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1. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 12:52:18 AM

Okay, you asked for it!

I started posting a bit about my first teaching job over in the Cafe. In an effort to gather what are sure to be multiple rants and musings I created this thread. Also, it'll serve as a journal for me later on. Hopefully I'll be able to look back and realize how much I've learned but also that I'm maybe not as inept as I'm feeling right this minute. ;->

I'm going to copy over my posts from the Cafe and the replies.

Oh, and YES please do feel welcome to offer advice and comments. We're a discussion forum, after all, not a blogsite.

2. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 12:54:13 AM

24313. Ms. No - 8/29/2008 4:57:06 PM

Woo-frickin'-hoo!

Just got a job teaching Drama at a local high school! I find it funny that I'm going to be employed in a position that is generally really hard to find rather than as an English teacher which is so much more likely.

Anyway, I'm hyper as a chihuaha on crack right now and am off to spread the word, but wanted to drop my news here.

Wheeee!!!!

24314. arkymalarky - 8/29/2008 7:56:23 PM

Oh man, that's FANTASTIC!

24315. alistairConnor - 8/30/2008 1:32:40 AM

Way to go Nyetskaya!
My elder daughter is starting high school on Tuesday, she chose the school because there is a drama option.

24316. judithathome - 8/30/2008 8:30:10 AM

Congrats, MsNo!!! They got a good deal when they hired you!

24317. Ms. No - 8/30/2008 8:54:53 AM

Thanks!

Yeah, I've been a little stressed out of late to say the least. It took a long time for the budget to go through and this year seems to have a glut of full-credential English teachers who legally must be hired before Interns get a shot.

I had interviewed for the English position that this school had about two weeks ago. I knew I hadn't gotten the job so I was surprised when the principal called me (he wasn't at the initial interview). He said I'd gotten high marks from the interviewing panel and he wanted to know if I'd come back and interview for their Drama position.

The bad news is that it's only a 60% position right now. This is woeful news to my bank account because 60% of not much to begin with is Ramen Noodle City and a roommate, however, on the two days a week that I'm not teaching my own classes I can sub for other teachers at the school which will bring my salary up to just manageable.

They expect the Drama program to expand next year to a full time position, but even if it doesn't, their student body is growing each year so they'll need me to teach English.

As it stands for the moment I can't "officially" teach my classes until I get fingerprinted and cleared through the District which could take up to 5 days. So, when classes start on Tuesday I'll be teaching with a certified substitute in the room to satisfy the law. Crazy, eh?

3. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 12:54:26 AM

24318. arkymalarky - 8/30/2008 9:32:01 AM

Oh you MUST make time to let us know how the first days go! I'm SO excited for you!!

24319. Ms. No - 9/2/2008 7:18:55 PM

Okay, first off, my feet hurt, but not as much as I thought they would.

The day went pretty well --- actually it went really well if I think about all the ways I could've been prepared and wasn't.

We operate on a block schedule --- all 6 periods on Mondays and then Tuesdays and Thursdays are 1, 3, 5 (my classes) and Wednesday and Friday are 2,4,6.

This means our classes on most days are 100 minutes long. Yes, 100 minutes. One. Hundred. Minutes.

I didn't get my textbook or even know what it was until I got to campus this morning and they don't yet have a teacher's edition for me nor do they have the curriculum from the Drama class last year. They're trying to hunt it down, but in the meantime I'll get to meet with the English teacher who heads up the Drama Club tomorrow and I should be able to get some great info from her.

I had no idea who my students would be until ten minutes before my first class, so seating charts were out as were student files. This wasn't too awfully bad, but I'll definitely have charts for Thursday.

My first period classroom only just seats all 30 of my students and there's not a lot of space for movement although we do have access to the stage when we want it. first period students were pretty good overall. There was more random chatter than I would've liked, but they were good about calming down when asked. Some jokesters but nothing malicious and I think we'll all get along great.

Third period was in a different classroom --- much larger and a few extra desks so we've got plenty of room to move when we need. This class was much more focused and less prone to chatter and outbursts for which I'm grateful since there are 34 of them.

Lunch came and fortunately there was someone to let me into the teacher's lounge since I don't yet have keys. This means I also have to find a buddy if I want to use the bathroom. Joy.

4. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 12:55:39 AM

24320. Ms. No - 9/2/2008 7:19:08 PM
Fifth period has a LOT of hooligans and it was the only class all day where I had to really get on students for talking. This class also seems less together overall --- the other two classes could tell me what their interests were and what they had planned for their course of study. Our school has a specific industry focus so all of the students are working on curriculum that will not only support them getting into 4-year colleges but also prepare them for a specific job field.

Fifth period had a lot of "I don't know" answers and then we had a lovely group of girls who talked about wanting to be strippers at the club their table-mate (male) is going to own. Ahem.

It actually wasn't as bad as it sounds. I knew they were playing so I played back and asked them what they were going to do when they were 24 and getting too old to strip anymore. This table of students was a bit chatty throughout, but pretty much on board with the activities and tuned into the lecture.

Ah, the lecture. I hate lecture. It's a pain in the ass for me and it's not all that exciting for the kids, but sometimes it has to happen. I impressed myself with the fact that I actually had all of this information off the top of my head --- well, I made an outline last night, but the content was all from memory.

We did an improve activity where the students got to work in small groups and then present to the class. Only a couple of the groups were cop-outs and even though I didn't get from them all what I was looking for (my fault for not understanding that they didn't understand) what I did get was a lot of students going above and beyond what was actually required for the activiy and performing some full-blown pantomime sketches.

So, of my 100 minutes I had material well in hand for 90 of it and all three classes got to work on their journals or talk quietly for the last ten minutes of class. Not too bad seeing as how I thought I'd be teaching English rather than Drama up until Friday.

The administration and staff are all lovely and very friendly. The principal stopped in at my first period class and then at my fifth period class and I just thank my lucky stars that fifth period was amazingly quiet and tuned in when he happened to drop by. If he'd seen them for the bulk of the class he might have had some concerns about me.

So, tomorrow I have no classes but I'll be on campus and will hopefully get a tour so I can find stuff. I'd also love a list of my students so I can put them in my gradebook and draw up a seating chart. Oh, and a handbook on school policy would be nice so that I know whether or not I'm throwing a monkeywrench in things by letting students out of class to use the restroom.

Ai-yi-yi. I'll get there, but man is it exhausting and a bit overwhelming. It's kind of like being taught to swim by being thrown overboard in deep water. In a storm. With circling sharks. And a flesh wound. ;->

5. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 12:56:29 AM

24322. alistairconnor - 9/3/2008 12:52:33 AM

Ramen Noodle City and a roommate

You've captured the zeitgeist there, girl... Lovely phrase.

It sounds like you were born for the job. Well, that your character and life experience have trained you wonderfully well for it. In six months I expect you'll be running the place.

I wonder if I can get my daughter to do a guest post on her drama classes...

24323. thoughtful - 9/3/2008 5:41:30 AM

congrats ms no! Nothing like finding a job you'd be happy to do for nothing and getting paid to do it besides! Sounds like a perfect match up. I'm so pleased for you!

24324. Jenerator - 9/3/2008 11:23:59 AM

Ms No - great news! I am really happy for you. The kids are lucky to have such an ethusiastic teacher who has a real heart for kids. This is going to be a great year for you and for them!

24325. anomie - 9/3/2008 12:41:49 PM

Ms No, My high school drama teacher is one of the few I actually remember after 35 years. Must have been all the performance-demonstration stuff. Congrats, and I too think your students are lucky to have you. They will surely remember you in Hollywood and on Broadway!

24326. Ms. No - 9/3/2008 2:14:21 PM

Ha!

Tomorrow some of them are going to hate me and I have to say I'm rather pleased about it.

I finally have some clarification from administration about school policy and what I can dictate in my room. Not to mention that I finally got a copy of the school handbook AND I got my student roster.

Oh, woe to them. Assigned seating, class rules and more written work.

They'll be glad when Tuesday comes around and the sub lets them watch video. I'll be out most of the day at orientation for the district, but I'll be back in time for my fifth period lovelies.

heh, heh, heh

24327. anomie - 9/3/2008 2:17:13 PM

What power! Don't let it corrupt (or disappoint) you, Ms No. It is ephemeral.

6. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 12:57:32 AM

24340. arkymalarky - 9/4/2008 3:51:58 PM
No, that's a great description of your first day! Are you going to keep a journal of the year? I want to keep one of my last year, if I know when I'm in it. If your first year is like most, it'll be hard to make time for it, but you'll never forget it. After 28 years, my first year is the clearest of all of them. I'll be interested to see if by the end of the year 5th period isn't your favorite group.

Sounds like you're off and running. I'm no expert, but email me if you're ever inclined.

7. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 12:58:39 AM

24342. Ms. No - 9/4/2008 11:02:13 PM

Thanks, Arky --- I'm sure I will email you, but I can tell you right now that I already think 5th period will be my favorite. They were a whole new class today --- courtesy of desk rearrangement and a seating chart.

We had a gas-leak scare in first period which took us out on the blacktop for about 30 minutes. This gave me a bit of a skewed idea of what the rest of the day would be like since we didn't finish what I had planned for the day. When I got to 3rd period I figured we'd end right on time, but I forgot to take into account that a lot of the time element depends on how vocal the students are in discussion.

Yeesh, that was a crazy period when I realized I was pretty much done and we still had 20 minutes of class left. I had them work on their journals for fifteen minutes and then they had the last five free.

5th period was my most participatory class and I was really impressed with them. I got answers from them that the other two classes hadn't come up with and I was just so proud of them. My hooligans had mostly calmed down since they were fairly separated and two of them were absent.

One of my kids who had been rambunctious on Tuesday was front and center so I could keep him on task and as I suspected even on Tuesday, he's talkative because he's excited.

All in all, 5th period was the best of the day.

I had my first staff meeting after school today and it was a nice surprise in that it ran pretty much on time and it didn't get bogged down. We had three students on the agenda who are in danger of not graduating for one reason and another --- turns out I've got all three of them and two of them are in my 5th period class.

One of them got a referral to the office from another teacher on Tuesday and he'd given me some problems as well, but today he was golden and after getting a little more information on him and how other teachers have helped keep him on task I'm feeling really enthusiastic about having him in my class.

I was hoping to review the cumulative files on my students, but it turns out that they aren't very informative since we draw students from all over the county and don't have a lot of their records or saved work or anything from before they got to our school.

Ah, well. I did take time during the gas scare to chat with a few of my students and get to know more about them.

I'm still terrified of next week --- I promised them a syllabus for Monday. This weekend will be hectic trying to put a curriculum together, but I think I should at least be able to give them a bare bones syllabus which is subject to change. I'll feel much better once I've got my lessons planned out a couple of weeks in advance. ;->

All in all a really productive day, but man am I staying far, far away from caffeine and refined sugar. I'm bone tired but I can't sleep for stress right now.

Journal of my first year? Heck, that's what the Mote is for, right?

8. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 12:59:37 AM

24343. alistairconnor - 9/5/2008 12:45:12 AM

That's exactly what it's for Nyetskaya... among other things.

Just wondering if it's a thread.

24344. Jenerator - 9/5/2008 4:43:39 AM

Ms. No,

Get to know the other theatre teachers in the area, they may be the best resource for you. They can share syllabi, projects, ideas, what not to do, etc., etc..



24345. Jenerator - 9/5/2008 4:58:39 AM

My biggest challenge this year is getting help for the seniors who need it. I know that I have some who have undiagnosed problems, but they're ignored because of their grade level.

24346. judithathome - 9/5/2008 8:20:00 AM

Jen, I hope you stick around....I think WC is gone for good.

24347. Ms. No - 9/5/2008 9:03:13 AM

AC,

Heck, I could make a thread. It would keep me out of folks' hair as I ramble on. (I'm well aware that a little of this goes a lonnnnng way for most people) Also, it would be easy for me to compile stuff later if I want.


24348. Ms. No - 9/5/2008 9:07:57 AM

Jen,

Thanks! Yes, I will be contacting them. A couple of them are actually old classmates of mine so it'll be good to hook up with them anyway.

Last night I tapped a couple of folks over at the university to plant the seed that they might come and be guest speakers. I think it'll mean a lot to my students since both the Chair and the Chair of the Masters program are African American women with doctorate degrees. The University Chair is near retirement, but the Masters Program Chair is younger than I am. Talk about somebody who'll make you feel two days behind when you first roll out of bed in the morning. ;->

Anyway, I'm excited about it. Although we won't have any guest lecturers until I'm sure my classes can behave for them.

24349. judithathome - 9/5/2008 10:02:20 AM

I think the idea of a thread for your "adventures in teaching" would be great! I'd certainly read it and as you say, it could serve as a diary.

9. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 1:10:49 AM

Whew! Okay, that's all the cutting and pasting....and now I'm pooped. Well, also I taught today and I've got a rehearsal tonight for a show that opens Thursday.

Just a side note: I had my first little crying jag today. I was at the district office this morning for orientation while the sub handled my first and third period classes. Between the meeting and my arrival at the school I had a little freak-out on the phone with my mom.

To say I'm a little bit overwhelmed is mild, but then I think of Mose having SIX FREAKIN' PREPS her first year and I feel like a wimp.

Anyway, I got to the school halfway through 3rd period which I probably should've just waited out, but 5th period ran pretty well so I'm feeling much better.

What I learned today is going to sound really, really dumb, but it was an important revelation.

Up until I got this job I had been preparing to teach English. I had done all my planning and preparing to teach English units and reading and writing. All of my class activities were based around that. Almost two years of focused thought and 3 months of actual work-planning.

Getting a job teaching Drama is both a gift and a monkeywrench. There is no curriculum for my class although I do have a book I can use for planning. Because my subject is not assessed on a state standards test, there is very little in the way of available lesson plans etc. as compared to the core subjects. I've been having to plan on the fly to a great degree.

It wasn't until today that I realized I was still sort of teaching my Drama class as I had planned to teach my English classes.

This is the big duh moment:

I shouldn't ever have to worry about not having enough material for a class because I can ALWAYS have the students do an acting exercise or a theater game.

Run out of planned material? No problem. Fill 10 or 15 or 20 or 40 minutes? No problem.

I cannot tell you the weight that has been lifted.

I don't feel too bad --- it only took me four actual teaching days to figure this out. Sheesh.

10. jexster - 9/10/2008 1:26:23 AM

Yes NO!!!!

11. arkymalarky - 9/10/2008 2:10:08 AM

No curriculum guide=total freedom to actually teach.

12. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 2:18:47 AM

Yeah, I was thinking how if I was anything but a brand new teacher I'd be thrilled over no curriculum guide. It's because I'm new and have neither subbed nor student taught that I'm feeling a bit of free-fall.

It's just a thought shift that I think I got a handle on today. Just now I was trying to take a little cat-nap before rehearsal --- that's been a problem for me lately, I haven't been able to sleep for stress because I can't shut my mind off --- anyway, for the first time in over a week I closed my eyes and could actually rest my body a little bit.

Sure, I was thinking about class, but I was thinking about stage activities and it didn't freak me out.

I've got a curriculum calendar due to admin on the 26th and now I feel like I'm going to be fine. This morning I was ready to throw up over it. ;->

13. Jenerator - 9/10/2008 3:47:33 AM

Ms.No,

Have you referenced this site?

http://www.cde.ca.gov/BE/ST/SS/thmain.asp

Curriculum and Instruction
http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/

14. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 7:20:44 AM

Yes, Jen, thanks!

The content standards are definitely a help. So far I've been using them mainly to type up formal lesson plans after I've actually presented them to the students. That may sound a bit haphazzard, but the CA state standards for Drama are fairly academic. It's nice because it means that whoever wrote them up had a good background in theater, but they also kind of make you go "Well, yeah. I knew that stuff was important already."


I have to submit my lesson plans to my credential program later on --- not all of them, of course, but I want them for myself in future years and also for subs. My principal isn't interested in seeing a formal lesson plan typed up so long as the students are doing well and I look like I know what I'm doing when he stops by.

The thing about Drama is that there isn't any "standard" material that all 9th graders learn, or 10th or 11th or 12th. It's not like the English curriculum where 9th grade is classical and world literature, 11th is American lit and 12th is British Lit.

There's no standard textbook even within my district for Drama --- the two teachers I've spoken with don't have a textbook at all and one of them primarily gets the "problem" students as a means of trying to keep them in school.

I can study other drama programs through the internet, but from what I've seen everyone is kind of winging it. As Arky pointed out, it's nice to have that freedom, but I'm just pannicky because I thought I'd have some materials to start with and it turns out that what I've got is just my own studies and experience. That's nothing to sneeze at, but I've said before that knowing the content doesn't make you a good teacher.

My curriculum calendar is going to pretty much consist of a schedule of how we'll get through the book and then what I'll be doing with the kids on stage days.

15. Jenerator - 9/10/2008 1:14:49 PM

Ms. No,

I currently teach 3 subjects that do not have curriculum. What I did was join the state and national organizations and then bought sample curriculum from their bookstores.

16. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 5:01:14 PM

Cool! That's definitely something to look into.

What subjects are you teaching?

17. Jenerator - 9/10/2008 7:07:19 PM

I can tell you offline.

18. Ms. No - 9/10/2008 9:38:27 PM

Yeah, drop me an email. I think you can just click my link at the top as thread host.

19. Ms. No - 9/17/2008 12:17:40 AM

Interesting day. We started off with an emergency staff meeting because the state budget has come through and instead of getting a 5.6% increase, schools are getting a .6% increase.

This, in conjunction with our enrollment, means that we'll be letting go two full time teachers as by Friday this week.

Our principal is trying to get the district to give us some leeway with our general fund money, but so far they aren't going for it.

We've got one teacher who is dying to go to part time, but she teaches all the freshman English classes, so I don't know that it's going to help. They kind of have to keep a teacher in those classes.

Our Math teacher to student ratio is the lowest, so that may be where the cut comes.

I'm the newest teacher and I'm only at 60%, however, I'm the only Fine Arts teacher so my classes are necessary in order for our seniors to fulfill their A-G requirements to be eligible for State Universities.

Other than the whole bother of looking for a job again, I'm not all that worked up about what happens because I'm so freakin' tired. ;->

20. Ms. No - 9/17/2008 12:23:04 AM

Classes are going better than they were primarily because we're on the stage two days a week, but it's exhausting for me. The kid wrangling in a big open space is getting on my nerves.

My 5th period got the lecture today about being a respectful audience, but I have a feeling I'll be curtailing their time on the stage until they can better behave themselves.

There are a couple of students whose names I'm not solid on, but all in all I'm doing pretty well with them. I'm still having trouble remembering who is in which period, but at least I do know my kids when I see them around campus outside of class.

They seem happy to see me, they say hello and smile and wave and call out to me, but even better, I ran into the school counselor yesterday and she mentioned that several of my students had commented on how much they enjoy my class and like having me for a teacher. It was nice to hear.

The two students I sent to the office last week seem to be fine with me and their chatter is reduced to mostly acceptable levels. I'm going to be changing my seating arrangements around again soon so that should take care of the last of it.

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