This is year six. I've taught academic (on level) classes for every year prior. It's what I know, and what I really enjoyed. Last year I took a random assortment of on level kids on a crazy experiment and they blew me away.
The world is different now. In what started as a quest to attempt Pivot Algebra II on a single PreAP class, I'm now knee deep in AP and PreAP. I have 154 students in 5 classes (2 Calc, 3 PreCal). The first week was, strange.
- PreCal numbers are 34, 36, 36, the largest classes I've ever taught, and yet the size has not been a problem
- despite the giant size, every PreCal class exhibits laser focus when requested
- upon my encouragement, 8 of my on level kids from Algebra II signed up for the PreAP experience, they hold their own and are teaching the PreAP lifers around them how to do stuff, I almost cried when one suggested something might be failing due to the presence of complex numbers
- Calculus students who had me for on level Pre Cal shared in my amazement at how quiet my classroom can be when it's time for business while the lifers looked at them strange "what do you mean, class was loud?"
- said Calculus students who had me for on level almost disowned me when I told them homework was a regular part of an AP class
- secretly, I don't care for the whole PreAP distinction and don't use it on tests or my objectives area, I think that designation gets corrupted by teachers who use it as at excuse for bad teaching, excessive homework, and general "this is what it's like in COLLEGE" bullcrap
- my in class support is far more advanced, WAY fewer students need help getting started on classwork, and anyone with a question starts it with "well this is what I tried and I THINK this the problem but SHE says it could be..." while I get a little wide-eyed and then examine their work
- in but two sessions of classwork, I've already settled half a dozen PreCal arguments about equation solving methods, with both parties having strong cases
- in those two sessions of PreCal classwork, out of nowhere someone would ask "so it's homework if we don't finish, right?" as I had to take pause and then say "no, that's not really my thing"
- the students were totally ok if they ran into something weird on an assignment and there wasn't an exact example to follow
Classroom Management wise, it's like we're closer to Columbus Day than Labor Day. I'm not totally used to this yet. The thing that makes me excited though, is finding ways to step up my own game and challenge them in ways they haven't seen before. Already, applying what I learned from the Pivot project is going well. I helped stamp out the misconception that quadratic solutions ALWAYS involve the x-axis.
I'm liking it here in bizarro world.