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Chuck's column: A chance for a fresh start

Well, that was fast. Kinda. Even though I'm writing this before Thanksgiving, you're reading it a week later and we've just finished Trimester One. And most of us survived it, unscathed. Personally, I have read and graded over 200 essays and 350 student poems. I can't begin to tally the quizzes and tests.

It's no wonder I wear glasses.

Many of you probably aren't aware of what happens during the final week of a trimester. It's normally two days of last-minute instruction or review if the teacher deems it so, and then Wednesday and Thursday of the week are dedicated to two-hour blocks of testing time for each class. On the first day, the even classes test; second, fourth and sixth hour classes are held twice as long and students take the final in each course. On the second day, the odd hour classes hold tests. Again, that would be first, third and seventh. Because fifth hour involves lunch, that class meets both days for its normal amount of minutes. You can mess with just about anything else but you can't mess with fifth hour. Sacred stuff, dude.

Then, the students are off that Friday while teachers are in the building, mostly to finalize first trimester and to prepare for Monday when the second trimester will begin. Frankly, it's rather crazy. Our grades have to be in the first Tuesday morning of Trimester Two by 7:30. Failure and Incomplete letters have to be filled out and submitted by then as well. I can't speak for my peers, but I spend the weekend finishing grading and also thinking about the first day of the trimester about to begin.

And then December opens its doors.

Trimester Two is always a blur at the start. It's three quick weeks, and we're home enjoying the holidays with our loved ones. It's always an opportunity for a fresh start for everyone. It's much like a new season of football or baseball. Teams are all capable of grabbing the Super Bowl or World Series titles. It's all a matter of how you go about your business in the days and weeks ahead of Day One.

For this teacher, it's nice on many levels. First, I am greeted by a batch of new faces in two of my five hours. By week 13 of Trimester One, I'm as anxious to see some faces leave as they are to leave me. We're human. Enough said.

In my creative writing course, I start fresh each time I teach it. This coming trimester, I'll make at least one change from the fall. It's the beauty of the new start. I learn from my mistakes. I recreate that which went well, but try to fix that which didn't work the way I wanted. I try to remind the kids they're all beginning with an A. In every class. Make the most of it. See how long they can keep their A. I never know for sure if I reach them with that mentality or not. I try, however. It's all I can do.

December is a difficult month for kids. I find they seem to be focused on anything but school. I believe the holidays distract most of them. They distract me, frankly. I'm a lover of Christmas. My mother instilled in me a passion for the holiday unlike most people I know. On Nov. 1, I begin listening to Christmas music and putting Christmas specials from my childhood into the DVD player at bedtime.

But this is a topic for another column. Let's just say, " be continued."