09 August 2012

Up and Coming

Dear all who care to read this blog,

I'm sorry I've been neglectful.

I'll try not to let it happen again...

No promises, though!

Today is Thursday.  A week from this Monday the first week of school will start.

I think I might wet my pants.

Ha!  Wouldn't that be a sight....?

Starting yesterday, school meetings and Professional Development have and will continue to occupy the great majority of my time until the first day of school.  Then, the Freshmen will take over.  I don't mind.  We're all getting geared up and ready for all of the changes happening in the school.  This really will be an exciting year.

In all seriousness, I really am VERY excited about what's in store for the 9th grade this year.

Why, you might ask?

I'll tell you why.

You know how in most high schools, when students get to the 9th grade, they have multiple teachers, 100 different procedures to remember, a million different preferences per classroom, and every teacher's personal discipline plan?

Strike that.  ALL of that.  We're doing something different (because EVERYONE likes different!)

My dear school has what they call the Freshmen Academy.  Essentially, for 6 out of the 8 periods a day, all of the 9th grade will be in ONE section of the school.  They have their own wing.  Isn't that cool?  It's kinda separated from the rest of the grades, and that was done for a reason.  Reason being this Freshmen Academy idea.  For the last 2 periods of the day, the elective periods, the students get thrown in the throngs of the upper class men and basically have to fend for themselves.  But while they're with us, they have stability, which, I think I can safely say, every young teen needs as much of as possible.

Not really that different, you say?

Okay, how about a unified syllabus for all Freshman Academy teachers?  Same rules.  Same implementation.  Same expectations.  Same everything, except (obviously) the teacher's name.  All students will know and understand that they will be treated the exact same way, no matter the teacher or subject.

Since this is a brand new program starting this Fall, the school has selected a panel of 10 teachers from the Academy to be the frontrunners.  They get together once a week and talk about what's working, what's not working, what can be improved upon, etc.  All the teachers enlisted are bright, energetic, outgoing, enthusiastic, and team-center ideologic people.

I am one of those 10, selected to help bring a new chapter into the lives of the 9th graders we're about to meet.  I am thrilled and honored to be part of such a wonderful program!

We're also requiring a class that I really wish I had in high school.  It's called Freshman Seminar.  It's a bit difficult to describe, but for lack of a better term, we can call it a Life Skills class, or a Career Oriented Class.  In it, students find out who they are, where they want to go, what they can do, and the tools they need to get there.  Each student will fill out a 10-year plan for their lives according to their dreams and aspirations.  No dream is too big.  We want these kids to realize that they have the potential for so much more, to be so much more.  We want to get them thinking long-term so they have something to strive for - a career, a home, whatever they want!  They will build a budget and use critical thinking skills and team-work to try and map out how they need to get where they want to go and how to avoid making so many of the mistakes that young people make because they just aren't informed enough.  This class is a God-send, honestly.  Thinking about the area that I've moved to, and the demographics that come with that, we could see this entire city change for the better.  We want to give our students the option for a better life and the tools to get them there.  I truly have confidence that this class will help boost student motivation and achievement for years to come.

I, and the rest of the teachers, absolutely can't wait to see how this class turns these kid's perspectives around.

That's about all I can say about that.

I know I'm lame, but I don't have any pictures to show of my classroom yet!  I've got furniture in the middle of the floor so it's kinda difficult to tell what it looks like anyway.  Plus, I've not hung anything on the walls yet, so it's bare and sad :-(

As soon as I can get some good pictures, I'll post them here so you can see the transformation.

Thanks for your time!  If any of you teachers have any advice on how to handle 14 year olds with confidence, I'd appreciate anything you could throw my way :-)