Thursday, April 30, 2009

decisions to make

if there are any teachery folk out there reading my blog, i'm curious as to your opinion on the following matter:

for a first year fellow, i think i've done a pretty good job. i have a decent passing rate, pretty motivated students, and a good relationship with a lot of them. my lessons usually go well, too. however, my biggest problem is that the students don't listen to me as much as i'd like them too. they see the AP coming down the hallway and they run inside class. they see me walk down and they continue misbehaving. they're doing something they shouldn't be and one person will say "you better stop or [the english teacher] will get mad." you never hear that about me. i'll tell a student to get back in their seat and maybe on the 5th time he'll listen.

so... next week i'm going to chose which grade i want to teach next year. i have 3 options:

a) move up with my current students
b) teach the new class of 9th graders
c) teach a mixed program of 9th and 10th grade

all of these options have definite pros and cons and i'm having a very hard time deciding.

With option a:
-i already know the students and know what works for them, how to differentiate, their skill levels, have solid relationships with many of them, etc
-i have an awesome textbook that i custom ordered geared towards my teaching style
-i like most of the students
-we won't constantly have new students added every week like there is in 9th grade
-they will hopefully be slightly more mature as sophomores
-i will be teaching geometry which i really don't like
-i want to run a tighter ship in my classroom and it might be hard reinventing myself with the same students that are too friendly/not respectful to me.

With option b:
- i get to teach algebra again, a subject that i love
- i can reuse a lot of my current lessons and powerpoints, just with some tweaking.
- i already know how i would go about teaching the course differently, and think i could do an awesome job
-i can reinvent myself as a stricter, no-nonsense teacher with students that don't know me at all
- 9th graders are horribly immature
- the class sizes will be bigger (possibly 30 per class as opposed to 20.) this is a biggie
- with 9th grade, there is constantly an influx of new students for the first few months and it makes teaching the class difficult when so many people are behind.

with option c:
- i can chose the classes i want to teach from the 10th grade list (ie take the students i want!)
- i can still reinvent myself with the 9th graders
- i can gain experience teaching a new subject while still perfecting my algebra lessons
- i will have to prepare for two different math classes and one advisory every single day.
- half the time i write up my lessons in the morning and i can see myself getting into big trouble if i can't get everything done in time.

my principal is pushing for everyone to stay with the same students but it's ultimately my choice. my AP did tell me that i can chose to teach 9th grade for next year and then move to 11th grade the following year when my boundaries and routines are more defined (so i can get my old kids back and teach trig/algebra 2 which i happen to love.) he also said that if i change my mind in august i can let them know and they'll change the programs. (i'm the senior math teacher in my school; i can do that!)

i think i know what option i'm leaning towards at this point. but i'm second guessing myself.


Mr. Dugong said...

It seems like you're leaning towards option a. I've seen English teachers loop up with their students in this manner and they love it since they have a lot of routines already established and you have a better sense of their abilities.

I personally find re-inventing myself through other classes just adds to the frustration of dealing with a new batch of students. So to stick with the same students relieves some of that frustration.

Personally, I'd stick with "option a" since even the students who don't demonstrate their respect for your authority will eventually lighten up. And if they don't, you'll earn the loyalty of other students in the class that will help you out.

In terms of teaching a subject you don't like, I was given different subjects to teach every semester and some subjects actually grow on you as you find different ways to teach them. I was reluctant to teach physics and now it's become my favorite class to teach. Also, teaching these subjects can improve your teaching of that material in other classes.

As for me, I'm stuck teaching mixed classes, I don't even know what grade team I belong to since I have students who are between 10th and 12th grade.

Adelaide said...

thanks for your input. i was actually leaning towards option b. after 2nd period today i was so sure i didn't want these kids next year.

but then by last period i was so proud of my formerly bad-ass class that i thought it would be great to work with them again.

heh i'm still confuse but your comment has definitely shed some light on the different options for me.

btw, are you from the getlite blog?

Mr. Dugong said...

Yeah, :)

jd2718 said...

senior math teacher? woo.

Anyhow, I haven't read enough of your blog to know how the year has gone...

However, 9th graders are exhausting. A half-program of them is easier than a full-program of them.

I am not a huge fan of cycling or looping with students. But... if that is how other departments will work it, there is an advantage to staying together as a team.

One prep (all 9 or all 10) reduces the planning load, but two preps is quite reasonable.

I only got better at geometry when they forced me to teach it. I still dislike it, but I got much much better at it, and at least don't hate it any more.

My preference sheet this year? "No freshmen" "no geometry" However, I've had freshmen 7 years in a row, and I've had geometry 5 of those 7 years, so I'm entitled to a break.


I'd advise you not to take all the 9th graders again. From the teacher point of view, mixed 9/10 lets you move slowly out of your comfort zone, it's a little more interesting... Solid 10 would make you more of a team player, be easier on the planning side, and let you work with kids you already know...

If you want to suck up a little, tell the principal you've narrowed it to 2 options, they are both acceptable, and could he give you more input... (sneaky, huh?)


Adelaide said...

about the looping, some of the teachers are doing it, and some aren't, so there's no set team.

but i do like your bit about letting them know the options i have narrowed it down to... i think i might do that.

thirdgenteacher said...

Adelaide, thanks for joining my blog! I am anxious to hear what you decide. It sounds like you've really thought this through, so I'm sure your decision will be the perfect one for you.