Saturday, August 23, 2008

School Tour

For those of you who've been asking about how the first week of school went, the results are in: 2 thumbs up.

The video montage is of our school, my room, and photos of all the murals I pass walking from my room to the back parking lot. They are all student made and reflect the culture of our students. So to keep them free from tagging is the eternal job of campus security.

For my teacher friends who need more details, read on. All others are free from "shop talk" from here and are given guilt-free license to tune out and surf for funny stuff on YouTube.

This week began the first year of the Roosevelt High School Freshmen Academy. About 400 of our freshmen are in the Academy program. Our location is East Hall where our principal, 2 counselors, and teams of teachers are set up.

I'm on a team with another math teacher, two English teachers, a science teacher, and a sociology for living (SFL) teacher. These freshmen have been identified at-risk for failure coming from eighth grade into the ninth. Looking at our data from 8th grade, we have a ton of work to do...both in mathematics and English. Most of our student population are English Language Learners and that makes our job so much more important. As a student, if I can't participate fully in the curriculum because I don't understand the language, I am more likely to opt out. That may manifest itself with class disruption, gang involvement, drug use, truancy, and, eventually, physically dropping out of school. Our drop out rate is so high that I'd depress myself by typing it out, so let's just say I absolutely have a reason to invest myself at my school this year.

I share 50 kids with the English, science, and SFL teacher. The other 50 are with the other math teacher and English teacher. The science and SFL teacher have both sets (100 kids total). No more wondering who their teachers are and where they go next. Elementary school teachers, I'm sure that last statement sounded funny, but in the high school world, that information is not always free-flowing.

I teach two blocks per day (I'd be jealous of myself reading that). I see my kiddos everyday for a block period, and they stay with each other all day, going from class to class in the same building. The beauty is that every one of my 50 kids has the same English, math, science, and sociology teacher at the same time. So, one of our team was at a conference on Friday, and I knew my class had her next period. It was a perfect time to talk about the expected behaviors when a guest teacher is on campus, so when the bell rang, all 23 of them walked down to class with that on their brains.

We teachers also share a conference time (in addition to our prep time) every other day to conference about student progress and cross-curricular activities. This week, we spent a lot of time making sure our rules and procedures were similar (to ease the transition to high school for our students) and sharing anecdotal evidence of student progress. There is so much potential here when it comes to intervention opportunities for these freshmen, so I can't wait to see what happens next. As far as collaboration goes, kudos to the math department because I'm almost having to hide during my prep period so that I won't be "interrupted" with so many good ideas and thought-provoking questions.

WOW! For all those who asked how school was, be careful what you wish for, eh? Still want more info? Try our recent accountability reports for demographics and scores. Here's to a great year. Thanks for all your prayers. Go Rough Riders!


Wendy said...

Wow, that is really cool -- and I'm not even a fellow teacher. I'm anxious to hear how your school year goes there. Lots of great stories, I bet, and I know you are going to be great for these kids.

Sara said...

Natalie, what a great program and it is wonderful to hear your enthusiasm for your work! I'll be praying for your year (as I'm sure challenges will come) to be as smooth as possible!

Susan @ Blessed Assurances said...

I am praying for you, God has a reason for you being there. May you touch your students lives in a powerful way that carries beyond this school year.

Jodi said...

Wow... I loved reading that for sure!!! I just picture little ole you cracking down on those Rough Riders! I hope the year is fantastic... I think I might be too chicken to take on that task, so HUGE kudos to you!!! :) I know God has big plans for you there!