This is my ninth year teaching in a public high school. I was in school for like 20 years, and my kids were in school (while living with me) for about the same. Add a couple of years teaching at a private school. You’d think that I’d have internalized the rhythm of beginnings and ending a long time ago, but those pesky years of working in the corporate world must have fogged my brain. Ninth year, and I think I’m actually ready for the start of the school year. Almost. Got two more days.
We’ve got a new teacher in the math department at our high school, and I’m determined to make her first year better than mine. I remember the late nights, the feelings of my own failure, and the few successes as I worked my way into becoming a teacher. I didn’t identify myself as such for four years. I had been department chair for three years at that point! So I really want to have my stuff done so that I can help her out.
This year I’ve cut my dreams all back to one major concept: create a classroom conducive to kids helping kids. This year I am committed to arranging the layout of the classroom to maximize the possibilities for student-student interaction. But I hate taking time to move desks! I have as many as 38 students in a class period — I’d waste so many minutes to move desks every day! I’ve tried in previous years and I find that I don’t often tell students to move desks (“Get into teams”) because it takes too long.
So here’s the solution I came up with. Don’t move desks! (Except on days of individual mastery assessments — and coordinate these across courses.) And use first period only to do the rearranging. Sounds simple, but it took a while to get used to the idea, and it will probably take longer to get used to looking at every day. Collecting things and handing things out will change, too. But I can do this! My biggest question is whether the students can actually get into the desk arrangements OK. In my classroom every desk has right-hand ingress-egress only and all except four have a left-hand arm-rest. A large football player may be limited as to what position in a group of four desks that he might feel comfortable getting into and out of.
And now that this is out there with other people reading my plan, I’m gonna have to follow through!