The Student Teacher Chronicles: Inservice Week.

As I have to write these 'blog posts' for my student teacher seminar, I figured I might as well post them up here, as well (this blog is 'random ramblings', after all). For those who don't already know, I am a student teacher this semester. The seminar class that goes with the student teaching requires us to write up weekly 'blogs' over what happened that week during student teaching. As such, see the first sentence I typed above. I'll be putting them here so as to chronicle my path (at least as far as student teaching goes) to graduation in December. I figured that I should keep y'all updated, as y'all will probably get fewer reviews/articles or whatnot due to this student teaching thing, so I should at least keep y'all updated on the stuff that's keeping me away. Also, I know that one of my readers has decided to become a teacher (albeit an elementary one), so this might be of at least some service to him. That having been said, interesting or not, here you are.

This first blog details the two days I went during Inservice Week (the week before school starts).


For Thursday and Friday (August 21 and 22), I went to Memorial High School and shadowed my mentor teacher and helped around.

On Thursday, I met up with my mentor teacher at 8 AM. We discussed a few minor things while she got some stuff ready on her computer. I then discovered that her room is like the central hub of activity with a lot of the teachers gravitating there for one reason or another (usually to comment or ask a question). So a lot of this happened over the course of both days.

Not too long after I got there, she took me around and introduced me to a lot of the other English teachers before heading over to the next building and introducing me to Vice Principals, the Principal’s secretary, the councilors, and others. I was also shown where the teacher mailboxes were located. We then headed to one of the IT buildings where she had to talk to somebody about getting me an ID tag.

After the walk-about, we went back to her room where I helped scan and save documents to her computer. She also showed me the online grade book and attendance sheets, etc. Other minor things occurred throughout the morning that have really slipped my mind.

But after lunch, around 1:30, the entire English department (including the Special Ed teachers) got together for a department meeting. A lot of information was discussed to the point of overwhelming. But one of the big things they’re instating this year is called “The Power of ‘I’.” What this means is that no student will fail anything, including the class. If the students refuse to do work or just miss work, instead of getting a 0, they’ll get an I (incomplete). And if they have any incompletes, they can’t have an overall average, which means they can’t get credit, whether passing or failing, for the class. This pretty much forces the students to do their assignments (and if they fail the assignments or don’t seem to get the gist of the work, they’re made to redo them). My mentor teacher also got an idea to re-instate homework to students (as it seems to be the ‘forbidden word’). But her idea was a really good one, which I suppose is why the department head made it mandatory for all English teachers to at least attempt in the first 9 weeks. She got the idea from an elementary school, in fact. There’s a lot of short stories that we won’t be able to get to in class, so she has the students do a weekly homework assignment (due every Thursday), where they read a short story and fill out these two handouts that include things like plot, setting, and character up to a specific literary device, defining it and finding an example of it, and even locating specific vocab words. And we also discussed a list she had made up for alternative novels/short stories for repeat students or students who have already read these works.

After the department meeting, all the AP-level teachers met briefly, though most of their conversation/meeting I wasn’t able to follow. By the time everything was done, it was about 3:45 or so. The one thing I did like about the meetings was that everybody was relatively laid-back, and there was quite a bit of joking and laughing. Though, it was somewhat easy to pick out some of the more disgruntled teachers of the group.

After that, my mentor teacher let me go home for the day. However, I had to be back again the next morning, which I was, at about 7:45-8 AM.

It was a bit different than the day before. My mentor teacher was a bit hectic when I got there, trying to get everything in order. I also tossed out an idea that I had to her which I thought about all the previous night and had trouble falling to sleep due to it. It was an idea about a lesson/project for later in the semester (we’re going to be teaching rhetoric and discussing pathos/ethos/logos/fallacies and using The Crucible to do so; I suggested that we have the students perform a Mock Witch Trial, having each of them take a part of the process—whether it be the accused, a lawyer, a witness, or a jury member—which would take all this information they’ve learned and have them both apply it and analyze it, using some higher order thinking skills. She really liked the idea, so I’ll be working on that later on. She told me it would be something to invite my supervisor, my principal, and even the department head to come check out at some point over the course of the days it’ll occur).

Anyway, she then had me do some hole-punching and paper-clipping of documents that would be given to some of the other teachers for the upcoming grade-level meeting. The grade-level meeting (with all the 11th grade English teachers, plus me) started at about 9:30. Interestingly enough, there’s a first-year teacher that’s starting up there, as well, so it’ll be interesting to see how things go with her. Immediately after the grade-level meeting, in which they discussed unit-information, grading, and other important things, there was a grade-level AP teacher meeting. By the time both meetings were finished, it was a little after noon, so we left for lunch. I came back about 1, and my mentor teacher had me do a bit of copying (and had to tell me how to work the copier). So I waited in line and made a load of copies. I finished about 1:45 or thereabouts, and my mentor teacher let me leave after that.

Overall, it was a highly interesting experience. I knew that teachers did a lot, but this was an overwhelming amount (and I just got a small piece of it… and not only that, but just a fly-on-the-wall’s view of it. I didn’t actually have to work on a lot of things they’ve had to do. Though my mentor teacher did tell me that I’m going to be working with the first-year teacher in creating a full Unit for toward the end of the semester). And it wasn’t just meetings and prep work. There was also—already—a fair share of drama between some of the teachers. They were very careful not to name names most times (though sometimes they had to if there were any direct complaints). But it was interesting that school hasn’t even started yet and there’s already a bit of tension/drama. And a lot of the teachers are already feeling exhausted just from prepping for the year. But alas—the life of a teacher!

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