I’d love to get to teaching, but…

September 24th, 2009 | Filed under: preservice, teaching

I’m finishing up my third week of student teaching and we have yet to start studying literature thanks to an intense schedule of standardized tests, writing and reading assessments, and orientations for freshmen.

We’re in the throes of the Stanford 10 test right now and the entire next week is shot. We may have time for teaching toward the end of each block, depending on how quickly students complete the test sections, but nothing guaranteed. My cooperating teacher and I have had one day of uninterrupted teaching since school started on Sept. 8.

Maybe this is typical, but I’m really blown away by what the freshmen are having to go through in their English classes at the beginning of the year. Here are just a few of the things:

– First day of school housekeeping
– Freshman orientation
– Writing assessment
– Reading assessment (on laptops, which included a lot of set up and clean up time)
– Library media center orientation
– Stanford 10 testing

I was warned that everything that kids have to get done happens in English class because everyone has to take English, but seriously?

When I tell people I’m an English teacher, some like to make the annoyingly broad comment “Good! Cuz kid’s can’t read and write worth a hoot these days,” or something similar. Next time I hear that I might joke it’s because we don’t actually get to teach English half the time.

This isn’t to say I haven’t been learning a tremendous amount in the first few weeks of my internship – mainly classroom management. I have a few students that are going to be a challenge for me, management-wise, and I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with them.

I’m also struggling with how to assert myself within the dynamic of cooperating teacher / student teacher. The longer we spend with me in an assisting role, which is all I can really do in these weeks of testing, the longer it will take students to see me as THE teacher.

So that’s why I haven’t had much to update. I did have a great conversation with my journalism students today about the media and whether it reflects what we the people care about, or rather if we care about issues because the media covers it in such a way that makes us care about it. I was so excited by their excitement during the discussion that I let the time get away from me, though. I was quite embarrassed when my cooperating teacher came back to the class to find I hadn’t moved very far through the chapter. Oops! Pacing is something I’ll need to work on.

I’m still researching options for putting the student newspaper online. If you have any ideas, please share! We’re obviously on a limited (maybe nonexistant?) budget for this. So far I’ve looked at HighSchoolJournalism.org(free!), SchoolNewspapersOnline.com(so expensive!), and WordPress.

I also set up a wiki for the journalism students. To start, we’re just using the discussion forum as a place for students to read and respond to news articles, but I’m hoping to do more with it soon.

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Student Teaching Week 1

September 13th, 2009 | Filed under: preservice, teaching, technology

I couldn’t think of a more exciting title for this post because, to tell you the truth, the first week of classes wasn’t very exciting. Trust me, I had a great time and I’m excited about getting to work with the students, but the first week was full of paper work, book distribution, locker combinations, student information sheets, course expectations, a fire drill, a pep rally and one epic two-hour blackout thanks to a record-breaking rainstorm on the first day of classes. I sat at the front of the class with a flashlight under my chin.

A few lessons I’ve learned so far:

1. I need to perfect strategic bathroom breaks – 90 minutes is a long time.
2. Most teachers don’t eat. I’m trying not to become one of them with healthy breakfasts and lunches each day.
3. Proximity and eye contact work wonders.
4. Err on the side of belaboring the point with students rather than run the risk of leaving some behind. I really need to work on this.
5. Study halls are quite boring on the first week of school.

I had a chance to lead a discussion about the themes of the course with two blocks of students – two very different blocks of students. The first group I worked with started a vibrant discussion among one another – they weren’t just talking to me, they were talking with one another. But the next group, which was the first block of the day, really struggled with explaining, discussing and understanding the themes.

That’s about the only teaching I’ve done, but next week I’ll be easing into more duties and hopefully by week three I’ll be making my own plans. I’m being observed for the first time by my university supervisor and I’m more than a little nervous.

I have all 9th graders for world literature. The high school where I’m teaching houses the school system’s global studies and foreign language academy and all of my students are a part of the academy. I have one class, Journalism I & II, of both academy and non-academy students.

And I had an exciting moment with two of my students – they remembered me from my practicum experience last year when they were 8th graders!

My favorite part of the week so far was standing outside the door welcoming students into the class – using their names when I remembered them. It felt very teacher-y. And we showed Obama’s speech on Tuesday during the journalism course which made for a fitting discussion of the media coverage surrounding the event.

My cooperating teacher and I are interested in developing online writing portfolios for the 9th grade and journalism students, but I’m not sure of the best way to go about it. Wikis? The school system uses Microsoft Sharepoint. Any recommendations would be great!

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