Four weeks have flown by and school is in full swing. My classes are still every bit as huge as I reported from week one. However, I was told on Friday that the school is hiring 12 new teachers to help offset the unexpected higher enrollment numbers. By Monday the 29th my classes will be a little different. My sixth and eighth period classes are the only two I am concerned about. I know that my students are not learning much at the moment and I hope it will improve with smaller class sizes. I am pleased with a couple of changes I made to my teaching this year. First, I record my class lectures and the students that miss class have to download my podcasts. If any of you are interested in what are truly riveting class lectures you are more than welcome to listen. Visit: my.ccsd.net (search for my last name). I must admit that as I listen to my lecture I realize how idiotic I sound most of the time. I sure do say a lot of umms.
My students were a little surprised by the appearance of Cleopatra last week in class. I donned last year's Halloween costume and delivered my Cleopatra speech. In 3 of my classes I was moved to tears when talking about Marc Antony....in fact during 5th period I couldn't look at one of my students because she was sobbing. I knew that if I looked at her I would start to cry even harder. During my two average world history classes I wasn't very emotional in the performance because I had to keep telling them to be quiet, wake-up, take notes and spit out their gum. Sort of kills the mood.
The second thing I am doing this year is trying to condense my three different world history classes. I have been able to refine my powerpoints to make them effective for all three levels of class. I do tailor my individual lecture differently. I also try to use my AP materials for my honors and average classes. I don't expect my students to be able to complete the same assessments but it saves me time. I told my average students that some of the schedules might be changing and I could lose a few of them. A couple of the students commented that they hoped to leave my class, not because they didn't like me, but because they wanted an easier class. I told them they didn't offend me and I wouldn't apologize for making them do some work. Right now all my history classes have very pathetic grades. AP class average is 74%, Honors is 79% and my two average classes are around 59%.
The students have started warming up to me and they are stopping by my class more often to talk to me and seek advice. It is charming when they have questions about love and dating. High school is an awkward time and I know I am glad I don't have to live through it again. I don't envy them.