Thursday, June 13, 2013

Peering Ahead

So in my last post I talked a lot about some failures from last year, which I think is pretty important.  I will probably mention one or tow more here, but I really want to get around to thinking about next year.  I have a level of excitement about next year that I haven't had in a decade, and that includes how excited I was to come to STEM.

  1. Ramped up expectations-  this applies to myself and the kids.  I won't say that I had low expectations last year, I never do, but it was the first time in a long, long time that my expectations were exceeded.  I had classes that I thought would do okay just knock it out of the park.  Since I was new to every kid having the technology I threw some crazy stuff at them and they for the most part ran with it and did well.  A highlight for me was when I had my APES class do biome projects.  A pretty standard Biology level assignment honestly.  So to make it a little higher level, they had to do it like a travel guide for the area.  One group actually camped out in the forest over a weekend and made a 15 minute long video that was simply amazing, great in its content, its humor and the quality of production.  That was one of the a-ha moments for me that said I could push these students to even higher heights.
  2. New classes- Last year I had new classes too, but ones that while I may have been qualified to teach, were a little out of my wheelhouse (though I'd love to teach APES again).  Next year I go back to teaching AP Chemistry, which is such a fun challenge, and to go along with #1, I'm really looking forward to see what can happen at STEM with a group of 10 kids who are taking it not because I'm a cool teacher as happened in the past, but because they are going to use it and are interested in chemistry.
  3. Really new class- I am excited and nervous to be teaching a new class called Intro to Organic and Biochemistry (IOB).  We are a STEM school, and so a lot of our kids are going into STEM professions.  Organic chemistry is often a sort of weed out class for those professions and I think a large part of that is because they get no exposure to it prior to getting in the class.  I'm not planning on teaching this at a college level (since I'm not at that level in any case), but am so excited for the labs and just the complete newness of it.  I think there will be some great crossover with the biology classes at our school as well.
  4. Teaching partner- One of the most exciting things this year is that we are not only doubling the size of the science department staff, but that one of those new teachers is a great friend of mine who is an even better teacher than myself.  He and I are already planning on some things to do together and are hoping that the vibe there spills over to others and really forms our department into a really cohesive place full of individually amazing teachers (which they are already).
  5. Getting more involved- I will freely confess that I've held back on doing any extracurricular stuff for the past 6 or so years of teaching.  A big part of that is that I have young children and feel very strongly about taking time away from them.  But next year I think we are going to do a competitve gaming club, which just fits so well in our student body that I can't even describe it.  I really think it will be something that helps to bond our kids together as a student body, which is something a bit lacking since we are an area magnet.  I can't wait!
  6. More- Since we are only in our 3rd year at STEM and started with just 9th and 10th graders, this is the year that we are really going to be big.  We'll have seniors for the first time ever and therefore graduation!  Our staff size is almost doubling as we go from the 180-something kids the first year to over 500 (I think) next year.  I don't know where we will fit them all, but I really think it is going to be amazing.  I'm looking forward to interacting with new staff members and being pushed forward as a teacher as well.
I could probably go on forever, but I'm logging off of here to go work on that IOB class for next year that I am so excited about that I haven't stopped thinking about and working on since February!

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