We started back to school (teachers only) last Monday, and on Thursday, the kids joined us. There are many changes this year -- new principal, a new position (Dean of Students), many new teachers, and an incredibly frustrating, unfriendly schedule. Our 6th graders got brand new lockers which replaced lockers that were close to 50 years old. And I got new-to-me desks. Or rather, instead of the top-opening desks I inherited 20 years ago (and they were old then!), I got flat-topped desk-sized tables for my room. So there's been a lot of excitement and a lot of angst this year.
The schedule is probably the most angst-producing factor in our back-to-school anxiety. We are following a 6 day schedule rotation, and not one day is the same! And each of the 3 grade levels in the building has a different rotation of subjects.
So in 6th grade our schedule goes:
Day 1 - Homeroom, 40 min Content 1 , Unified Art (U.A.) A, RTI, 60 min. Content 2, Lunch, 60 min. Content 3, 60 min. Content 4, UA C.
Day 2 - Homeroom, Content 2 class, UA-B, RTI, Content 3, Lunch, Content 4, Content 1, UA C.
Day 3 - Homeroom, Content 3, UA-A, RTI, Content 4, Lunch, Content 1, Content 2, UA-C
Day 4 - Homeroom, Content 4, UA-B, RTI, Content 1, Lunch, Content 2, Content 3, UA-C
Day 5 - Homeroom, Content 1, Content 2, Content 3, Lunch, 88 min UA-C, Content 4, Academic Study
Day 6 - UA-A, UA-B, Content 1, Content 2, Lunch, Content 3, Content 4, Academic Study
It's nuts! The schedule is driven by budget-concerns. Since our high school and middle school share a campus, the school board thought it made sense to share Unified Arts teachers between the high school and middle school. That meant that the middle school has to follow the high school schedule. It doesn't make any academic sense. The 8th grade schedule is such that they have a Content block that's broken up with a UA -- so it's 20 minutes of class, UA, and then the 40 remaining min. of the Content class. The poor science teachers are having a fit.
Despite the ridiculous schedule, there ARE good things. Our new admins. are bending over backwards to boost our morale and support us. They gave us breakfast on the 2nd day of school (at their personal expense -- no district $ can be used for feeding staff), and at the end of the 1st day of school with kids, they called a brief staff meeting --- to give us all ice cream sandwiches! If you want to find either of them, don't look in their offices because they are in the halls and in the classrooms.
We have a very small 6th grade class this year -- under 100. This is the first time in the 20 years I've taught here that we've had fewer than 110 students. Our town hit a really bad patch during the last few years, and many people lost their homes. It's had an impact on the school population. We were fortunate to keep all of our 6th grade teachers this year,mostly because next year we will be back up almost 120. Meanwhile I will enjoy sharing 30 students with my teaching partner! And since this probably going to be my last year, I plan to enjoy the small class size!