Apr 28, 2010

What Comes With Community

In October, I wrote a post highlighting structural changes for our freshmen class. In sum, we want to bring the pros of a small school to our large school setup. I teach at the largest high school in Oakland; students falling between the cracks has become an all too familiar story.

With the new setup, I know all of my student's teachers and speak with them on a daily basis. We monitor our students' progress and strategize how to catch those falling behind. I know more about my students and have met more of their parents than I've ever before. We are personalizing education and bending to our students needs.

And we've created a community of freshmen.

But, as with every community, there are pros and cons. Specifically, 2 things:

1. They've caught on to all my antics.
All my teacher habits. "I understand." The sarcasm. The management strategies. Students can talk about us the same way we talk about them. Once one student catches a trend, it seems every student's figured it out. Now it seems they use "I understand" on me more than I on them. "E, I need you to come inside right now." "I understand, Mr. G." Ha, ha... funny.

2. They're all friends (or enemies...) with each other.
I guess becoming friends is ok. But now that we're approaching the final 6 weeks, every sort of classroom culture developed in other classrooms has seeped into mine. Positives and negatives. The discoveries in lack of admin support they've made in their english class is the same sort of stuff they can push in mine. And vice versa. It's become harder to quiet em' down and keep em' focused. And their freshmen.

Ok, maaybe on a path to becoming a bitter old teacher. Try 30 weeks straight of 5 periods worth of teaching freshmen, and you tell me if your patience wears a lil' thin. These mini-communities we've got here is a great thing. I consider the option of jumping ship to another school in a new place but am hesitant it won't provide the same type of setup we've got here. It ain't perfect, but it's in the right direction - in a place and a city that needs direction.


6 weeks til freedom. 6 weeks.

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