The ups and downs of week two

I started off this week feeling very indifferent — still caught up in a weird feeling from this weird transition place. Nevertheless, today is Friday (yes!), I survived,  and another week of student teaching is under my belt.

Morning duty, ah yes, the joys of teaching. Actually morning duty doesn’t really bother me. Plus, it was good to “observe” the students and their social interactions. The school has a very interesting myriad of clothing styles I’ve seen walking around during morning duty. I mean talk about a battle of the sub-cultures, ha! Anyway, though the typical response to the infamous “take down your hood/take off your hat please—thank you” comment usually gets a blank stare, a “damnit,” or a glare, this morning one kind gentleman did respond, “Your welcome, ma’am,” and he wasn’t being smart either, just a sincere, genuine, “your welcome.” Take it for what it’s worth — I smiled.

This week I found it hard to avoid my pet peeve. The fact that many students (in General and Dual Enrollment) talk while someone else is talking really bothers me. And it’s not just happening when the teacher is talking. It’s also taking place when their peers are in front of the room talking. (No respect!) See, this week the students were presenting their power points on the history behind Beowulf. And all the students in the class were talking, whether it was their turn to present or not. I finally interjected and said, “Just go ahead and switch to the next slide because clearly the way everyone is talking, they have all the notes.” The kids all stopped and stared, ha. Some whispered more quietly, others stopped completely. Hey, I’ll take what I can get.

Speaking of trying to engage students, one student in particular is on border of failing because he always skips 4th block. The students were supposed to be working on their vocabulary and he just sat there, head down. I walked up carefully to just see what was going on. And his response sort of surprised me. “I’m just not good at this essay stuff. I do physical things with my hands – that’s what I’m good at. I write things and then they just come back all marked up and wrong so it’s stupid for me to try. I have a good job that pays good now without a high school diploma and writing ain’t going to help me when I’m already doin’ just fine.” This kid is so close to graduation. And he’s already given up because I can guarantee most people have already given up on him, too. So I sat and talked to him. Didn’t just listen, but heard him. I pointed out how close he was to graduation, how we all have to do things we aren’t crazy about, and asked him one important question: are you a quitter? He laughed and said, “No way!” Then I just encouraged him to remember that and if anything, graduate for himself, because he’s not a quitter. I walked away…he worked on his vocabularly. Even better, a few minutes later as I was helping another student, I coudln’t help but overhear two of his friends (who are also struggling students) whispering to him, “You know, man, she’s right. Just a few more months and you’ll be done. Hang in there and just do what you gotta do, man.”

As I mentioned before, my room has tons of technology, including enough laptops for every student, but only 6-7 working laptops (which definitely isn’t even enough to cover half the class). But today in the computer lab, one of our students asked if he could bring the broken ones in there so fix later in the day. Apparently, he’s in a computer class and they practice fixing computers are something of the sorts. So all of our broken computers are now *hopefully* on their way to someone functioning again. This is why this excites me: 1) the opportunites for engaging, challenging activities to incorporate into my lessons, 2) the technology will actually be put to use, and 3) the student actually took the iniative to want to fix them! We will see how it all works out…at least for now the non-existent IT people can continue to do their job of being non-existent (haha!).

I did teach all by myself (1st block at that) and felt really good about how I did (later confirmed by my CT). Basically, I introduced and modeled how-to use context clues to figure out a word that they may not necessarily know. When students could immediately identify the word given in the examples, I phrased it as, “OK, great! But I don’t know what the word is, so help me understand how you would figure that out from the example.” My CT liked that I went that extra step because it really reinforced how-to use clues and made them apply what they knew. Since I’m teaching Canterbury Tales, I figure I can target key words (since this aligns with my CT’s content) with a mixture of Beers’ ideas and some of my own…more details to come…

Anyway, back to fine-tuning my thesis! Draft one is due this upcoming week so I’m putting the three day weekend to full use!

(Oh, and p.s. definitely know all the students names now! This is a HUGE accomplishment for me, you all have know idea how bad I am at remembering names!)

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2 thoughts on “The ups and downs of week two

  1. That is pretty impressive that a kid said “you’re welcome.” It’s the little things that make our day, huh?

    And I fully support the use of smart-alec comments when necessary! I know all the pedagogy theory talks about love & dignity, but sometimes ya gotta get down and embarrass them now & again. It might sound horrible, but as long as it’s within reason, it works!

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