Where am I again?

While I have not intended for this blog to be a place where I write in-depth about my day-to-day experiences in the classroom, I was asked elsewhere to put this piece together, and thought I would also share it here…

Somehow I have already reached halfway through my first term of teaching. I am not exactly sure how I got here – somewhere in between yard duties, differentiated homework sheets, ‘cool’ days of 35 degrees and 85 of my own students, the last 4 weeks have passed me by.  If you asked me two years ago whether I would consider teaching, the answer would have been a resounding “no”.  To my own surprise however, I am finding the first stages of this new course in my life rather exhilarating.

A typical day goes like this: at 7.40am I walk out the door, arriving at school approximately 12.5 minutes later.  By the time morning briefing takes place at 8.50am, I have done the photocopying for my first 3 classes, said “good morning” to the ladies in the library and picked up the cables from them that I use to connect my laptop to the projector in my classroom.  I have also taken my books, sheets, whiteboard markers, daily planner and a stash of other supplies to my classroom, rearranged the room if necessary and set up the board ready for session 1.

As I don’t have a homegroup, I have a few minutes to breathe and read the news online before my first class begins.  Year 9 maths.  These students always arrive on time, ready to learn.  I know that I can push this class, after having discovered early on that they like to be challenged.  During this class, I am also generally able to walk around the room and have a chat to each student, spending longer with those who have missed a class or are behind.

Forty-eight minutes later, Year 9s walk out and Year 10s begin to appear.  Session 2 is always lively, and I generally start the lesson with some funk music playing while the students get their equipment out and begin doing some basic skills practice or revision.  While many of the students in this class will be going on to the Senior College down the road next year, with some already having plans to go on to university, there are a number of students who have stated that they intend to leave school at the end of the year.  As such, amongst these students, there is less motivation to learn abstract mathematical concepts and a greater appreciation instead for tangible and applied maths.  I generally find that session 2 is over before I felt it’s started, and as the students rush out to recess I am left realising that I only made it around to talk to a third of the students.

With no time to spare, I drop my materials from the first two classes on my desk and pick up the next pile of work ready for session 3: Year 7 maths.  By some miracle, I ended up with this class. On my first day, I was shocked by their immediate silence and since then have gotten used to the enthusiastic participation of students in class discussions and comments such as, “Great, we’ve finally got homework!”  The class is not without its challenges though: standardised testing recently indicated that the ability range of students in the class is between Year 4 and Year 9.  Unfortunately, at the school I am at, this is the norm.

At 12.08pm the bell goes for the end of session 3.  There ends the morning rush of classes and starts the tidying, marking and planning – a continuum from one day to the next that I have gladly found myself in.

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