The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Snapshots of Week One

I survived the first week back. In fact, I more than survived. As I strolled to my car today, I barely noticed the weight of my purple tie-dyed tote bag. Although it is filled to capacity with papers to grade, the week has been such a joy, I almost don't care that I have hours of grading and entering ahead of me.

I was dreading having a 9th grade advisory class this year, as I typically do not particularly like freshmen, but for a mere 45 minutes a day, particularly at 7:45 a.m., I am almost enjoying their meek, yet eager, obedience. Each morning, they file in quickly and sit down quietly, and as the bell rings, they stare at me like young deer in the headlights of an oncoming car.  It is such a drastic change from the seniors I had last year, who would saunter in 10 minutes late, talk loudly over the announcements while I shushed them repeatedly, slowly finish their breakfasts, and eventually, begrudgingly, take out materials to begin working. 

Drama switched to fifth period, and the music teacher and I are co-teaching it, which I am unbelievably excited about. I can hardly believe what we have built. Today, while Jasmin lead vocal warm ups from the stage, I stood at the edge of our two rows of students. They filled the "pit" area of the auditorium, standing shoulder to shoulder, wall to wall. There are nearly 70 students in our musical theatre ensemble. When I think back to Fall of 2009, when I sat in my small upstairs classroom with 25 students, mostly juniors who had enjoyed my English class the prior year enough to come back for an elective, auditioning students who had never acted before, it seems unreal that we have come so far. I mean, during our musical theatre mind mapping activity on Thursday, I had students who were listing Broadway shows they'd seen, and the names owswsSf method acting greats like Stanislavski and Strasberg. Could it be that I have actually developed a true academic theatre program?  I think so.

And then, there is sixth period. This past week, my colleagues and I were talking about how tough sixth period is. By sixth period, teachers are exhausted. The kids are antsy. The patience and sunshine I usually start the day with fade significantly by sixth period. The past two years, my sixth period has been drama, which kept it fresh, but requires a ton of energy. I managed to survive on passion and caffeine. When I thought of what it would be like to teach another English 10 class after drama, I could not imagine how I would possibly have enough energy.

As it turns out, I must have done something nice to the counselor or something, because my sixth period is pretty awesome. I have bright, refreshing students in that class. As it works out, most of my sophomore drama students are in the class. We (the drama students and I) come out of 5th period full of energy and excitement, and it seems to carry over into sixth. I am able to sort of "play" with this class, and it works out well. I actually really like them. They may turn out to be one of my favorite classes. 

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