Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Day Fifteen!

Today was the last day that Anne is going to be gone, as she comes back tomorrow from Florida – so my last day of actually being a “full time” teacher.

Overall, my take away, I know I am skipping ahead here, is that I made it. I completed four full days of teaching, taking over all of Anne’s classes and my tenth graders from Kristin. It was a good time and I survived. At times it was not the most polished or exciting teaching, but I got through it and I think it was more helpful for me to be there than a sub. At the end of the day I was not exhausted, but instead I was energized and ready to take it on again. After school I met with six seniors to go over their career project and have individual conferences. I really enjoy collaborating, challenging, and getting to know students on a different level outside of the confines of the classroom.

I felt like I was changing the world one student at a time. I was working hard, putting my best effort out there and moving forward. It was just a good day. The Honors students, who are fantastic and I can see why student teachers are not allowed to teach them (we would be spoiled and have a jaded view of reality) were amazing today. They worked really hard and we did not get through all the material, but I felt like they are now prepared for their fishbowl tomorrow.

The tenth graders plunged through Macbeth once again. It is so much fun helping them understand a text that at face value seems really hard, but then again no one said school or Shakespeare would be easy – right? I really started to use the “Think-Pair-Share” method throughout my teaching with this class and it has worked really well. I ask a question, have them write it down, then partner up answer the same question again or modify their original answer, and then we discuss it as a group.

The seniors were a lot of fun to teach. We got through one part of the lesson plan, although I truly wish we would have gotten through more than just the one part. However, what we did was watch part of a movie and then we spent most of the rest of the period discussing it. Where do I draw the line between moving them through the content and discussing the content? I think this is something I will struggle with especially with these students as seniors in a college prep class. One thing I was happy about with them was how much of the lesson I did without a lesson plan. Usually I am the guy walking into class with all the notes in order, ready to go, lesson plan in hand. Not to say that I did not plan or that I did not have a clue as to what I was doing – because I did – it’s just that I taught without having to be tied to a physical sheet of paper that told me what I was doing and what to say. In the future I look forward to teaching more based on the outline at the front of the class and knowing my material inside and out rather than being tied to a sheet of paper. I struggle with how much these students push me. I want to push back, but how do I ask hard, relevant, and compelling questions in the classroom to make their learning increase? I believe I am asking good, deep, probing questions; however, I would really like some feedback from them (which I will ask at the end of the unit).

Finally the ninth graders were a ball of fun today – and I mean literally. They were a little crazy, for some reason, but I got them on track after a little motivation. I struggle with this class in particular how to motivate students individually motivate students, as in a one-on-one conferencing session, and make sure that the rest of the class is on task. I feel that some times, today in particular, that the students were off task whenever I bent down to have individual conferences. How do I motivate individually while quieting the entire class?

Overall, it was a great day in my book. I survived and that was the most important part. Plus, looking at the whole experience I grew so much over the time that I spent alone without Anne there to guide me every step of the way, which she does not do but you know what I mean. She was not in the classroom, the students could not go to her for help – I was the show and that’s it. At times it was very nerve wracking, like how cluttered my desk got, and at other times it was incredible to be in relationship to all those students in one day. I honestly cannot imagine how Anne and Kristin give up their classes to a student teacher. I would miss the relationship aspect the most, and they have both told me this. I should work in some way within each class for them to continue to interact with the students – or is that not the purpose of student teaching? Should the class be entirely the student teacher’s? Should the cooperating teacher just sit in the back and work on other work for other classes? Or should it be something where I should involve the cooperating teacher when I can, like adding comments to feedback, helping facilitate small group discussion during work time, and other minor duties like that? I do not think I could sit back and watch someone else teach the students that I have worked so hard over the past semester to form relationships with and let someone else teach. That would be so hard – So how do I engage them while still continuing a healthy balance inside the classroom. I should still be in control, but what do they want to do? Do they want to participate, help out, and remain connected with the students? I would think so; I’ll have to ask them, but for now I should see if I can keep them connected to the class in some way. Also because come April 10 I am done, sadly enough, and student teaching will be over. So they will be taking back over the class, so they need to remain an active part of the students’ lives, at least at the beginning of the student teaching period and at the end.

I understand that I asked a lot of questions in this post and I’m assuming that there are not really great answers to any of them. However, if anyone has good ideas or insights to share I would be more than happy to accept them. Re-capping, it was a great time taking over all the classes. I learned a lot and I am excited to tell Anne everything that with the students we accomplished together.