Another week down! This week started off amazingly well because I was able to teach all day Monday by myself which I loved. The students were great and really responded well to our discussion on Beowulf. In fact, when my CT came back the next day, she was surprised at how much they “learned” through the previous discussion. And it made me feel good that the veteran sub in the room (who taught in inner city Chicago public schools for many years) thought that I handled myself very well and really worked well with the students. So, if the students learned something new, I guess I did something right, right? 🙂
Anyway, I wanted to focus this post on how writing workshops can be a huge success in the classroom…well at least in my opinion. I cannot WAIT to get kids work-shopping, and yes, even the “general” kids, too. I hate that general kids often get put into this other category because they aren’t necessarily on the college tract. These kids ARE smart. Perhaps it’s just a matter of tweaking a lesson here or there to really pull out what they know. I worked with many students in the lab while they were writing their literary analysis, 5-paragraph essays on Beowulf. This is apparently the hardest thing they will do all term. And many of them did struggle with it…at first. Yet, what I always find so interesting is that they have all the ideas, just struggle putting them down on paper. Wouldn’t know they knew any of the things I discussed with them through a multiple choice test…take that for what it’s worth.
With that said, I’m not going to lower my expectations for working with my general classes. I mean, in all actuality, it is hard because a certain amount of accountability was established in the room before I even got there, BUT I am going to push them. I am going to make them think. I am going to make them think critically. I think I can still reach “those” kids (and I have) by not just giving them the answers.
I also think that even if I am considered a “tougher” teacher, that again, the kids still think I’m “legit.” I mean for a few kids to speak up to some causing disruption and say, “Hey, ya’ll leave her alone and listen to what she’s sayin’. She’s good people.” Hey, I’ll take it. My CT said that our management styles do vary, with her being much more relaxed and that she envisioned my room as being one in which there was no talking and all students facing the front of the class…well, I can say that though I have very clear expectations, I don’t really envision my room that way. Yet, I do envision a safe, respectful, engaged learning environment. I envision collaboration and lots of multimodal projects. I envision lots of student generated artwork. I envision a classroom in which students can include their “underground” literacy work and make real world connections with what we are doing in class to what they are really doing. And, perhaps most importantly, I envision my classroom to be one in which every student, no matter what level he/she is on, is challenged and appreciated.
As for next week, I am working on author studies with DE (Flannery O’Connor) and moving into Canterbury Tales at the end of the week with the general kids. So, until next time…it’s back to lesson planning, cleaning, and reading — oh, and I’m essentially creating a student generated study guide for Canterbury Tales…will let you all know how that goes…