There’s something about Back to School Night that’s inspiring. Meeting parents of students, even if only for a quick handshake, reinforces why I’m back in the classroom. Yes, it’s for the kids. But also for the parents, who work hard and put their trust in us to help guide their children along the sometimes rocky path of adolescence.
The second week of school was still a bit disruptive with the interruptions caused by testing. Knowing I see each group of kids for about 8 weeks, I’m feeling the time crunch.
I’m working on lesson plans. Having left the classroom so long ago, I have only a few student artifacts to use as models. What I do this quarter will give me some for the rest of the year, though I’ve never been a teacher who can simply pull a lesson from a file drawer, re-date and reuse. Every class and every student has different needs and lessons need to be tweaked.
The plan is to have them answer a “Do Now” question in their notebooks—the entire school uses composition notebooks for all work. Then a mini-lesson, demonstrating something about writing, then more time to write. I’ve created long term short story assignments for each class so students have something to do when they’re finished with the daily work and so they’ll experience the writing process of drafting, conferencing, revising and rewriting.
Students have been selecting some writing from their heart maps. One girl wrote, “broken” in block letters then wrote a long saga about a failed relationship. The next day, she crumbled up the heart and her writing, and asked for a new one, and a fresh start. Ah, the whims of teenagers.
There have been a few pet stories. One student wrote about how he misses a dog that died who doesn’t compare the two dogs he now has. I asked him if he’d mind if I used his story as an example on how to expand writing as a basis for next week’s lessons.
I received my school-issued computer so now need to take attendance every period, do all progress reports, grades, and disciplinary actions—there’s a merit/demerit system, on it. It’s a PC and I’m an Apple girl, so there’s a learning curve.
Of course one of the very fun parts of working is dressing for the job. Mostly skirts and tops, though the classrooms are air-conditioned, it still can be quite hot. I pick out my clothes the night before—a habit encouraged by my mother when I started school. I have fun selecting the right earrings and bracelets and for now at least, sandals. I’m an avid Dansko clog and sandal wearer and the past couple of weeks reminded me how annoyed I am with the company because they’ve discontinued favorite styles. I’d been composing a letter to them for years in my head and finally wrote it and emailed it.
…the styles in recent years have been hugely disappointing and offer none of the class or comfort of ones that have been discontinued. I’ve had strangers stop me ask where I got my turquoise Maxines or red Heloises. I can wear a pair of these sandals all day walking around New York City and never get a blister, no matter how hot the temperature. At school, colleagues ask me where I got my sandals and I direct them to you but have to tell them that the styles I have no longer exist…
I received this response:
Thank you for your email. I am so happy to hear how much you love your Danskos! 🙂 I will certainly share your feedback with our Product Development Team.
The writer encouraged me to look at the company’s new styles scheduled for a January debut.
Oh well. No gift certificate. No guarantee they’ll consider my requests, but maybe a good writing exercise to share with students. You never know when writing a letter could have some affect.