Saturday, February 16, 2008

First two weeks as a teacher

Cleaning up grass clippings

I am officially a teacher. I have made lesson plans, administered pop quizzes and confiscated a cell phone. Boo-yeah.

Teaching is a hard job. When I worked at the paper, I would often go in early or stay late, but once I was home for the day I was off. I couldn't design the paper at home. Totally different for teaching. There is plenty of work for me to do at home. Especially because I am working in the computer lab during all of my down periods at school.

Cale and I have a total of 27 computers working. They were all filthy with viruses and we have been meticulously cleaning them. A total of fourteen of them are now virus-free and ready for use. Soon we will move half of them downstairs to the second computer lab and have two working labs, each with 13 computers.

My biggest disappointment right now is that I have been doing all of my computer teaching in regular classrooms (you know, rooms with no computers) because the labs aren't ready. I really want to teach computers with computers.

I am slowly — oh so slowly — learning some of my students names. Though they still laugh hysterically when I try to pronounce them. There is one students name that I will always remember how to say because she wrote a helpful pronunciation guide on her homework assignment. Her name is Teuteronome, which is Sāmoan for Deuteronomy in the Bible. It was really smart of her. Now I know how to say her name right and I will always remember who she is.

I am not 100% sure what classes I will be teaching all year, as things have been in flux for the past two weeks. Originally I was teaching all of Year 13 (13.1, 13.2 and 13.3) and year 11.3 and 11.4. However, 11.4 was taken a way from me after the first class because some of the students were a little rowdy. Personally, I didn't have a problem with it, but apparently their form teacher found out and thought it was trouble. So then I was given year 11.1, who had already been seen by the HOD earlier in the week.

Things got trickier in week two. Year 11.4 was back on my schedule (even though the HOD had taught their second class the week before). Year 11.1 was off my schedule and some of the Year 11 classes were being seen twice a week and some only once. They are still working out the details of the schedule.

Two new teachers joined us in the second week as well. One is a former Wesley teacher who left to get a degree and is back. He teaches Maths and Science, but will also be teaching some computer classes. Rumor has it he is going to take all of Year 11 computer, so I may just have Year 13. The other teacher is an Australian volunteer (from Ireland — long story) who teaches Maths and Physics. They also said he could teach computers if we wanted the help. However, we only have 27 working computers in the school and we currently have five computer teachers. Some how, I don't think we need the sixth teacher.

I am discovering how different classes have different personalities. I interact with the classes differently and there are some classes that I look forward to more than others, but don't tell them that. I am also starting to get a feel for the personalities of students. I know the handful of kids in each class that I can usually count on to buckle under pressure and raise their hands when I stand in front of the class for two minute needling someone to answer or to volunteer for something. I also know the kids that are not going to answer or volunteer even if I call on them directly.

The day usually starts at 6 a.m. I am trying to get my exercises in and for the previous three days I have been exercising from 6 to 6:30. I also turn the teapot on and make a cup of tea. I have to be at school by 7:30, but Cale doesn't have to been in until 8 a.m. (or exercise) so he sleeps in. At 6:30 I shower (as little as possible, that water is so very cold) and then make coffee for Cale who should be getting up around 7 a.m.

At first I was making yogurt and fruit and granola for breakfast, but Cale recently made two batches of bagels from scratch so we have been eating bagels with cream cheese for breakfast.

Then I put on my uncomfortable, guaranteed to be hot and sweaty all day puletasi and head to the school. I only have a class first period once a week, so the rest of the time I go to the computer lab and work on the computers. I teach three to four classes a day (out of six periods in the school day) and last week I was given three study halls to supervise.

School ends at 1:30 p.m. and I head home to shower and change. Cale gets out at 2 p.m. When he gets home we eat lunch/dinner and then end up working on lesson plans or working in the computer lab during the evening.

So there you go, two weeks of teaching. More to come.

— Sara

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