One-Room Schoolhouses always seem so romantic in Little House on the Prairie. Laura grows up to become a teacher, learning her way through teaching kids almost as old as she is. Cutting-edge, frontier stuff. It's a lot harder in real life.
The teacher of the 7th graders at my tutoring agency quit. Some other kids of hers quit at the same time, as did some of my students. Such are the vicissitudes of Summer. But the agency likes to have at least six kids in the room at one time. Which means that we had to combine those students with mine. I had two 9th-graders, an 8th-grader and a very smart 7th-grader, now combined with a struggling 9th-grader a 7th grader, and a 6th grader. Today was my first day of the one-room schoolhouse.
This is very hard to do. Previously they had all been one class. But there were so many, they brought me on to teach the overflow, and like roads in a yellow wood, the classes diverged. I've been working on reading The Giver, grammar from Strunk & White, and literary analysis essay preparation. They've been doing spelling bees and working on a persuasive essay. So today was like playing basketball and bowling at the same time. (And as anyone who's familiar with Obama's campaign knows, you can only be good at one or the other.) Both classes read a chapter of The Giver together. I assigned brainstorming to the lower division class while I had an open discussion with the upper division class. When one student is falling asleep and not doing his work, I have to constantly remind him to do so, as I have the discussion. Then we all discuss how to outline, which is review for the upper division, and I discuss what the approach to the paper will be for the upper division while the lower division has to outline negative arguments to their proposal. Vocabulary is easier as we all run hangman drills together.
Tomorrow will be interesting. I plan to have a lion tamer in the first ring, two trapeze artists in the second, and clowns in one of those scary tiny cars in the third.