Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Chaz Travels No More This School Year. However, The Real Work Is Just Begining.
I have been offered a provisional position in a high school for the rest of the school year and approach it with some trepidation. Taking over five Regents classes halfway through the school year is a problem and more so since these classes have been without a regular teacher for two months! When a teacher takes over a class that has been without a teacher for two months, it is going to take some time to get the students into academic shape.
First, and most importantly, I must impress upon my students that I am here to stay for the school year and I will be giving them a grade. If the students fail to grasp that reality, the class is destined to fail. Remember. if the students believe that there are no consequences to their failure to follow orders, you are in for a terrible time. Just ask all the weekly ATRs about their classroom experiences in the many NYC schools. Phillip Nobile described an experience he has had at a couple of the Brooklyn High Schools. The mere fact that you do not control their grade makes it almost impossible to control a class in the many low income and poverty-ridden community schools in the City.
Second, you must quickly evaluate each and every student in your classes. Some schools allow you access to their school records, many do not. I try to talk to both teachers who had the student previously and the deans about the student's academic and behavioral issues, if any.
Third, you must show your classroom management skills if you are to have any chance of getting the classes to pass the Regents. That means clear and consistent rules that apply to all. This is a real problem for many teachers, especially the "newbies" since classroom management skills are learned over a multi-year period.
Fourth, you need to have a complete understanding of the curriculum and be able to clearly present the topic so that the students understand what they are reading and doing. If the more academically challenged students are still having problems, then slow down and try to simplify the lesson by going back. The rest of the class will also benefit from this "look back" approach.
Fifth, you must connect with the students. They really need to respect you, not fear or disrespect you. Sure, there will always be a student or two who will not like you but if the majority of the class thinks you care about their academics, they will respond in a positive manner.
Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help from other teachers. Remember, you are new to the school and their culture and it is very important to rely on the senior teachers to enlighten you on the policies and procedures associated with the school environment.
The bottom line is that for me to succeed, I must show my classes that I am a "quality teacher" and that means demonstrating to my students that I have good curriculum knowledge, posses effective teaching skills, care about their academic well-being, and have appropriate classroom management. Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Walcott, and E4E are you reading this?