Sunday, August 26, 2007

School has started back up - about three weeks ago - and I now find myself in room 122, teaching American History. As I've previously mentioned, the change allows me to teach the subject I truly love as well as stay with the same students I have had since last year. All around, it's a good deal.

Thusfar, my second year compares favorably to my first for a number of reasons. Primarily, my comfort level is much greater, not so much in the classroom but as in the school as a whole. I've always been very comfortable in front of a classroom, but now I feel supremely confident walking down the halls of RHS. My peers and the new administration seem to regard me as somewhat of a leader; I have been made chair of the history department and named to a couple of academic committees. These are, yes, mostly nominal positions that rely on bi-monthly bullshit sessions after school, but it is nice to be chosen regardless.

Students - both those I have in class and those I don't - recognize me as somebody who is largely fair and commonly understanding. It's great to return to school and have a kid you've never seen before approach you and say, "Mr. Ewing, I'm mad at you for switching grades. I thought I was gonna get to have you as a teacher this year." And this is even when I had one of the highest rates of failure of any teacher last year.

But having students like and respect me does not mean I am a great teacher. On the contrary, everyday I see things that I need to work on, even if the students' don't notice. I am disorganized and easily procrastinate work with a professional panache. My content knowledge is solid, but I constantly think that I can rework lesson plans to better serve the learning needs of my students. I completely ignore all suggestions of differentiated learning and have no idea what "depth of knowledge" refers to - even though I am on the school's Depth of Knowledge Committee (we've yet to have a meeting) and am supposed to teach Depth of Knowledge skills to other teachers in the district sometime in the near future. Actually, I think I have a good idea of what it means, but cannot bring myself to actively engage in Education Department-mandated terminology. It, as a good friend might say, hurts my soul.

To get back on topic: the second year has started well and has re-energized both me and my desire to teach. History (specifically American history) is the greatest subject in the world because it is so easily related to the students' lives. Already in three weeks this year we have had more meaningful, energetic debates in class than we did as an English class all last year. Was this a result of my failing as a teacher last year? Certainly, but I cannot force energy to germinate wherever I choose. On these topics, my students seem to have something to say.


Blogger miss mouse said...

Hurrah for the start of a new school beginnings for all, taking lessons already learned and opportunities missed in the past into the future, to try again, learn some more, grow in new ways! i turned 50 and am no longer directly connected to the academic year, but the early changes of foliage here in New England bring the urge to read more, sign up for a class, challenge myself in new ways.
Here's to a great year in your classroom, and your school!

6:02 PM  

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