We've had students for two days now, but since we're on an A/B block schedule we really have two "first days" of school. The very first thing I have students do is fill out a short survey while I take the initial roll. The questions get at their attitudes to school, how they learn, what they think about history, and things like that. It finishes up by asking for three things that I can do as a teacher to help them learn and then three things they can do as a student. This year I'm using that to help lead into the discussion of classroom commitments.
I notice that many of my students (especially my sophomores) talk about time and pacing. Asking for me to not go too fast, give them enough time to understand or to complete work, things like that. This makes me sad. Sad because if I am overwhelmed by all the material in the 10th grade world history curriculum and how to "cover" it before May, I know it has to be worse for them. Sad because it makes me feel like I'm doomed from the start. I know it's a reasonable thing for them to say, just like I know that a reasonable pace with my material would involving cutting 1/3 of it out.
There has got to be a better way. I'm pretty seriously thinking about using some examples, like the World History for us all curriculum and the Reading Like a Historian stuff, and completely reorganizing my first quarter. I didn't want to attempt that kind of structural change while prepping a new course this year, but I'm becoming more and more convinced that it's necessary. Once I get to the Industrial Revolution I feel more ok, since our pacing guide gives us more time on that material and students come to it with more prior knowledge. It's the beginning of the year where I feel so rushed and that needs to change.