Month One Down!

Yesterday I wrapped up week 4 at my new school with my new students.  I can’t believe that today is the first day of September, and we have already had 4 weeks of school!  Behavior is starting to improve, and I feel like I have started to hit my stride.  On Wednesday the students will take their first big exam in my course, covering everything from the beginning of the year to now.  However, my school functions on a 2 week assessment cycle, where students take small assessments in each of their classes every 2nd Thursday.  Therefore, they have already taken 2 small quizzes for Chemistry.  After taking the exams on Thursday mornings, they have early release.  Then, the day really begins for the teachers!  We have to grade all of their assessments, enter their scores and analyze the results before the end of the day.  Plus, plan a lesson to address the misconceptions. My lesson this week, if I do say so myself, kicked ass. My assessment covered 6 different objectives / standards, and there were 4 questions per standard.  There were level 1, 2, 3 and 4 questions.  Students must receive a 3 or above on each standard (mastery) to be able to earn Flexible Friday.  Flexible Friday consists of earning free periods, where students do community service, tour colleges, etc.  But anyway, the students who did not earn mastery on all 6 standards were given a specific period to report to my class and when they entered I gave them an “Entry Ticket” which listed all 6 standards and their mastery score for each. Then, underneath the mastery scores, students were assigned 3 stations (based on their lowest mastery and/or the most important skills) in order from most to least important.   Then we (my CTRs and I) created a google doc of directions for each station.  Each station consisted of watching some type of video or animation on their laptops in order to review key concepts or skills, and then they needed to complete a worksheet we created to re-enforce those skills.  When they were finished with that station, they were able to move on to the next station.  If they moved quickly enough, they were able to finish all 3 stations AND reassess in the same period.  (Another key component of my school is that students are able to reassess in order to earn mastery).  It was like music to my ears to 1) hear silence as students completed their own assignments independently and 2) To hear them asking each other questions about the content.  For the most part, it worked out well, and I am happy to say that the majority of students took this Flex Friday seriously, and my principal was really into the entry ticket idea.

A few positives of my new job:

  • My principals ROCK.  My head principal used to teach Chemistry.  Enough said.  My AP is also awesome and handles any issues I ask her about ASAP. Like literally she has gotten up in the middle of a meeting before and talked to students I was having trouble with.  The level of follow through and accountability they exhibit is SO refreshing.
  • My CTRs rock.  I have two “teachers-in-training” in my classroom.  Some periods I have just one of them at a time and for 2 periods we have all three of us. Having three teachers in the classroom is amazing!
  • My students do their homework.  I have about 80 students and 70+ of them do their homework everyday so far.
  • Our new building is almost done and I got to design my new lab!  My prep room has glass across two of the walls and we’re calling it “the fish bowl.”  In addition, I got to choose the sinks, cabinet layout, the features in the hood and more! Once in a lifetime opportunity!
  • My new company pays for all of my benefits and my prescriptions are free!  Small selfish advantage worth mentioning 🙂
  • We’re encouraged to try new things and really re-invent the classroom and it has really pushed my practice and my way of thinking dramatically already!

That’s all for now folks!

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