Monday, August 5, 2013

Who Needs Grades?!

Today was the first day of school. I'm at a new school that's in its second year of existence and I'm dealing with a group of kids who jumped into a situation they did not understand last year. I've taught in these situations before, but this first cohort will need special attention. I went over my syllabus with them today with the usual stuff. Materials, course expectations, guidelines, etc.. But I also gave them two very "anti-teacher" things today. The first was that I hate textbooks and believe they are a waste of money, resources, and air. The second was that I don't care what grade they get in my course.

Yep, I said it.

Now let me explain what I told them. I told them that not everyone gets the same grades. I told them that not everyone is capable of an A. I told them how some of their parents would flip out if they didn't bring home certain grades, and that I'm not their parent. I told them how some parents even pay their children for grades, and that I'm not their parent.

I told them that as long as they try their best and work to their potential, that I will be happy. If they don't work to their potential, then we have issues.

This stunned some kids, others it scared, a few it made happy. I may be completely wrong about my views of grades and there plenty of arguments for why all children can receive an A, but this is how I feel about grades in general. I don't like the seven point scale and I don't believe that simple numbers can tell you how much a student understands a concept or topic.

I'm not sure how the students will take to my bold declarations today, time will tell. I believe in being honest with my students and challenging them to work hard and to try their best. I hope that came across.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Nervous

I'm never good at writing blog posts. I always mean to, but never seem to have the time to get ideas down.

I start teaching at a new school Monday. I've been working for two weeks getting ready for the students to come in on Monday. This year will be a little different because I'm semi-coteaching a Humanities course, two actually. An ELA teacher and myself are blending English 1 and II with World History and Civics respectively. We aren't together in the same room however. This is not altogether new to me, but still makes me a little bit more nervous.

I've never been a big planner and don't plan ahead 9 weeks like a lot of good teachers do. I'm not too worried about the curriculum I'm teaching because I've taught both courses before.

I'm just nervous.

Maybe it's the new school, maybe it's the new coworkers, maybe it's the fact that I'm coming into contact with students who already have an idea of what classes should look like and I maybe totally different. Maybe all teachers feel this way before the year starts and I'm normal. Maybe not.

Perhaps there's an issue at play within myself about the classroom or education in general that's plaguing me. For the past year or so I've taken on a more "administrative" view of schools instead of a "teacher" view. (Quotes are used because I don't know if these views are defined in any certain way. Probably subjective) I've started concentrating on culture, rigor, logistics, and attitude more than lessons, wall posters, and units.

A lot of teachers will criticize administrators who only worked less than five years in the classroom before becoming APs or Principals. I don't want to feel invalidated and disrespected by teachers if I go that route, but I do feel that perhaps my calling in education isn't inside the classroom as a teacher, but helping to set up others to do well.

I'm really nervous.