Saturday, September 20, 2014

Show Time

In the movie, All That Jazz, Roy Scheider played Bob Fosse, the famous Broadway choreographer. One of the clips I remember best is the repeated image of Scheider, looking at himself in the mirror every morning and saying, "It's Show Time". It has been showtime for me for nine days now: rehearsals are over, the seats are filled, and every day, a different show must go on.

When I first received my timetable, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my teaching load first semester would be light. Instead of the usual three classes, I would have only two until the end of January. (I will be full-time in the second semester.) Also, the two classes I am currently assigned are both the same course, English 4U, which means I need only prepare one lesson each day and then repeat it. Since I have come out of retirement to take this position, this is a great way to ease me back into teaching.
My new identity
Another advantage for me is that I have been left excellent resources by my predecessor, who developed the courses I am teaching. During the time I was getting ready to begin classes, I pored over these resources, changed a few things to suit my style, and incorporated some of my own materials that I had kept on my computer. I worked hard to get ahead of the students, if only by a day or two.

My lovely purple planner.
On the first day, I was ready to go. I was standing in front of my own classes for the first time in over three years. The faces were familiar since I had met many of my charges during Orientation Week, but so much else was new!
One of my classes
I have a total of 37 students in my two classes. The great majority hail from six Canadian provinces, with Ontario being the most common residence. I have a student from Arizona and one from Sweden. Many of them come from the public education system, while others have been attending independent schools and a handful, boarding schools. Few of us knew each other before the year began.

In the first two weeks, I was mainly "the sage on the stage", instructing from the front of the room using the old-fashioned Socratic method. As the semester progresses, I aim to be more often "the guide on the side", leading the students to discover rather than telling them what they need to know.
Teaching my other class
In spite of what I have termed a "light teaching load", I feel I am working hard both during school hours and at home. Since I am pushing the students, I must also push myself. In nine days, they have completed a first draft of a writing assignment, a plan for a poster of their "life map", and a test. Marking, marking, marking for me.
Returning some student work.
Test day.
Of course, by collecting and marking their work, I am getting to know my students better every day. This will be a special relationship not only because the school and the classes are small but also because we are all part of the same remarkable experience here at NJC.  The students have a lot invested in this year away from home, so while I will always challenge them, I will also support them when they need extra help.
Conferencing with Rachel
As I get into the swing of things, I am reminded every day that I enjoy the company of senior students, and that I love language and literature. It feels good to be back in the classroom.

No comments:

Post a Comment