there were at least two classes that had 30+. With most of those enrolled showing up today, it was hot (no windows in my room), humid, and too often annoyingly loud. And me without my earplugs, my whip, or my teddy bear. :(

So my challenge here will likely be for much of the ensuing year to explore my teaching experiences with you, time and brain allowing. We'll see how it goes for as long as it seems productive to do so. Feel free to come along for any or all parts of the ride.

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