Monday, August 25, 2008

Holy Cow

Cubs Win . . . Cubs Win, the Cubs being the students.

Man am I exhausted after my first day. I really thought I had more academic stamina than that. Today at the first day back at school, we as a high school campus on the AB block schedule (meeting 4 classes each day for ninety minutes) met with all eight classes in one day. Add to that the fact we we started an hour later than usual and consequently ended and hour later, combined with the fact that I arose from slumber this morning at my usual time, made for a really long, exhausting day.

It was good, however, that I was able to get all of the first-day stuff out on the way for all classes, but that only guaranteed that I did most of the talking for seven hours while the students just sat there with that bewildered over-paperworked look on their faces. Considering I had four classes consisting of 120 new preAP precal students this year, my class-long speech on "new expectations," "new standards,"and "new work ethics" were greeted by the typical look of "oh my! what did I get myself into," followed by the hated look of "darn you, Mr. Korpi for being so evil," look. It's really hard to look into a class of 32 frightened, unstable students who only realize that in the relatively short 9 months that follow, you are going to do your very best to make them do things they don't want to do, like study and do lots of homework, and take challenging tests."

Which is why today was so vital. It is a day to let students know that they will not be comfortable this year, and if they were, I wasn't challenging them enough. It's a day that validates me as a professional, one who can see the distant horizon and the efforts and requirements needed to get each and everyone of my students there, even if all they can see is the painful road that lies immediately beneath their feet. It's about sacrificing the feel-good feeling of being the "cool, easy" teacher and risking being the "cool, hard" teacher that is only bestowed after much persistence and acclimation to new standards.

Yes, I HATE the first day of school. In fact I hate the first WEEK of school, because it requires me to be someone I'm not and everything I am at the same time. I means that the students who are weak in courage, lacking in self-discipline, or allergic to hard work get the wrong impression of me and bail my class for all the wrong reasons, while the valiant few who can weather my "first-day soapbox" (or who are giftedly too apathetic to submit a schedule change to the counselors) rise to the occasion and realize that I'm NOT evil, that I DO have their best interests in mind, and that I AM a professional.

Yes the students may have won the day, wearing me down. But I shall recover, and we shall all win by the end of the year.

I only wish I didn't take everything so personally, then I might be able to enjoy tonight as much as I'm going to enjoy tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

My feet hurt.

Thomas Korpi said...

nuts. i thought this was about chicago's chances to take the world series this year.

glad the first day is out of the way. i always enjoyed the tougher teachers. the "cool, easy" teachers never prepare you for life after school. if anything, it can be the opposite effect, especially academically.

but, just like i thought you were evil for the first 18 years i knew you, then learned to love you, they will do the same... hopefully a bit sooner. ;)

Anonymous said...

Gee to think I'm missing all of this........awwwwwh. Hang in there only 176 school days to go!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that many of the students have made you feel this way, Mr. Korpi.
I don't suppose you've ever tried actually talking to us with that sort of tone about the issue, have you? I mean, I personally love Math to begin with, so dropping your class didn't even cross my mind- I truely enjoy being challenged. I can understand why others might have been intimidated, however. Perhaps, in hopes that the students are understanding, some would not be so quick to fill out "schedule correction forms" if you approached the manner in a way similar to the way you have chosen to blog about it.

Lacking experience, I admit that I probably don't have the most reliable advice to offer. It is just a thought, though.