Well, denial only gets you so far! Ready or not we started back to school Tuesday and I have now survived the first week back. Every single year I forget just how exhausting the first week of school is.
This year I am back teaching in the grade nine pod program at my school, but there are some “small” changes for us. I’ve returned .75 time (instead of .5) and my co-teacher from last year amazingly agreed to work with me again and so we both transitioned to a full morning pod. This is 3 sections of grade nines instead of our modified two section one which was for band & hockey program students. This means we have added more co-teachers to our team (all of whom are also awesome) and are now integrating across Math, ELA, Science, Practical and Applied Arts and Art during our mornings. Currently it’s slightly overwhelming.
To add to the complexity, because we are no longer teaching to specialized programs our learner diversity just went through the roof. I remember being very surprised at the learning needs that we had to accomodate for last year in our classroom. Well, scrap that. This year we have a huge EAL (ESL) population, and a minimum of 4 self-identified modified students per section, and several intensive needs students to boot. That we know of, of course; this number always grows in the first month as students who were trying to hide by switching school systems etc. come out of the woodwork. Yikes! I still don’t feel like I have a good handle on how to modify curriculum in these large classes (30) to accomodate these learners. But, overall, I’m far less stressed about it than last year because this year I have in class support right from the beginning. It makes such a huge difference to have another adult in the room (teacher or EA), and it is so helpful to my stress level that I’m not down at the office every single day fighting to get this extra support for these kids during these first few weeks. Now, hopefully our enrolment doesn’t continue going up or these folks will likely need to be placed elsewhere… Also helpful is that the EAL kids are just so sweet. Many are really weak, but mostly they don’t arrive with the same attitudes and behaviour issues as the majority of my regular math phobic/modified students.
So it will be another year of huge learning for me, but there’s certainly never a dull moment!