Pocketful of names

I can view my fall class rosters online now–for both NLNRU and SA.  Since I’m teaching the lower-level class at NLNRU, those names mean little or nothing to me–mostly new students or students working primarily in a different genre.  Actually, the new students mean a little more, since I read their applications to the program.  At SA, however, I have a little more information.  My carpool partner taught eighth grade last year, so I’ve heard of some of the rising ninth graders (class of 2013)–sometimes in a good way, but not always!  I have some memory of the kids who are taking honors English, too, because I read those applications in the spring. 

And then there’s an entirely different group of students I “know”–the ones whose older sisters and brothers I’ve already taught.  I had just one student last year whose brother was in the cohort (class of 2011) I inherited when I began in the middle of my first year, and that was pure pleasure because both sister and brother are very intelligent and a bit quirky in a very nice way.  This year I’m getting a much larger batch of younger siblings–it might be that as many as 15% of my students this fall will be siblings of former students.  I will, of course, try to avoid the silly or even hurtful remarks that some teachers make when comparing siblings, but I know I’m going to be noticing.  Also, I’m imagining that just as “Kids from the X Family” is a partially known quantity to me, I am a partially known quantity to the X Family.  I’m not so grandiose as to think that they are sitting around at dinner every night discussing the older one’s English teacher, but I’m also not so naive as to think that the older one hasn’t told the younger one–or the parents–anything about me at all.  Of course, I’ve changed a lot (I think) in the high-school classroom since I began teaching the ’11 cohort, so the info may not be as accurate as they think!

So the new experiences continue.  I have only ninth graders for the fall–my desire to cut back some at SA coincided with some extra manpower in the English department (because my colleague who left had only part of her appointment in English and her replacement is a full-timer), so I’m not teaching eleventh-grade AP after all.  Too bad, as my first year doing it really was pretty successful, and I am interested in doing the course again.  Having done it last year will, though, provide me with another new experience, that of being asked for college recommendation letters.  I had 22 eleventh-graders between AP and my elective; I’m guessing maybe a third of them will ask for recs?  That’s just a guess, but I can certainly think of six or seven for whom I could write a really great, rousing, student-rose-to-the-challenge letter.  (I hope those are the ones who ask!)

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Are you cutting back only in terms of preps, or are you actually going to be part-time at SA now that you’re doing more at NLNRU?

    Last year I wrote 16 college letters, which took far more time than I’d anticipated; I’m really hoping that the number is fewer this year. Only two students have asked me thus far, and I’m happy to write for both of them.

    I’ve now had a few younger siblings, and of course I try to treat them as distinct students and not a younger version of their older sisters (which hasn’t been hard, since in every case they’ve had different personalities) … but I’ve been surprised by the extent to which the younger ones mentioned the older ones to me, inviting conversation about their families. Of course, as always, being a girls’ school may lead to a very different dynamic.

    Reply

  2. Posted by meansomething on August 16, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    I’m actually cutting back the number of classes at SA (going down to the minimum required for benefits eligibility). When I first asked about doing this for a year, they thought they might be able to accommodate a small cutback, but it turns out it’s easier than they thought. I’m sure this is something that we’ll have to renegotiate next year–and of course I’m not sure what I’ll want next year, anyway. Why am I willingly splitting myself between two institutions when I don’t have to? The short answer is that this is a year of interesting growth and change at NLNRU and I think I have a lot to contribute–as do they, apparently. I think there is a danger of SA perceiving me as not fully on board; on the other hand, they seem to like it that I teach at NLNRU. I’m figuring it out as I go along. No doubt there will be more posts on this topic!

    Reply

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