This week all the classes I taught were review classes. One student refused to review my class. Others understood a pun that almost got them bonus points.
Depending on the class, I’ll let the students study any subject for the last 20 or 25 minutes of the lesson. I usually give them material to work on for the first part of the class and in case they neglected to bring anything else to study.
One student, though, refused to even take out a pencil when he had the material for my class. He kept complaining that he wanted free study and I kept saying no. I also postponed the free study time for an extra five minutes.
Eventually I let the students study whatever they wanted an the the student who didn’t study started to study.
In my worst class, when it was free study time, four students just stood in the center of the room chatting and playing air sports. When I asked them what they were studying they said “Social studies”.
I said “I see. So you’re talking and being social.” They seemed to get that and then sat down and didn’t do any work.
Because they at least seemed to get the joke I almost gave them bonus points. Except that they didn’t actually do anything so I couldn’t.
Two studied. A few pretended to study. The rest weren’t even aware they were supposed to be doing something. I didn’t care either way.
This is a strange week and it makes it hard for me to care very much.
A few classes still have class. A few classes have been moved and have class at a different time. A few others are not having class at all. At the same time I’m marking final exams but the constant on-again/off-again nature of the week, and the small number of exams currently in hand, makes it easy to put off dealing with them.
At the same time, if I have one or two classes in a day, I don’t really care what happens as long as blood or protruding bones aren’t involved. (i.e. As long as I don’t end up having to do any paperwork and/or interviews). If the students don’t want to study for their final exams, it’s not actually my problem. In fact, anything that increases the chances of them passing in a blank exam is good as that makes my job easier.
Eventually, I’ll be passing back completed exams on the same day I’m collecting exams for the classes I’m still teaching. At least then I’ll have large blocks of time available and will be able to get into a marking rhythm.
I still wont’ care, but at least I’ll get through things faster.
A short interlude from the Olympics has been necessitated by the necessities related to an actual job.
This is the time of year at the school where I work when we all go slightly mad.
Classes for different grades end at different times and we find ourselves finishing exams for one grade whilst we have several days left to teach in other grades.
By next week we’ll be marking exams at the same time we’re planning and teaching other classes. During that time we may have one class on Wednesday afternoon and one class Thursday morning.
This seems awesome, but it requires we keep careful track of time and days lest we miss one of those classes. (Note: this happens more than it should.)
Eventually we’ll be passing back exams the same day we are getting others.
At some point we’ll stop caring, but today is not that day. Close. But not yet.
The new guy was warned but thought he could handle it. When he came back he appeared to have been handled.
For at least this week, maybe more, we are a colleague down at the school where I work. Because of this we’ve had various substitute teachers rolling in and out of the office. The first was assigned, for his first class, one of the worst classes in junior high school first year. He came back looking worse for the wear but went away with some energy so the day wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
Today there was a bit of confusion as many people rushed in to assist the newest substitute and give him different visions of what he should do. The results were a bit backward from what was expected by the lesson plan that no one seemed to notice. It’s not a fatal problem, but it does complicate speeches and the final exam.
For my part, I’ve been staying out of the mess. My voice would only succeed in complicating things further. I’ll help out with writing exams if necessary but the day to day stuff I leave to people who are much more competent than I am.
Things should start to settle down tomorrow when the first sub comes back. At least, that’s the hope.
Forgive me if I’m shouting but for three hours today I felt as if I were in a crappy night club that confused noise for music.
This means, of course, that I taught first year junior high school students after a long break and right before another one.
Of my three JHS 1 classes the usual proportion of noise to silence is one quiet, one noisy, one LOUD. Today all three were loud.
This is because they’ve just finished an entrance exam break and have another long break coming up this weekend. Long breaks cause them to forget English, class rules, and the vindictiveness of their teacher.
However, because I also benefit from entrance exams, I was in a more laid back mood. They did all their work, they just did it at the level of a jet engine blasting at full force right before it explodes.
Luckily, the classes didn’t get quieter as the day went on. If they had I’d have started fearing I’d gone deaf.
My worst class was the Guinea Pig for a lesson. Thanks to them I’m going to have to change a few things.
The first week of class is usually filled with welcome back activities and reviews. This lets us get our teaching legs back under us and gets the students back in learning mode, in so far as that exists at the school where I work.
However, because of a quirk of the schedule (six days of entrance exams) my worst class only meets four times–possibly five; long story–and I won’t see them again until February. This means I had to teach an actual lesson.
This also meant that they’d be getting the first taste of the lesson, well before I’d worked out the bugs. Normally, in a regular week, they get the lesson last, after I’d had two other classes to fix mistakes and timing. Also, because they are a bad class, they are often a bad test case.
Today they got through the material so quickly that I had to fall back on a back up plan and actually get them to work in the textbook. This means that once I get to the better classes, especially the higher level one, I’ll have to have lots of extra material.
I doubt they’ll be that good again, especially after not having my class for three weeks, but it was a pleasant surprise.
Note: Another one that’s out of order because LAZY
Last week I gave the chance to be responsible for their own actions and seating. This week I’m rethinking that decision.
Because this is the final term of the school year, I give first year junior high school classes a chance to choose their own seats in the hope that they will be better classes. (Normally they have to sit in alphabetical order.) Two of my classes, including my worst JHS 1 class, chose to change seats.
The theory is that the class will be more manageable because the birds of bad feathers will sit together and this will calm the class. (Something like that.) If it doesn’t, I will sit them in a different order.
In my worst class, the worst students did flock together, but not completely. For reasons I don’t understand, the student who has literally not finished a single assignment in class all year, chose to sit near better students. This has resulted in bad students talking across the room to each other.
Next class, if the situation doesn’t improve (and it probably won’t) I’ll have a new seating chart with a “play room” where the worst students congregate and do nothing and a “study room” where students who aren’t quite as bad occasionally do work.
Luckily, there aren’t that many classes left, so to quote Miss Hoover in the Simpsons: I have nothing left to say to any of you. So if nobody minds let’s just quietly run out the clock.
This week one of my colleagues has the flu and is banned from working for at least five days. As a result, the head of the English department at the school where I work is making demands of the rest of us. At one point she outlined a long list of steps the most senior of us was supposed to follow. I ended the list by adding “And make sure you send a bill to Random Other Dispatch Company.” (Note: not the company’s real name.)
This earned me funny looks.
A former colleague of mine used to mock my habit of saying “Not my company” when I was asked to cover for an absent colleague who worked for a company that wasn’t the company for which I work. (Long story.) He did this until a person who worked for the company for which I work started being absent regularly and he was asked to help. Suddenly his refrain was “Not my company.”
I understood his attitude.
Part of the problem is that although none of us actually work for the school where we work, the school likes to treat us as if we do. The other problem is that being a team player earns no tangible rewards therefore there’s no incentive, other than being seen as helpful, to help out. The next time there’s a problem no one will cut us any slack for having helped out the company for which we don’t work.
That said, I did help out the substitutes, both of whom I’ve met before, and was on my best behavior.
Hopefully, things will settle down next week.
I’m more or less finished, except that I’m not. Sort of.
Today was my last day of test pass backs, which means I’m more or less finished except for checking final marks and the speech contest. (More on that in a minute. Sort of.)
The first class (a high school second year/11th grade class) had a bit of drama when three groups had to present their final projects or fail. The first bit of drama was that I’d forgot the third group was supposed to present and was surprised when the came to the front to do their presentation.
Then, 35 minutes into the 50 minute class, I called one of the groups only to discover they’d apparently forgot/didn’t finish one of their pictures.
(Note: the final project involved the students making a kamishibai out of “original” superheroes and super villains they’d created.)
There then ensued a strange conversation where I asked if they needed paper and they just sort of stared blankly. In the end they created a fresh picture on the back of one of their returned exams thus violating the rule that all work should be done on clean paper.
The second class was unexciting and boring and I was actually hoping for a bit of drama.
Next week is fairly painless, except for the speech contest, which could lead to some interesting issues depending on what mood I’m in. (More on that in a future post.)
Note: This one is out of sequence as Monday is supposed to be stationery, etc. day. However, work has dominated so today is actually a random Wednesday. Sort of.
If I’d had something for them to do they would have wanted to do what I expected them to do today but because I expected them to do it, they didn’t want to do it and expected me to have something to do.
That pretty much sums up test pass backs.
For reasons that are too complicated for me to understand (i.e. I asked once but have forgot the explanation), we are forced to keep our students a full 50 minutes during test pass backs even though there is actually only 10-20 minutes of actual schoolwork for them to do. (Note: There is apparently a way to get shorter classes, but I’ve yet to figure it out after 17 years at this school. i.e. I asked once but have forgot the explanation.)
Normally, students bring their winter homework to do during the December pass backs. If I try to get them to work on anything else, they slowly drift to homework. Today, though, my classes just stared at me as if to say “Here we are now; entertain us.”
Instead, I told them they were on their own and many of them invented violent games involving rock-scissors-paper and slaps to the head and/or back of a hand. (This actually kept me entertained.)
Oddly, even the homeroom classes didn’t bother digging out work even though they had easy access to it.
Tomorrow I’ll have something for my classes to do. I doubt they’ll do it, but at least I’ll be ready.