I went into my classroom at Rosedale Middle School on Thursday this week. I like going in on Mondays or Thursdays because Mr. Ziegler has labs set up for the students to complete. I must say that I am extremely impressed that he is able to work out these labs the way he does also, because each of the classes is only around 42 minutes, and some of them have up to 35 students in them. This Thursday, we were focusing on viscosity. One of the first things he and I did was come up with bellwork questions for the students to work on. And those were hard questions to choose.
Basically, how this works is at the board Mr. Ziegler has the focus, objectives, and bellwork for the class. The bellwork is for the students to complete while everyone is filing into the classroom to get them going. It consists of 2 questions, usually questions summing up what was completed during the week. But this past week and the beginning of next week they are having their checkpoint tests (ours being on Monday). And so what we did was look over the checkpoint material to figure out what the class had covered and what they had not. I was amazed at how much material these teachers are expected to cover in a short time period, especially with the short time that they have (and a good 10 minutes of that is spent dealing with roll call, late students, discipline, etc). We were trying to figure out a question that we could ask them of something they had not learned yet, but the trick to doing that is if it’s a difficult concept or topic, then you take 10 minutes of the class teaching and explaining the bellwork, which then cuts into your lab time! I had only been there for 10 minutes and I felt overwhelmed and EXTREMELY frustrated. I applaud all of the teachers for putting up with this, I can only imagine what it’s like to deal with this every school year.