Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day Thirteen!

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 at school I was once again teaching all of Anne’s classes (minus the seniors) and the 10th graders from Kristin’s load too. It was a very full day that started off with the ninth grade honors students. We watched a really cool video from YouTube that talks about how the students of today’s world are considered a “Lost Generation,” but how they can change that if they want and really cause world change. Click here to watch it. We discussed the video after and what they thought about the structure, as it goes through one time and then goes back the second time reading the same words – only backwards. We started to talk about creating world change and what that really looks like today and then they did something I have never even considered before. They asked for time to write about what they thought. So, I gave them time to write, respond, and discuss their thoughts. We had spent time before writing and discussing, but something here in our discussion triggered a thought inside their head and they just wanted some more time to process. I gave it to them and the results were amazing. What they wrote about, how to change the world one person and one interaction at a time was amazing – and they were the ones that asked for the assignment. It really reminded me of the teacher’s role in a 21st Century education – the guide. I provided the stimulation, the guidance and then they ran with it. They created the interaction, the actual learning, and they asked to further their learning by working through a difficult assignment. It was incredible to watch and guide them today.

In tenth grade we have begun acting out Macbeth in the classroom and I think it is going really well – well so does Kristin. I actually have the students get up in front of the class and read out parts and then we discuss what is going on. I have really made it a point to stop each and every page of the play and discuss what is going on. Further, I make sure to relate parts of the play to their actual lives. It is so much fun seeing them understand Shakespeare, and not only understand it, but truly enjoy the experience. At one point I was even making fun of myself in front of the class and the students loved it. One thing I look forward to trying, and would change in my teaching style in the future, would be to do more group or individual activities. Meaning, when we are discussing the play I ask questions of the whole class, and I usually do a good job calling on people from all across the room, but I need to allow them to talk to their neighbor, work in small groups, or individually figure out the question. They cannot rely on the “smart kids of the class who always have an answer” to save them all the time. At some point they need to start figuring it out on their own. So I need to help facilitate that learning from them in the future.

My seniors, who I did not teach today, are just amazing. It is so much fun to work with them, because I remember where they are at right now. Currently they are working on a career project that requires them to interview 2-3 people that they know and then write a summary – response paper detailing what they learned and if that is truly the career that they want to travel down in the future. What has been really neat is how they have come to me for help, support, and guidance. It has been a different relationship meeting with these students outside the class and helping them one-on-one. I have really enjoyed getting to know them in this different way – one that I have not worked as hard on as a student teacher so far.

In my normal ninth grade classroom my students were hard to keep on task today. For some reason, maybe it was the water or the air or something; they were a little squirrely for a Thursday. However, I finally got them on task while I helped a few individuals with their introductions and finishing other assignments for out Assignment ~ Change the World paper. However, when I get them on task they just keep on truckin’ through the paper one step at a time. I am a little nervous for how next week and their first paragraphs go, but that is next week. We have to get through one more day before then. I have learned that I need to constantly encourage them throughout the process, whereas my seniors just go to work. Freshman = constant encouragement and hand holding (most of them at least) and Seniors = the exact opposite (same exception applies).

After school today I rushed back to the apartment to go to a group activity with the rest of the Wartburg West students, all 20 of us. We went down to the Curious Theater to view the production of Rabbit Hole. This was a wonderfully written, produced, and moving drama. It is about a four year old boy that dies in an accident and the grief that ensues after the incident. It looks at the relationship of the husband and wife, their relationship with the person who killed their son, and other intricate family relationships. I must say that it was really well written, to the point of including some very poignant and humorous parts throughout the production. It was really refreshing to see a play that chronicles a very important and difficult time in a person’s life – right after the death of a loved one – displayed so eloquently. Looking at this production and other events going on in my life, I began to realize that even though I had hours of schoolwork and preparations to go before tomorrow – I need to be able to put school aside and require other elements of my life to be more important.

What I mean is that being a student, and a student teacher especially, I do not have a lot of activities and family that I go home to every day. Right now my life is mostly centered on my experience at AHS and finishing up some Wartburg school work, which ultimately keeps me busy enough. However, I have not kept a healthy balance between me and my AHS life – maintaining a life outside of my student teaching that is. I came to learn tonight that sometimes there are just things that are way more important than teaching – like family members. (Note: I know that these next few lines may be something that don’t exactly fit within the confines of this blog, but stick with me and I’ll give you a point). So my dad informed me today that our family pet, a dog, was put down after sixteen years with my family. Kara had been a faithful friend and a loving member of our family from day one, however health complications in the last few years have caused her to slow up and have issues that complicated her life. So in the best interest of all parties involved, my parents made the hard decision to put her down. I got a text from my dad, during the intermission of Rabbit Hole, about her passing, which naturally made that drama a little harder. I will be honest, at first I thought that the absence of a pet would not have a large effect on me, as I have not lived at home for an extended amount of time in four years, but I was wrong. Now here’s the point and lesson I have learned through her passing, treasure the time that you have with pets, family, and in the classroom, because you won’t always have that time with them. Students come and go either five times a week or three times a week, depending on the situation. There’s only fifty-nine minutes, in my case, to make that difference and to treasure that interaction. However, I really did not know how much I would miss my pet until she was gone. May it be a reminder to me, and hopefully to others as well, to treasure the things you have currently, because you do not really realize how much you’ll miss them until they are gone. For me currently that’s my dog, but I know in the near future when student teaching is over it will be the daily interactions with the students and staff at AHS.