I know that I will have to watch out for my two biggest classes (which are still smaller than almost every other class I’ve taught before now) because they will have a tendency to run away with me if I’m not on my game.
I know that I will have to watch one of these classes in particular because of a high male-to-female ratio. (I had a similar composition with my problem group of seniors from student teaching, so I’ve experienced how bad this can get.)
I know that I will have to watch the other class because, well, they’re seniors.
I know that I have leverage over both my seniors and my juniors: the seniors need to be ready to step out of high school in May and into college or “the real world” (and by that, I mean “the workforce,” most likely), and the juniors need to be ready for the PSAE/ACT in April. Both groups know that they are way behind the curve, generally speaking.
I know that I will need to be strict in general.
I know that I will have to make at least one significant change to my novels elective: I got complaints less than a minute after handing out syllabi about reading The Scarlet Letter because the previous teacher taught it to juniors. There goes another book, and worse yet, it was the first one I intended to teach. Looks like Of Mice and Men will be first up instead.
I also suspect (what, did you think everything was going to be certain here?) that I will end up teaching one of the chick lit novels (Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights) because my novels course is virtually all girls – only two boys at the moment, I think. Still working on getting Frankenstein, but something makes me think that won’t cut it.
I know that the Easy Button™ I bought last semester was probably one of the best investments I’ve ever made. (Remarkably, one student was very confused about the purpose – or lack thereof – of the Easy Button™ and presumed that you had to make a wish before you hit it.)
I know that I will have to watch how I respond to the smart-alecks in my classes that make me respond with sarcasm, something that my principal explicitly warned against. (But come on, it’s hard to respond with anything other than sarcasm when a student notes that he goes by Joe, “with a J.” I guess I need to be more self-disciplined and to keep my razor wit sheathed for more appropriate moments.)
Best of all, I know that I can do this: that there are students who are looking forward to learning from me, that I have incredibly supportive colleagues and administration who are looking out for me, and that I can manage to keep things together. How well I keep together – well, that will be the test of my time this first year.
Look out tomorrow, I’m coming back for more.