Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day Fourteen!

Note: I must apologize to my readers for the tardiness of this post. Life has been a little crazy lately teaching a full load, going to activities in Denver, and traveling with family for the weekend.

Today I once again had a fun time teaching all of Anne’s classes and Kristin’s tenth graders. It was a great day where I finally felt a controlled, comfortable chaos.

Today in all my ninth grade honors classes we did a musical chairs editing activity. Music plays, students walk around and when the music stops they find a chair and edit that essay. It worked really well and thanks to Kristin for the activity. It was really interesting to me to see what the students came up with in their introductions and really fun to once again teach them. In the future when I use this activity I will make sure that they go in an ordered line throughout the room. It got a little chaotic with how they “choose” essays to read by walking back and forth around one set of computers. However, the activity was very valuable as the students all received good feedback from other students.

In tenth grade they were kept busy with taking a vocabulary quiz and completing independent reading. I thought I would have time to get a few minor activities done while they were reading, guess again. Catching other students up and helping those out with mistaken assignments took up the entire time. Late work, absences and make-up work will always be the best part of teaching (I hope you can sense the sarcasm there).

The seniors today finished their presentations on the after life of other cultures. However, I struggle with how to grade projects without a proper rubric. I will have to talk to Anne about it when she returns to AHS on Tuesday. It was nice to see all of them present, but all their presentations were so different from each other it will be interesting to grade. Some used A/V equipment, some did not, some were long, and some were not, and some had awesome material, and some, of course, did not. How do you grade presentations subjectively without ever have giving the assignment or knowing exactly what the person that did, Anne, wanted to achieve from the project? It will be a discussion to have on Tuesday. However, I did notice that students at AHS, well at least my seniors, need to be taught some proper presentation skills. Maybe this is because presentation skills were ingrained in me at a very early age; however, sitting on a desk and talking to the class, reading off PowerPoint slides and presenting from a chair near a computer all should not be allowed or even accepted as good quality work, however most of the groups included all or some of the above elements. In the future, for their last lectures, I will have to cover how to effectively give a presentation, or at least briefly remind them in the future the effective techniques.

Yesterday I thought my ninth graders were off the wall, well today they were on a whole different level all together. They were crazy, off the wall, and unexpected. However, I got them calmed down and on task after a few activities and kicking a favorite student out of my class. Sometimes it takes kicking the ring leader out to help the rest of the class focus, if you know what I mean. On top of that it was an assembly day, which means shortened classes, so that explained a little of the craziness.

Finally the moment arrived, the one where me, the student teacher, rises to the occasion and stepped in front of the whole school and some community members for the annual AHS faculty dance. A few years ago AHS administrators noticed a drop in attendance at the Winter Pep Assembly and recruited a few volunteers to come up with something to get the students to attend (or so that is the version I heard). It has now grown to forty-five teachers, seven songs, and a completely choreographed dance. That’s right – and I was in it! I must say that all the practices we have put in learning the choreography and times that I missed soccer practice were worth it the minute I stepped into that gym of screaming students over 2,200 strong. It was so much fun and an incredible experience all at the same time. I’ll link the video here when a student posts it on YouTube.

Finally, yesterday I wrote about sometimes there are just things that are way more important than teaching – like family members. So after school I got on a plane, thanks to a great pair of awesome grandparents, to fly down to Phoenix and surprise my parents. They are down here celebrating my grandmother’s birthday and I just walked into the condo and surprised my parents. They were pretty excited to see me after just reading my blog and talking to me on the phone these past few months and it has been great to see them. What I have learned, though, is that once again life outside of school does take precedence over school. Family is important and it has been great to have the opportunity and the time to spend with family, and I will definitely be busy come Sunday night and Monday morning when I get back into the groove, but right now it is just a pleasure to be here. School needs to be prioritized at some time; it is a great lesson to be learning right now during my student teaching – where everything fits.

In honor of Anne, and her adventures down in Florida, I will close out today’s post with a revelation, and my take away from the day, in my student teaching experience. The first two days of taking over the class load I have now had for a few days was, and I cannot find a better word, crazy. I was running from room to room and barely knew what I was doing. However, today was “controlled chaos.” I had my ducks in a row, I felt prepared, and I knew what was going to happen and when. It is not that I did not know any of that before, because I did, but it is that today I felt comfortable and in control of my experience. It was a good crazy, a good day of teaching, a good day of meeting with students on an individual basis, a good day of making a fool out of myself in front of the entire school, and a good day of making a difference every fifty-nine minutes.