Thursday, July 22, 2010

The speculation continues- now with a bit more information!

Well, I have gotten my exact teaching assignment. It is official that I will teach at least one class of grades 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 just about every day. In the lower grades, they only have science four times per week but I think that in grades 10 and 11, they have science every day. I mentioned before that my planning will definitely have to step up compared to what it has been for the last six years. Will I have time to sleep? I remember that during my first year of teaching, I was staying at school until 6 or 7 at night, EVERY night. Multiply that by 5 preps and I might actually sleep at school like I always pretend to my students that I do!

I am hoping that my lesson planning proficiency level has increased enough that I will be able to expedite the process a little bit! But, a lot of this will be content that I have never taught and so I will have to read up on my high school chemistry and physics. The high school classes are especially important because I am responsible for preparing them for a HUGE test they take at the end of 11th grade. For those familiar with the British system, these used to be called “O Level” exams but are now referred to as GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams and the results of these tests deem what students are able to study in their future. Talk about high stakes testing! As a side note, if you’ve read Harry Potter books, these same exams are still referred to as “O levels” in that they are called the “O.W.L’s.”

I have been lucky in the last six years in that I have had the flexibility to organize my units as I see fit for my particular group of students. There is a scope and sequence in the district (which I have largely ignored, if I am going to be perfectly honest) and I have taken complete liberty in terms of the order in which I teach the various units. I realize that this is not a reality for most teachers and this year, it will no longer be a reality for me! I will be teaching units that are organized around 24 exact class periods with pre-written assessments the students must take on a specific day. Short of an actual teaching script, this is about as opposite of my current situation as I can find. I look forward to this challenge because I know that this is the reality for most teachers. My test now will be to see if I can still teach in the way that I have grown accustomed while still fitting in with the required parameters.

I am not exactly sure what the following units actually entail, but here is a list of the fall semester (Autumn Term it is called there) units for each grade level. Keep in mind that I will have one classroom and to anyone who has seen my vocabulary-covered classroom, I cannot imagine how crowded the new one is going to be with words!

Grade Level

First Units


Lab Safety


Colourful Chemistry


Body Fuels



Inheritance & Health

Useful Chemistry


Chemistry-Products from Rocks

Physics- Energy & Electricity


Energy & Electriciy

For anyone who might be reading this who has several preps per day, I am sure that I sound like a whiny baby. As I am starting to really realize, I have had a very cushy situation over the last six years- one prep all in one classroom. I would appreciate any advice on managing the space in a classroom that is shared by many different classes and age groups.

I’m starting to think that more than ever, it will be important for me to have those “big ideas” of science (systems, change, equilibrium, form/function, etc.) on the walls and have kids look at how each unit of study fits into those “big ideas.” When not learning all one discipline of science over the course of the school year, it is especially important to have kids figure out how each new thing they are learning connects to prior learning and how it all fits together.

However, again, it is a lot of speculation. Without the exact parameters, I am still just blindly stumbling through the dark. However, I know that I am in for a big change and I am such an obsessive-compulsive freak about teaching that I am really trying to think through a lot of the issues before I even get there. On a separate note, I have been bleeding money for my new wardrobe as I have been “de-Coloradoing” my work clothes. No more school hoodies and jeans for me! The kids have to wear a shirt and tie- even the girls- so I know that my current style won’t fly. Thanks to my mom and my wonderful friend Natalie, I have been able to shop ‘til I drop! Stay tuned for more crazy teacher ramblings!


Megan said...

WHEW! I'm exhausted even reading your blog.

Jes Harfeld said...

It's going to be aaawe - wait for it - some! I'm sure you'll manage everything. At least you probably won't have to handle parents who don't want their kids to know about evolution :-)
PS: Nice blog - looking forward to following it.

Natalie said...

Well, if the planning doesn't work out at least you'll look good! Just kidding, I KNOW you will figure it out and you will manage to have fabulous and engaging lessons,,,as usual.