Tag Archives: sophomores

Beyond the school walls

What did I do this week?

On Monday I took four seniors to Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis to scope out the site for our chalk competition.  Went to Starbucks to revive our lagging energies.

Chalk artists meet here

Chalk artists meet here

On Wednesday I went along with the sophomores to Fashion Fair Mall to study visual display.  My nine students worked from Macys to Penneys, and did very well.  I treated all the sophomores to lollipops from Sees to tide us over until lunch back at school.

Nine outstanding sophomores standing outside Macys

Nine outstanding sophomores standing outside Macys

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Exit stage right

The whole state of California was in test mode yesterday and today with the major stakes Exit Exam, also known as CaHSEE (California High School Exit Exam).  The majority of the test takers were the sophomores, class of 2011; however, any junior or senior who has not passed must take it again.  And again, and again, and again…because this test must be passed to receive a high school diploma from a public high school in California.

I may have been the only teacher on our campus who was happy these past two days.  I did not test this year (usually I have sophomores and so proctor the test for my students), but rather spent the 4 1/2 hour period each day with my marketing 3 seniors.  We freeze the school in period 3 and those not taking the test spend the time in that classroom.  I used the days for a guest speaker and business plan presentation preparation.  

Most teachers see it as a waste of time and many kids get bored and want to go to other classrooms.  I have a few kids who spend some time in my room who aren’t my period 3 student, but they have to have a project on which to work.  They cannot hang out, or so I thought until today when I let a girl come in during the second two hours and she ended up being a goof-off.  I finally sent her back to wherever she came from.  The time is too valuable to waste, or so I believe.  I’m not in the majority on the campus.

What I learned this semester

I learned a lot this fall semester because I had to.  I was a quick study of PhotoShop layers and my kids did some pretty good things with the little bit I knew and was able to pass on.  

I learned that my multimedia kids hate to take photos, but I don’t understand why.  I always gave them lots of leeway in the assignments, but they fought me each week on getting three pictures taken and uploaded.  You would have thought I was asking them to do calculus.  They enjoyed using the photos I uploaded for them, and many would not have done the assignments without my pictures.

I learned that the kids who did really well are the ones I’ve had before.  They are well trained and ready to get in and do the work.  The others, who don’t know me very well, would fool around, wasting time, and then want the deadlines to be extended.  Hah.  They also thought they could turn in crappy work, as long as they turned in something, and could pass the class.  They found out that I am a tough grader who expects good work.  My academy students would always try to make their work better, taking to heart each check point and the evaluations I would give them.  Maybe this next semester I will see better work from the newbies.

I learned that I must be unusual in that I don’t have a desk in my classrooms.  I sit and work where ever there is space and/or an open computer.  But reading another blog, I find that is a dream of others.  I have a wonderful office, however, where I can store my stuff.    

I learned that NOT teaching sophomores for the first time in 18 years was wonderful.  I had no idea how much time and energy I put into those kids until I didn’t have to do it.  My classes are filled with upper classmen which I really like, especially since two thirds of my students are from my previous sophomore classes where I worked so hard to get them trained.

I learned I can teach FrontPage, and the kids can do a good job with the little I give them.  I’m glad that was the last unit we did this semester and will use it as a starting point in January.  I’m sure there is still much to be learned, as that is what education is all about.

I figured it out

The first two weeks of school have been great.  I have great kids in great classes.  Oh, yeah, there are a couple who are giving me some grief, but it’s ok, it’s manageable.  On Wednesday, it hit me as to why this was such a great beginning of the year and I was feeling terrific.  For the first time in 18 years, I do not have the sophomore Academy class.  I do not have to be the drill sargent, I do not have to teach like it’s bootcamp.  I have the kids who I put all that effort into two years ago, and now I am reaping the benefits.  It is bliss.

I knew I wasn’t happy having to be so hard on kids to retrain them to do what they were supposed to do in the first place.  The results, down the line, were exemplary, but getting there was killing me.  Each year got harder as I found kids had fewer classroom management skills.  I have some of my Academy kids in multimedia, and oh, what a difference.  They know how to behave, they know what’s expected, they know to listen to ME when I give directions, they know to do the work the way I want it.  Again, bliss.

Teaching is fun again.