Saturday, August 09, 2008

One Down, One Hundred Seventy-Nine to Go!

We had our first half day of school on Friday. Don't even ask why we start with a half day, then have a weekend, then have a full week beginning Monday. I have no idea what the thinking is behind this plan. All I know is that at 7:05 Friday morning over a thousand kids showed up and we just prayed we had schedules for most of them.

The new system we've put into place for grades, scheduling and all sorts of cool things (PowerSchool) tanked on Thursday, but was up again on Friday morning. I think most of the guidance department was putting in 20 hour days just to make sure we had a smooth opening.

Those folks rock.

In the meantime, I was hoping I'd covered all the bases with my new team. I have one returning team member, Miss Reading, who will be starting her second year teaching. The others are Mr. Math who transferred from another building, Miss Language, a brand new teacher, and Mrs. Social Studies, who was on Mrs. Eagle's team last year. As a new team leader I was just hoping I wasn't forgetting anything.

We did have a bit of a case of nerves when Mr. Math lived the nightmare all teachers have. He woke up that morning and asked his wife (also a teacher) what time it was. The clock said 5:00 am so they had a bit more time. He didn't think that seemed right as it was a bit too light outside. He checked his watch and it said 6:00. I can only imagine the chaos that ensued as they both raced to get ready, get the baby ready, drop the baby off at the sitter, and power on to school. Mr. Math rolled in about 2 minutes before the buses unloaded and was a bit rattled, to say the least. Fortunately, he's a pro and everything was ready to go so there weren't any lasting problems.

We put all the seventh graders in the theater and each of us called out our homeroom class and marched them off to our rooms. My roster had shrunk from 37, to 32, then up to 35 by the time Friday morning arrived. The problem, apparently, is that the advanced math, reading, and language classes are 4th, 5th, and 6th periods. I teach 8th grade during 7th period, have planning 1st and 2nd, so the only period they can take science is 3rd. So, most of these kids are advanced, but that also means they can be quite a talkative bunch. In any case, 29 showed up, so I did have enough seats for everyone although it meant I had to use isolation seats just to get a kid in a chair.

In the past, we've kept our homerooms for about 2 hours, then have them rotate through their schedules for 10 minute periods until it's time to release them to go home. This year it was decided that we'd keep our homeroom kids for the entire time.

I don't know how you elementary teachers do it. The thought of keeping 29 7th graders busy for a solid 3 hours and 30 minutes is daunting.

So, we handed out the ream of paperwork that needs to go home. And went over it piece by piece, and reminded them which needed to be signed and returned and which needed to be kept. I figure half of it will end up in the trash. I was astounded at the number of free and reduced meal letters I sent out. Well over one third of my class was apparently on free and reduced last year.

I did a PowerPoint on important things like lockers, and behavior, and lunch, and behavior, and supplies, and behavior, and so forth and so on. We took a bathroom break and I realized, as they were marching back to the room, that I have about 20 boys in this class. We did a group activity. We did a learning style inventory worksheet (which they thought was pretty cool). We did a word search and we did a vanity license plate drawing....and we kept them busy until it was time to send them to the buses.

And we waved them goodbye, went out to have our last sit-down restaurant lunch for a long time, and realized that it went pretty well.

We had seats for everyone.

All but four kids - in the entire school - had their schedules.

The system didn't crash.

Every kid knew what bus they got on to go home.

And no one cried or threw up.



Teacha said...

It sounds like a wonderful day. I hope my first day goes just as well! I am crossing my fingers.

Mrs. T said...

Glad your first day went well!

HappyChyck said...

Success indeed! Cheers to the next 179 days of success!

loonyhiker said...

I think they picked Friday so you would have all weekend to rest up, recuperate, or just plain freak out until Monday!! Glad it went pretty well.

W.R. Chandler said...

We also have PowerSchool at my site. Get used to the tanking thing; it seems to happen a lot.