Two years after countless hours researching, multiple textbook changes, and assembling a coherent, comfortable, and successful class structure, I entered my first high school classroom. I agreed to teach a course for the college (first period…7:30 am…A.M.! The lecture doesn’t come close to this kind of cruelty) at a local high school.
It felt like a prison. Painted cinder block walls, faculty and staff on high alert (for what? Is there something I should know?) Nervous, but prepared I entered the classroom. Two wall-sized chalk boards (yes, I said chalk), a small white board, a projector that was powered by the devil himself, broken chairs, random desks, and a large (and completely awesome) floor lamp(?). A once, well loved science classroom, turned junk room. There were just enough seats for the students. This can work.
Teacher’s Log Day 1:
I spent fifteen minutes trying to track down I.T. and get the projector and internet working. Finally ready to work my magic. Lights! camera! Bell rings? First period over. Apparently first period was on an abbreviated schedule that day, my first day. Mortified. Confidence level: amateur. Pack up. Leave school. Blue lights. Apparently my tags expired…two years ago. Defeated. Want to quit. Want to cry. Want to scream obscenities, but can’t because I’m sitting right in front of the school waiting for my ticket. Deep breaths. Try again.
Teacher’s Log Day 2:
Apply self-deprecating humor to conceal embarrassment. It works. Students agree to help guide me through high school schedules and bureaucracy. Ok, let the magic begin. Lights! Camera! Lecture!
High school students in their natural environment are a particular breed. A force to be reckoned with. They are full of passion, emotion, and energy. They are hilarious, and blunt, and obnoxious. And their attention span and toleration for a lecture are non-existent. Even with my leading questions and visual aids, and hilarious commentary. Not.having.it. Incentives! meh. Threats! double meh. Spice things up and add group text book work and discussion to the lecture. mehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. You know that part of your brain that houses your wild, uninhibited, idealistic, fantasy version of your ideas? That is all I had left to turn to.
Teacher’s Log Day 6:
No lecture. No coursework. I gave the students an anonymous survey. What is your favorite class and why? How do you learn best? How much free time do you have outside of school? What interests you? What do you wish teachers knew about being a student? The discussion and answers that followed was electric and enlightening. My classes would never be the same.