First day

Great first day but WOW I’m tired! We managed to have kids go to all nine classes and lunch after spending 3 hours in orientation. Crazy fast pace! I think there are still some kinks to work out but it seems like It is going to work well. The only downside to my schedule is really beyond my control.

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Back to school

So school starts tomorrow! I’m excited about getting back into the groove of things. I never realize how much I thrive on routine until I don’t have it.

Couple of frustrations to look forward to: my classes are so insanely small I don’t know if we can even put together a full ensemble. The fine arts in Texas have been well supported and protected through the years, and most would tell you we are in great shape. The problem nobody seems to talk about though, is that although our classes are protected, the opportunities for students to actually take our classes keep reducing. With interventions, double math, double language arts, required p.e., etc….. kids don’t have room for elective classes. Add to that the dilemma that someone has gone to great lengths to convince the parents in this community that their children need to take as many high school credits as possible in middle school. All my best students have dropped orchestra for foreign language and speech.

On the bright side, we have a principle who seems like he will be fair and mostly supportive…if you can get over the fact that he has called the elective classes “non-academic” on several occasions. I have really appreciated many of the changes he’s made and I like that he has a high expectation for the success of our kids. It looks like it will be a good year.

Tomorrow I will only see my classes for twenty minutes each. Not enough time to get started. Guess I should organize what we are doing. Amazing how you can think and plan all summer and then come to day one not knowing what to do.

School’s out for Summer?

Yesterday I finally finished cleaning and organizing the orchestra room. We’ve only been on vacation for a month. I haven’t missed much of the rest and relaxation time right?
I managed to complete a physical inventory of all instruments, books and music. Then I separated it out by program. All of it is labeled, put in order and set up by school so we can get it where it needs to go come August.
I also spent a lot of time sorting through stuff that has accumulated over the years. I threw away files that date back to the early 80’s. The previous teacher apparently never threw anything away. Well, maybe they did. I couldn’t find documents that matter (like purchasing records or inventory) but I found all kinds of things that are just junk. It took two full afternoons to clean out the 2-drawer file cabinet. I can’t recall how many times I emptied the shredder.
So with exception of the one box I dumped stuff in when I had had enough and wanted to go home, my room is cleaned and organized and ready for setup after they finish with the floors. Hopefully they get that done in the next few weeks!

Now I’m on to the part that matters. I get to plan! As much as I can for now anyway. I have some really great ideas for this year so now I have to figure out how I’m going to implement.

Summer is for rest?

We finished school almost a week ago. So how is it that I have only avoided going back to the music building one day since then? I was even there on Sunday! I think I have more difficulty with the transition from working to not working than most. It is not so big of a problem when it is a few days off but more than that and I find myself in planning mode. Summer is the most difficult for me because I find myself trapped in a sort of purgatory. I don’t know enough about my classes next year to be able to effectively plan but I can’t just drop it for ten weeks. I know so many teachers who don’t look back until August. Sometimes I wish that was me.
So right now, I’m dealing with physical issues. What is the best way to organize and manage my classroom? What can I do to make inventory an easier process? How do I deal with the mess in my music library? Do I really need to keep the boxes and boxes of outdated method books from the 60’s? These are the issues that have been plaguing my first week of summer vacation. I have to get a handle on inventory and library because this year I get to give a third of it all away to the new teacher at my old campus. I combined everything from both schools a few years ago to make it easier to manage. That didn’t really work but it was easy to convince myself that it was a good idea at the time. Now that I will not be returning to one of the two, I have to find and give up all the instruments and music that belong there. I hope to have that all fixed by next week so I don’t have to worry about losing access to that Charms account. I don’t know how long it will take for them to transfer that over once the hiring process is completed.
Of course I would love to know what my schedule is and who I can expect in each class but experience tells me I might not even know that when school starts. It would not be out of the ordinary for this school to still be building master schedule on the second week of classes. I really dislike the limbo phase of not knowing what to expect. What I find strange is that some teachers (probably should remain nameless) seem to already know their class schedule for next year. I’ve overheard conversation about which students are in their third period and details like that. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong because when I dig for that kind of information I tend to get a lot of non-answers.
Oh well, I need to get away from that topic!

My mother would laugh hysterically at this statement: I like to have a plan and lists and everything in order! I say my mom would laugh because that was never what I was like growing up. Now, it drives me crazy if I don’t have an idea of how my whole first semester should go before we get to August. I am already looking at district calendars to find those inevitable disruptions (testing) that will keep my kids out of class. Once I collect that information I will begin to formulate a unit calendar. What do they need to know by when? And when is the best time to teach it? It ends up looking like a mess on paper but once I finish, I get a pretty color-coded chart to go in the front of my lesson planning notebook. Then of course real life will happen and we will only use it as a reference because it will be impossible to follow in the real world. But it gives me something to do for the next few weeks. Who needs rest and relaxation?