Sunday, February 3, 2008

Welcome to Term 1 2008!

Week 1 of Term 1 is over. Phew! I have five classes this year, all maths: Year 8 & 9 Maths, Year 10 preparation for Maths A, Year 11 Maths B and Year 12 Maths A. I also have a Year 8 HFG (house family group—our school's name for a home group/form class/…). This is much less work for me than last year, when I had six classes, including a Year 8 science class. This year I have six spares a fortnight instead of about three and a half.

My Year 12 class is made up mostly of students I used to teach last year. I am delighted to have them in my class again! (After losing them in Term 4 last year, thanks to a rearrangement of classes due to changing numbers of students doing Maths A vs Prevocational Maths.)

My Year 11 class promises to be great—if I can keep them all from failing. There are two Maths B classes in Year 11, each with about a dozen students. It's a fantastic situation for the students. But if too many of them drop back to Maths A, we'll have to combine the classes in order to make a new Maths A class (the current two Maths A classes are close to full).

In Year 10 I have 28 students. This is a lot! In the one lesson I've had with them so far, I had to keep them in for 15 minutes because they couldn't stop talking. That's okay, they'll learn. I'll give them a seating plan on Monday. I'm much more confident of my ability to cope with this class now than I was last year, with a smaller but equally disengaged and talkative Year 10 Maths A class!

In Year 9 I had hoped to get my previous (then Year 8) class back, but I didn't. That's okay. In this year's class of around 27 I seem have up to a dozen students who are much quicker than the rest; I'll have to work hard to stay ahead of them, finding appropriate challenges to keep them engaged and learning. I also have about half a dozen who really struggle, several of whom are already on the point of giving up.

And that brings me to Year 8. In sharp contrast to last year's enthusiastic and energetic group, this year's cohort are quiet, shy and a bit nervous about this whole high school thing. In my first Year 8 maths class, they made almost no sound at all for most of the lesson (and we have 100 minute lessons—that's a long time for a group of 25 twelve-year-olds to stay quiet)! My HFG are very slowly starting to come out of their shells.

In terms of my teaching skills, I can really notice a difference from the start of last year. My stress levels are so much lower! Not only do we already have somewhere to live, a friendly church and local friends, I also have a much better idea of what I'm doing in the classroom. My self-confidence is much higher. I know what to expect, and (most of the time) how to respond. And, of course, I'm no longer a “new teacher” and therefore the students aren't quite so eager to check me out and see what they can get away with.


Hamish said...

Sounds like you have it all under control! ;) An excellent situation to be in.


Laetitia :-) said...

So what, if too many kids drop down into Maths A from Maths B, *all* of them have to do Maths A? If so, if I were in that situation as a student I'd switch school.

Ian said...

Nono, it's more complicated than that.

Current situation:
2 Maths B classes, 12 students each
2 Maths A classes, 26 students each

If too many students want to drop down, the new situation will be something like:
1 Maths B class, about 20 students
3 Maths A classes, about 20 students each

Is that clearer?

Anonymous said...

Three cheers for the new year 8's! Yay for you too, Ian. So glad to hear you're newly "in the zone" as a teacher.

--David S