One thing I’ve learned working at my school this year is that I have to stay flexible. Things change in an instant and part of what makes for a good classroom is being able to adapt on the fly and make sure that whatever changes happen don’t get in the way of quality instruction. At one point in the fall, my friend Courtney had the size of one of her classes more than double without notice, leading her to start class with more students than she had desks for. That’s just one example of these changes we are constantly experiencing, but I’ve come to somewhat enjoy these changes. At least it keeps things interesting, right?
In the last month or so, I have actually been subject to far fewer of these shifts than usual. As my classes stand now, I have two double dose language arts classes (one for 7th and one for 8th) and one 7th grade reading intervention class. Double dose classes are 2 hours and 15 minutes and are designed for students who are pretty far behind in reading and writing. Even on the best days, these classes are a challenge both in terms of management and engagement. As if time working against me wasn’t enough, my 7th grade class is made up of 12 boys. That’s right, a class of all 13 year old boys and no girls. Whatever crazy, off the wall things you are picturing happening in that classroom right now, you’re probably not too far off.
Going into spring break, it was rumored that our double classes would be collapsed, restructured or done away with all together, so I was somewhat nervous coming back since I really didn’t know what to expect. But today I got some really great news about what my classes will look for the rest of the year!
First, my 7th grade class is going to be combined with my friend Courtney and we will now co-teach our double dose classes together! I am really excited for this opportunity to collaborate with another teacher and utilize some new strategies that aren’t really available in a classroom led by one teacher. I am a little bit say goodbye to my “Goonies” class (as I affectionately call them now) as it is now, but I am happy I will still be able to work with them in this new environment. I think all of our students will benefit from this shake up in structure and the chance to spend more time one on one with a teacher.
Also, I will no longer be teaching my reading intervention class and instead will be co-teaching a 6th grade class with my friend Kate! This is going to be a huge shift for me because 1) I have never taught 6th grade 2) her language arts classes are 66 minutes compared to my 135 minutes and 3) she teaches the most advanced 6th graders in our school. Yikes!
I am thrilled to work with Kate as she is an exemplary teacher and has already shared so much of what she knows with me this year. It is no exaggeration to say there’s a chance I wouldn’t be getting my job back next year if it hadn’t been for all her advice and coaching this year. Partnering up with her is quite the stroke of good luck for me and I’m already eager to see what I will be able to learn from her teaching.
Furthermore, next year I will be teaching 72 minute blocks to students who are much more advanced than those I work with now, so this will be an opportunity for me to see how classrooms of this nature operate. It may sound trivial, but this is a completely different type of teaching than I am accustomed to, so it will require a lot of restructuring on my part. This chance to work with Kate certainly gives me a jump start on next year!
So, I will now be spending 3 of 5 teaching periods a day co-teaching and I couldn’t be more excited. It will be something new and exciting and will hopefully allow for me to develop new instructional strategies to use with my kids. And, best of all, I get to keep my 8th grade double dose as is. As a teacher, I suppose I am not supposed to pick favorites, but if I could, my 8th graders would win hands down. They work their asses off for me every single day while managing to still be fun, excited, and hilarious. I am happy I’ll get to see them through the end of the year.
Speaking of funny, I got this gem from some of my kids today.