Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day Twenty-Two!

Today was a good day, and I really mean it this time. It was a successful day of teaching and I am really happy with how today went.

My 10th graders are still studying Macbeth and I decided to connect the story with a relevant text from society. It turned out to be a great activity that really sparked a lot of good conversation. I really enjoyed hearing what the students thought and seeing where they went with their ideas. I then turned the discussion towards the text and they made the connection really easily. It was a great transition and the students really stayed with me throughout the whole period. We discussed their acting company projects in class, which also went well. One thing I did want to bring up here was that yesterday a group of students told me that I was assigning a lot of daily homework. I thought this was a little crazy, especially since I plan daily with Kristin. I conferred with her and to lighten the load on both the students and on grading for myself, I have decided in this class to give them a more comprehensive project that will take them a few nights to complete. It will be due on Friday of that week, so as to reduce the amount of grading I have to do too. This was a good compromise to meet with the students on homework, while also listening to their concerns.

My seniors today were finishing up and tying together their unit on Hell and the afterlife. It was a good period that I felt a lot more prepared for than previous periods (probably because I did a lot more outlining and looking at the material than before. It just seemed like a good idea after how I felt Monday’s class went). The main point, even though I wanted to discuss these elements further, was that they start connecting the dots between the different texts. What I did find a little frustrating was that for homework I did assign three texts to read, which I will give them was a little much. Although, in college this is exactly how it is going to be, and then plus more because then they will have to read over 100 pages in just under 48 hours. Thirty pages should not be that hard in my book. Then again, these students are not freshman in college, so I may have hit my wall today with them. I pushed them a lot. I got them to the edge and probably passed it. Now I know where the limit is, so I do not have to test it. Expectations are just going to have to be redefined come next unit so that they know that 40 pages of reading for the next class is not a big deal. They can handle that, so they will have to start getting that expectation into their heads. Overall, though, their class went well and I handed out their essay writing prompts for their in-class essay on Friday. We’ll see how that goes.

My juniors today were a little rambunctious to say the least. They were complaining about the smallest things, trying to get their class in whatever way they could, and just plain being rude overall. At times it was really disappointing. These students, some of them, have had Kristin for now two years and are very attached. Having a new teacher stand up and teach the class can be an adjustment. This happens in all classes where there is a student teacher present; however, I think that this is going to be one of the hardest transitions of power. After school Kristin and I talked about setting expectations right for class on Friday and the rest of the week. Hopefully this will alleviate the stress and behavior issues related to this class.

Finally, my last period of the day I had my freshman. Today, like I wrote about yesterday, those that did not have their introduction and paragraph one had to sit in the hallway with Smith and get their work done. It looked like an interesting atmosphere out in the hall, but inside the classroom I was focused on the students that completed their assignment. I walked them through the paragraph structure and introduction structure in two separate accounts. It was a little chaotic at times in the room, but students were focused and had fun editing each other’s papers. It was a good experience for me as a teacher to have and see the students participate. Tomorrow we move on to the second body paragraph, we’ll see how this one comes out in the coming days.

Quote of the Day: 10th Grade Discussion Time
Randon: (female student), you’re giving me a weird look.
(Female student): No, I’m giving (male student) a weird look.

Take away: My desire to learn more has never been stronger. I want to absorb as much as I can, get to other classrooms and watch other teachers in other departments as well as Language Arts, which has gotten increasingly harder with more students needing individual help, but I am there for the students first, and my attitudes toward criticism and thoughts on feedback. My student teaching supervisor from Wartburg came into my sixth period, 9th graders, today. Tonight we talked about what she saw and gathered from my teaching. She had a lot of good things to say about how comfortable I was in front of the classroom, my lesson planning ability, and specifically my individualized instruction with the students. I make it a point in that class to make it around to all the students to check in with them on their Assignment-Change the World papers. On reflection on that paper, it has taken now just about all of five weeks to get through an introduction and a first body paragraph with ninth graders. That is a little long, and Anne let me know this the other day, and looking back at it I completely agreed with it. What happened to all the time? What have these students been doing lately? Have I not held my line with the schedule or do I need to revise the schedule to get everything in? Was I not pushing them hard enough? Or are they just lazy and do not want to get their work done. I said that it was most likely a combination of both things – the students and my teaching. I realize my teaching at the start particularly was a little weak, but it has come a long way and now I expect more out of myself and especially for these students. It is unacceptable that it has taken this long. So what do I need to do to finish out this paper? Is it a different instructional model, time in class to work, or more individualized instruction? Maybe what I need to do is just have more hard and fast deadlines, like the one yesterday with collecting their introductions and first paragraphs at the beginning of the period. Either way, I am learning from this experience and figuring out how to get everything in. It is a challenge, but I am growing, learning, and loving it all at the same time. My student teaching supervisor also told me that she was very impressed with my “teacher voice” and how comfortable in front of the classroom. She said, “It looks like you are having fun up there,” which I was. It is enjoyable to be in front of the classroom and to get to be there for the students. However, I know that my instruction is good and I am taking the right things into the classroom. Now I want to be hard on myself. I want Anne and Kristin to be hard on me. Specifically, I want them to be critical and to push me so that I continue to grow. I have grown a lot in these past five weeks, but there is still a lot of growth left. So let the learning continue as I watch others teach, meet with instructional coaches, get hard feedback from Anne and Kristin, learn from one-on-one interactions with students, and finally, teaching my heart out every fifty-nine minutes in front of the classroom. Let the learning and growing continue!