Fall break is almost upon me. Tomorrow, students will file in to take their midterms. There will be joy and confusion and tears, but mostly there will be relief that we are halfway through the semester. Plus, we get a week off. A very much needed week off.
This semester, like most of the others, has been rough. But this semester has been rough for a completely different reason. I feel like I finally almost have the hang of this teaching thing. I have a schedule for grading papers and writing tests and giving feedback. I know what my lessons are going to be and can just create minor tweaks for the new class. This semester, a lot of that goes out the window.
You see, our district went one-to-one. That means that every student got a laptop this year. And it is great! When it works… There are the usual problems of handing out 1600 new devices to students: the WiFi isn’t powerful enough to support all the devices, not all the software is unblocked on the student devices, the testing software we have doesn’t quite work yet, etc, etc, etc. But it has always changed the way I teach my class, and I’m not really sure how it has changed it yet. I’m stuck in this weird limbo where I want to use the technology but most of my lessons rely on pen and paper. In order to completely change to paperless, I need to redo many of my lessons. I also want to give the students more freedom. Gone are the days where I tell the to create a drawing on a piece of paper. Now they can create something using almost any medium they can find. The challenge is helping them find the resources and guiding them on how to use new software and programs. It’s not easy when I have to do all the leg work first!
On top of all that, I started a graduate program at South Dakota State University in chemistry education. Nothing makes you feel stupid like taking advanced level chemistry classes. This stuff is hard! I mean, I have a pretty good grasp of the content I teach, but suddenly I’m also learning how to calculate the energy change of an electron as it moves from n=1 to n=2. I suddenly have a kinship with my AP students who feel like they are barely keeping their head above water in my class!
So it will be nice to go to Disneyland with my mom and cousin and just relax for a few days. Of course, I also have homework I have to take with me, but I can still enjoy many hours of carefree singing and skipping before I hit the books and dive into the real of the weird.