Education Opinion

Getting under way...

By Ilana Garon — September 09, 2012 2 min read
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Hello readers! I thought it would be a good idea, in this post, to explain who I am and what I’m about. So, my name’s Ilana. (Nice to meet you!) I’m 31. I love competitive running, fresh bakery bread, and medium-length walks through Central Park. As you can see from my bio, I teach English (ELA) at a public high school in the Bronx. This year, I am THE 10th grade English teacher in our small school of approximately 500 students, which means that every single 10th grade student has the unparalleled joy of attending my class at some point during the day. ☺

We began school this past Thursday with a series of programming snafus, which always happens at the beginning of the year. At Friday morning’s count I had around 120 students. However, that did not include two groups of special education students who--after having been in a “self-contained” class last year (meaning, they were taught in a classroom made up of exclusively special education students)--are now being mainstreamed into my 4th and 5th period classes; for some reason, they have not appeared on my roster yet. So I believe my actual number of students will be around 145, when all is said and done. Our classes are capped at 34; my largest has 33 students.

The kids will be taught over five periods, daily: two of those periods are “inclusion” classes (the ones into which the special education students are being mainstreamed with general education students, and taught in collaboration with a special education teacher and paraprofessionals), one honors-level class, and two more regular, general education classes. Our school uses a staggered schedule; teachers are on the Early, Middle or Late shifts. I’m on Late--periods 3-10--so I start teaching at 9:10am, and finish at 3:55pm.

Tenth period is 3:09-3:55, and boy, do the kids hate having class then. There are only 10 students in my 10th period class--any kids who had an option of not staying through 10th immediately got their schedules changed so that they could leave earlier--and, in a school with truancy problems, I can already see I’m going to have to get creative in thinking of incentives for them not to skip my class. This can include everything from crawling into a shelving unit in order to demonstrate prepositional phrases, as I did Friday (“Where am I? In the shelf! Under the shelf! Now I’m climbing out, and I’m above the shelf!”), to leaving space in my lessons so we can incorporate art, music, and other media. And treats: mini candy-bars from Rite Aid have been known to solve many a problem.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading, and welcome back to school!

The opinions expressed in View From the Bronx: An Urban Teacher’s Perspective are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.