Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day Twelve!

Today was the first day I was truly on my own. Anne is currently gone at a conference and finishing up a graduate school project – so I took over all of her classes, plus one of Kristin’s (so four different preps and five classes in a row). It was quite a day of running around, teaching, connecting with students, and really understanding the material.

In English 9 Honors I really tried to be very focused and by the book in my discussion of the text, but it turned out that the off the cuff, going with the flow discussion skill that I think all Language Arts teachers develop finally came in handy. That was a whole lot more interesting than me going off my notes for the entire period. What was interesting was that I went with the flow and ended back in the same spot where I wanted to be. Plus, now I finally teach, while Anne is gone, two sections of the same class. That has really given me the confidence to actually change things for the second section, in a better way, than the first section. It is a nice challenge for the next couple of days taking over all of Anne’s classes and the one of Kristin’s.

Needless to say that tonight when I spoke to Anne, via Skype (oh the wonders of technology and communication) we discussed take aways and thoughts for the day. One thing for me was that there is this student in my sixth period class that I have lately had a really hard time getting through to. He does not want to get his work done on time or in class and rarely asks for help. Instead he will just sit there and usually cause trouble. Today he explained to me that he did not understand last night’s assignment and so we walked through the different parts, I had him repeat them for me, and then I double checked to make sure that he got everything ok. Well it appeared, with how he started working, that he understood it. Then I receive an e-mail tonight from him (what did teachers do before e-mail and replying to student concerns at home?) and it turns out that he really did not understand the assignment like he thought he did. However, he has asked for additional help, which I will gladly give.

One other idea – take what you are given and actually make the most out of the opportunity. I hope that each day I am at AHS I am making the most out of the opportunity in everything that I do. In the classroom I push my students to succeed through rigorous and relevant content that is centered on the relationships that faculty members establish with each student. What is interesting about this idea is that Anne is gone for the next few days. She encouraged me to “take on this week as an example of what teaching is” (Smith). So if that means that I have no time, rush from activity to activity, and class to class then that’s what I am looking for (If how tired I am and how much I have worked are two indicators of my future career, then I am definitely going to challenge this ideal of an easy life of teaching I had in my head). On top of all that, it is my job to teach these students one student and one class at a time. I need to take this amazing opportunity to live the life of a real teacher over the next few days. However, I need to do more than just survive. I need to push myself and really see what I am made of, especially in teaching new classes. Teaching is much more than just delivering a lesson, which a sub can do any day, but it is meeting the students where they are every day. I just hope in these few days that I am not just delivering content, but that I am actually teaching.

My final thought for tonight also comes from Anne, ”It is an everyday journey with these kids, changing the world all at the same time” (Smith). Education is a journey, one that every morning I need to wake up and remember. I am changing, becoming a better teacher, and I love what I am doing. It’s a challenge, like today, but it also has some very good perks too (the students and the summers off come immediately to mind). My ninth graders are writing a five paragraph position paper, which at first seemed like a good idea, but now the bar has been raised and they have to change the world. As teachers, we have, quite an opportunity on our hands every day to make a difference. Remember: It’s all a journey and we’ll all in this together!