After a three day drive in our tiny Honda Civic packed with everything we own, we made it to Utah before the last weekend of Summer. Week Zero was a week full of meetings, getting to know staff, and last minute preparations.
I’m teaching at Corner Canyon High School. This is a brand new school where some construction and building prep has yet to be completed. The class schedule is entirely different than what I’m used to. We have A and B days with 4 blocks in each day. The students take a total of 8 classes, where a normal class lasts the entire year. Each class is 85-ish minutes long. I’m teaching three Regular Physics, two Honors Physics, and one AP Physics B. Each day I get an 85 min planning period and it’s wonderful. Our school has roughly 1900 students and class sizes are 35 to 40. I guess this is normal in Utah, but it makes for some tough lab management.
My class originally had no window. I decided to switch with the lab room. I want a window, but also it makes more sense to have a lab room that can be dark for light labs. The day before school started, my class tables arrived. I was hoping for 20 tables with 2 students per table. Turns out only 10 tables will fit, which means many tables have 4 students per table. Not ideal, but our unofficial school motto is “Be patient. Be flexible.”
Meetings weren’t too bad. I have to remind myself, I’m getting paid to sit and listen. I can do this. I’m very thankful for our School Policies Online Modules. We didn’t have to sit and listen for hours. We logged into Canvas and watched videos and took short quizzes. Much simpler and much easier to manage my time. I do gag everything I have to do make up cheesy acronyms. We are the Chargers and so we had to make a Science Department C.H.A.R.G.E poster. Here’s what we worked out.
Week zero also meant organizing equipment for the entire science department. As a new school we had to order all new equipment. I was hired after the orders were sent in, so I’m still wondering what will arrive when. We have all new Vernier equipment with new LabQuests. I have a class set of iPad mini’s (if they ever get loaded up). As a teacher, I was given a MacBook and an iPad for teaching. But to be honest, my favorite purchase so far has been my whiteboards. I went to Home Depot and got 4′ x 8′ whiteboard and had them cut it for me. I bought 5 boards and made thirty 24″ x 32″ group white boards. I bought some Turtle Wax and duct tape for the boarder. I’ll let you know how they turn out.
I’m excited for a new school year. I like my co-workers and hope I like my students. I feel entirely and utterly under prepared for the school year, but I have to remember it won’t be perfect. Even though we have a beautiful new school, nearly nothing is ready for teaching. “Be patient. Be flexible.” Even if I don’t have everything planned, school should be about instilling a passion to learn in students. If they don’t remember a single equation, I don’t mind. I just want them to have positive feelings about my class and associate that with learning in general. Lofty goal, but it puts less pressure on me to teach physics and more push to build relationships.