Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day Twenty!

Today was an ok day of teaching and working with students. It just seems some days that there is always more you can do to make the experience better. There’s more support you can find, more assistance with the material, more lesson planning, more personal learning, a different method to make everything make sense for the students – just something else as a teacher I can do to make my experience better for the students. Overall, I was happy with how things went, but disappointed that I did not do more. The problem is, though, at what cost does that doing more mean? Do I cut more into my sleep, prep time for other classes, or life here in Denver? Where is the balance? I thought that I put out ok material for my students, but it was not my best work. That frustrates me, so I will use this feeling as a point of comparison and encouragement to make other days more successful and so that I can have a little bit better feeling inside that it was truly a successful day.

The 10th graders were a lot of fun today. For some reason because it is Monday students have a hard time waking up by the time third hour rolls around – I don’t criticize because sometimes I feel like I would like to be in bed sleeping too. However, today was one of those days where they were a little sluggish on the uptake. The first half of the lesson they were really slow with answers and completely unengaged in the conversation. But then I did an engaging activity that required them to get up and move around the room. They were so much more awake and they worked hard for the rest of the period. It was also a great activity because the students were able to use their imagination on how to portray a film version of Macbeth, which led directly into one of the film versions and provided a great transition.

I went from there off to my seniors. I really enjoy this class, but at times feel like I am not challenging them enough. For instance, today one of the things we covered was a few more cantos from Dante’s Inferno. We put the whole class together and at points Anne would jump into the question to add a comment or ask another question. It was a little weird because I was leading the discussion and then she would ask a question from outside of the circle and the students, at least in my perception, were a little confused as to who was leading the discussion. Was I or was Anne? I know she did this with the best intentions, and it was helpful in the long run because I was struggling with some of their questions; however, is it better to let me learn from the mistake of not asking that question or ask the question in front of the rest of the seniors? I feel like I might have lost a little credibility as their teacher, and I mean that in the nicest way because it is not like I really have a lot of credibility with them anyway. Would it have been more effective to pull me aside after class and just go over those questions she asked and see why I did not ask them? Or at least, this is my fault, talk about her decision of jumping in. Anne wants the best educational experience for her students, which I really value, but how far does that go? I think I just need to go over the big questions I have for class with her, or I can look at her notes, ask questions, and understand the main ideas of the text before I move on. I will work harder on planning and asking higher order thinking questions to really engage my seniors in the discussion. That is my goal coming out of today. Life I may have reflected before, everything in a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class seems really rushed. We covered most of what I wanted to cover today, but still left a little behind, which resulted in a little more homework for the students over two days. What I perceive to be a college level amount of homework since this is a college prep class it is only fitting.

My eleventh graders, and this is now my second time ever teaching them, were really quiet in class today. That was really odd, considering how talkative they have been in the past. It was really funny that I was up in front of the class teaching and getting class started and they were genuinely worried about where Kristin was. The entire time she was sitting in the back taking notes. She had to stand up and introduce herself to the students. Kind of funny on a student teacher level the students were at a loss without their normal leader in front of the class. Kristin reminded me that these students are the ones that will cling to her until I gain a little more trust and respect from them. They were quiet until I go them up and responding to a question I put onto the PowerPoint. They had to physically move to represent where they were on the continuum of choice between strongly agree and disagree. I asked for volunteers to share their answers, and I got a few takers, which included a boy that apparently does not talk a lot in class. That was really exciting and a great way to end the class period.

My ninth graders were really confused today. They are supposed to be figuring out and writing their main body paragraphs today. Well, it turns out that a lot of them do not have the main outline done, much less the paragraph written. So today, because of them and a lot of other things related to the paper (like not having flash drives in class or assignments done) mandated that they must come to class prepared. There is no ifs, ands, or buts in this class. Too bad, the game is over. This paper has taken so long already, it is time we finish it up. So get moving and start writing. Part of their homework for tonight was to respond to a blog post about how they thought the class was going. It will be really interesting to see what they think. If you want to see the post the link is here.

I figured that in addition to my take away of the day I can now add in a little more humorous element to my posts. At least I find them humorous and I hope you do too. They are called my quotes of the day, as written by Kristin as students say them in my classes. So here goes:

In English 10 we were looking up information on Roman Polanski, a famous film director who had a very interesting life. Anyway, one of my students today after looking up information on him said: “What a creeper!”

In American Literature we were writing short responses to a writing prompt about a time when someone did something unfair to you. For example, how men have higher car insurance payments than women. Anyway, a female student said this, “Is this like an essay that we’re writing? Because mine is really not special.” I responded, “I’m sure yours is very special.”

Take Away of the day: There is always room for improvement, but I need to be happy with the good things that happened and allow the rest to be encouragement and inspiration to do a better job in the future.