Sunday, August 30, 2009

One week down, 42 weeks to go

After a week and a half of excruciating new employee inductions, coma-inducing orientation and staff committee meetings, mind-numbing guideline sessions full of TLAs (three-letter acronyms), and the occasional respite of a school spirit speech, classes finally started this past Monday, and I finally got around to my job: teaching. Well, kind of.

On Monday, first and second periods were shortened owing to a pep rally, so all I did there was take attendance and distribute class syllabi. The remaining periods, I was able to do what I had hoped: namely, to introduce myself at length, and to have all of my students do the same. With some of the classes, this activity quickly de-evolved into a chaos of excited questions about my tattoos. Go figure.

On Tuesday, I went through the tattoo show-and-tell lunacy with my first two periods, then caught up all classes on lab safety. One of my Chemistry students astutely noticed we don't have a fire extinguisher in the room. At least he was awake!

On Wednesday, more flat-out chaos: I marched every one of my classes down to the Library so they could pick up their textbooks. Since all the Science classes were slated to pick up their books that day, the wait took up most of the class period. Upon our return to the classroom during one of my Physical Science classes, I noticed there were still some ten minutes left until the bell, so I asked the students to go ahead and start reading Chapter 1, to which one unfortunate soul replied, in shocked disbelief: "You want us to read? ON OUR OWN?" It's gonna be a long year.

On Thursday, finally! Lecture time. Well, lecture time for the first four periods, since the school photos "grade X students go during period Y" designation left me with only half of my Physics students during sixth period (the juniors left), and only one Physics student during seventh period (the seniors left). At least I was able to help her with her Algebra II homework.

Friday was doubly good: no more administrative garbage or interruptions, and since we have casual Friday at our school, I was able to wear jeans and tennis shoes. The jeans aren't such a big deal, because even my dress pants are comfortable. But the tennis shoes were a gift from God -- I have blisters on my heels from a week of wearing dress shoes. Time to splurge yet more money I don't have to buy a pair of fancy sneaker-dress shoe hybrids.

All in all, the first actual work-week of my new job was: exhausting, because I found myself leaving school and coming straight home to prepare lectures and activities for the next day; frustrating, because I (the whole faculty, really) had to deal with an absurd amount of transferring students, the class sizes are absolutely enormous, and all of our schedules were shifted around the day before classes started -- yes, you read that correctly, and in my case, it was actually the NIGHT before; but also very rewarding, especially when it comes to my Physics students, who are attentive, funny, and understand that once we're on task, I need them to stay focused. It was tough keeping some of my other classes equally focused, especially my non-honours, we-don't-want-to-be-here Physical Science students, but aside from the occasional "QUIET, please!" warnings, I had no disciplinary problems. And if that's all I have to worry about when it comes to discipline, then I'll be thanking God profusely, because that kind of restlessness was to be expected during the first week of school.

May the next 42 weeks be more like Friday -- a nice, relatively stress-free, routine learning / teaching experience.


iblee said...

wtf? They marched to the Library to get their textbooks? No wonder college kids show-up thinking that's where their textbooks are.


(Notice my use of TLAs and FLAs -nice.)

iblee said...

Overall, sounds like a good gig and I'm jealous of your commute.