As I plan what lessons to start the school year with, I am intrepid about the skill levels of my students. Knowing the class is a resource room/pull-out class, I know the average child in this class will be below grade level, and require remediation, both of skills and strategies, to become competent in math.
However, I also know that due to the state of Michigan's graduation requirements, these same students must be ready for Algebra 1 when they enter high school 1 year from now. Herein lies the balancing act. How much remediation CAN I do, and how much fast can I forget forward into new territory without losing them?
Luckily, I know a couple of the names on my roster and have had them in class before. Others though, are just a face in the hall that I have nothing concrete to attach their skills to in my own mind. I know for some, it is a matter of lack of personal motivation and parental support that place them into the resource room setting. For others, it is a true math disability.
Another balancing act - trying to find ways to motivate the uninspired, while working the shore up the missing foundation pieces for all of them, while working individually with the true math disabled students to create new learning paths to overcome their weaknesses.
Looking at my teacher's guide, looking at the grade level content expectations for 8th graders, I wonder how far back in instruction I need to go before we head into new material. How many days will it take realistically to get to the real nitty gritty of 8th grade material?
Digging deeply for fun, motivating activities to review concepts, I hope we can glide through the first few weeks, me trying to herd them into the realm of grade level material, before too much of the school year has gone by. Sketching out lesson plans, hitting the high spots, not knowing what to expect, I know to write these in pencil!
As my room comes together, starting to look and feel more like home, as I plan for these first few days/weeks with my students, I feel the excitement building, knowing that THE KIDS ARE COMING!! THE KIDS ARE COMING! and knowing that once they walk in the building next Tuesday, everything somehow just falls into place, and I am looking forward to another school year :)