“Legit” Part II

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…


2 thoughts on ““Legit” Part II

  1. I am glad that you bring up the point of accountability with your General students and how you will maintain high expectations for all classes. I feel like the students in my General class walk in with the attitude that “it’s just general; we can’t finish everything that the other classes finish.” I don’t buy that for a second. I couldn’t agree with you more: they are smart and have just as much to offer as anyone. At the beginning of my placement, students were required to write and submit their essays to an essay contest. One of the general students asked if my CT was requiring all of the students to submit their essays and when she said yes, the student responded saying, “well, then we don’t have a chance, so why even bother.” It broke my heart. Learning is just as much about attitude and will power as anything else. Why are we drawn to the inspirational stories of the underdog triumphing against all odds- because it tells us that if someone like me can do it then maybe I can… Well, I know my students can. They are smart enough; they just need to realize that. If I can help one student realize that, then it is worth all the work that goes into designing lessons, grading papers, and even giving up the time I have trouble finding for myself.

    One final thought, congratulations on the “hey she is legit comment;” that is wonderful! I don’t know how my students feel in that regard about me, but I hope that it is the same. It sounds like you are doing great! Thanks for your meaningful thoughts and reflections that continue to make me think and reflect about my own practice.

    • I agree — I know my students “can,” too. I’m glad there are others out there that share the same idea on this as I do!

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