Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Successful Week 1

As the saying goes, week one is in the books.  I'm starting to remember most of my kids' names (it's always the quiet ones that are difficult to remember!) and the kids are getting into the routine of middle school.  I'm trying out some new things this year and I can't wait to see how they go.

The one thing about the first week that always gets me, though, is when to start with the curriculum.  Our district provides us with a calendar.  Not one with specific topics on specific dates, but one that maps out the units based on how many days the curriculum department thinks the unit should take.  Following their calendar, we get through the curriculum (albeit barely!) before we take the state test.  The problem with the calendar is instruction starts on the second day of school.  Yes, you read that correctly, instruction starts on the second day of school.

I'm not sure how things work in other places, but on our campus, we make sure that the students see all of their teachers, get fed, and get home.  That's the goal!  I teach 6th grade, so it takes about 2 hours to get the kids settled, give them a tour of the building, wrap up attendance, etc.  Our bells aren't working, every class period is a manual dismissal so that the schedule can be easily adjusted if necessary (it always takes longer than anticipated to get the 6th graders through the lunch lines!)  This year, I literally saw one of my classes for 5 minutes!  This year on Thursday, we had an assembly scheduled for our PTO fundraiser.  Oh, and then there was textbook distribution that we (the teachers) had to do ourselves.  The unpredictability of the first week just makes it really difficult to get started with curriculum!

That being said, there's that calendar beckoning us to get started, and there are some teachers who believe that what the calendar says goes!  Don't get me wrong...I love routines and I can't wait until the kids are into the routine and we're moving along.  I get that we have curriculum to cover, but I think it's counterproductive to try to get your students to do much when they haven't gotten their supplies, schedules are still being changed/adjusted and there are many other influences interrupting your day.

I chose to do a bit of review this week, but even then, some class periods got more of a review than others because some class periods got interrupted more than others.  Tuesday we should be able to hit the ground running....that's if they all remember to bring their supplies!

How do you manage the first week?  I'd love to hear how others handle the dilemma of the first week!