10.12.2008

The Student Teacher Chronicles: Week Seven.

Oh yeah, I'm freakin awesome. Here's Week Seven.

Monday


What a day, what a day. So I get to do my usual Monday ritual of loads of copies in the morning, which, as per usual, spilled over into first period. But it only did so because I keep having to stop to let other teachers get in front of me and copy stuff right quick. But then I unfortunately let two disgruntled math teachers go ahead of me (apparently the copy machine upstairs was down). The first one had what seemed to be close to 200 copies, so I had to stand there waiting while she did nothing but moan and complain and be all disgruntled or whatnot (and the sad part was that she was still a young teacher). I had to leave at one point to help my mentor teacher model peer editing for first period, but then I went back only to find another teacher from one of the portable buildings (because that copy machine was down, as well) just start to copy stuff. But she was much nicer and actually talked to me instead of ignored me completely. So after that, I finished up my copies and went back to first period.

Second period I sat back and watched my mentor teacher do her thing, which thankfully I got to see, because she went off to make even more copies during third period, so I was left to teach them everything. Then fourth period came, which is so awkward with the whole Def Con 3 thing. I hate having to enforce this ‘third grade discipline’, mostly because it’s just a major hassle for everybody involved, and all you get is blank faces staring back at you.

But the interesting part of the day started after lunch when we came back for the second half of fourth period. So I continued on with them while my mentor teacher was out of the room. But then the next thing I know, she’s coming into the room on her cell phone not looking too well, and she ends up telling me that she has to leave to go to this eye doctor appointment because something was wrong (as I found out later, she had some kind of inflammatory issue behind one of her eyes, and so she went straight home after the doctor). So for the rest of the day, I’m there completely alone. It wasn’t as scary as it sounds, but it was still an interesting experience. Some of the other teachers were really nice and told me that they were right down the hall if I needed anything, so that was good. I just had two periods left anyway, and I know I can handle sixth period.

But it was fifth period that drove me crazy. There’s just a handful of people who won’t stop acting up, and it was getting to the point today when even the rest of the class was getting on one of the guys who couldn’t stop joking around (even the other guys who have trouble shutting up got on this guy for not shutting up… that’s how bad it got). I just had a lot of management issues with them that it drove me crazy.

Sixth period was fine. We started the poetry unit. I’m all freaked out now because I don’t know too much about teaching poetry, but my mentor teacher dropped a whole bunch of stuff on me that she’d like me to do starting this week, and it totally all contradicts all the plans I’d come up with myself, so I’ll have to go back and re-plan everything, which is a pain. But anyway, as for the class, I had them do a journal entry thing that was to write a poem that described their feet, but my mentor teacher gave me the idea that they had to do it using candy bars as descriptors. They basically worked on that the entire class. I also told them to bring their favorite poems (and if they didn’t have one, I had a book of poetry they could look through) for the week for them to read dramatically. I read them one of my favorite poems, “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allen Poe. Oh, and they also turned in their final drafts of their short stories, which I now have to go through and grade (I got one done… I just had to read the short story written by the girl who thinks she’s the best writer ever known to man. Let’s just say… she’s not).

I did reading/grading stuff during the conference period. I read the one aforementioned short story and graded it, then I read an essay that another teacher let me read from one of her students that was freakin mind-blowing (from a total ghetto kid, I think… quite a few grammar errors and such, but the descriptions and similes and all that were stunning… and I don’t mean just for somebody his age, but for young writers in general). I also tried and failed to help another teacher with SBEC issues, and I sort of helped the foreign exchange student from first period after school. Then I left early when I found out my mentor teacher wasn’t coming back. That was about it.

Tuesday


Tuesday wasn’t too bad of a day. Started off by making a few copies for sixth period, and then I made more copies for second through fifth that my mentor teacher hadn’t finished making the previous day.

I didn’t really do much for first period, as they were already working on stuff by the time I settled down in the room. Oh, and I also helped create a new seating chart for fifth period. Second period I just watched my mentor teacher work on the day’s stuff with the class (which was basically going over voice and word choice for essays and showing examples of what a 1 or 2 scoring for an essay looks like). Third period I took over and worked with them with my mentor teacher out of the room. My supervisor also came during this period, which I had completely forgotten about until she walked through the door (so that made it a bit more nerve-wreaking). I kept feeling like I was forgetting something, but I wasn’t, so it’s all good. She left happily as usual, and I think I got some bonus points because one of the students told her as she was walking in that I was a really good teacher. Fourth period was much of the same, except with a bit more trouble on keeping their attention the whole classroom management thing.

Fifth period went into “Def Con 2,” which isn’t as hardcore as Def Con 3. It included keeping the lights on in the room and having new seating arrangements for most of them. The reason we didn’t go full out Def Con 3 was that it was only a select few of them that had been acting up, and we didn’t want to punish the entire class horribly for the actions of a few. But while I was doing my teaching thing, my mentor teacher called each student out into the hall one at a time and, if they were one of the disorderly kids, she gave them a talk and asked them to apologize, etc. If they weren’t a disorderly kid, I believe she told them about their awesomeness and stuff like that (which I think she did with the disorderlies, as well… because they aren’t bad kids at all, and most of them are fun, but they just get out of hand). The only downside is that the one guy who I really like in that class, though he was one of the bigger disorderly kids, was super upset about the whole scenario and acted all quiet and broody for the rest of class, which was uncomfortable. Other than that, though, it was fine.

And then sixth period was fine, as usual. Those who had their favorite poems read those. Then we discussed their big poetry portfolio project for the unit briefly. After that, we discussed Form Poems and they worked on that for the remainder of class. However, the highlight of the class dealt with Crazy Girl. So, she asked me what I thought of her short story, as I told her I had read it. So I sat down near her and looked at her seriously and said “I’m going to give you an option here. I can talk to you about your story and give you helpful criticism/critiques… or I can lie.” So she decided to think about it for a few minutes before she decided she want to hear it, even though she put her fingers in her ears (though she could still hear me). So I started telling her the truth, but not in a mean way. For reference, what is in parenthesis were her responses. The conversation went something like this: “You made 100 based on the criteria. And that’s good. As for other things, ‘such and such’ could have used a bit of work (‘It’s because of how I had to have it written’), ‘that’ was alright, but it could have been ‘this’ (‘I can write so much better than this anyway’), and this was confusing and all over the place (‘no it wasn’t… I understood it fine.’)” and so on and so forth. I gave examples and whatnot, but she had an excuse for everything, even though she had previously been going around saying how proud she was of the story and how everybody else thinks it was awesome (note: her peers that sit around her and are frightened of and/or annoyed by her). And after everything I said, she just got more and more angry, because I was defying her vision of herself (how dare somebody say she’s not perfect). But the kicker was that the girl who sits in front of her was like “I’d like for you to give me some honest critiques of my story” (because I had told her I’d read a couple pages of it already). So I talked to her briefly about her own story, and she was like “Thanks, that’s really helpful, I really appreciate it.” And I responded with something like “I appreciate the fact that you take your criticisms so well and can use them productively.” Then I peaked back at Crazy Girl right before she snapped “I can take them, too! I just need to think first…” And even after the bell rang, she sat in her seat all brooding-like, and the air was all tense and scary. She finally left and I took a deep breath. But she really needs to get her ego-bubble bursted and be shown that she’s not little miss perfect, and I tried to do that in the most professional way possible.

Other than that, the only other thing of note for the day was finding out at lunch, halfway through the day, that my mentor teacher wasn’t going to be there the next day. It was like “Oh, yeah, and I’m not gonna be here tomorrow.” It totally took me aback, and I started getting all panicky, as I hadn’t mentally prepared myself for that. But after school, we went over everything I’d need to know for the next day, so that’s fine. We also paid a visit to one of the Vice Principals and just chatted for a while and updated her on some things. Overall, it was a pretty decent day with its own ups and downs.

Wednesday


Wednesday was a great day, and my mentor teacher wasn’t even there. I started the day making a few copies for later on, and that went fine. The sub that was with me all day seemed to be well known and liked and had stories for everything.

First period, I simply went around and evaluated introductory paragraphs before I started them on the first body paragraph. It was simple, and we all had a good time. Second through fifth periods just had me reading examples of 3 and 4 scored essays (with the exception of third period, who wanted to read them aloud themselves), as well as letting them work on their brainstorming, outlining, and drafting of their essays. The big points for these classes were in fourth and fifth period. In fourth period, I re-talked with them about following these rules more and how ignoring these rules that we set up meant that they’d lose the stuff they’d regained and it could only get worse from there (detentions, etc), but if they acted better, they’d regain more stuff and things would get easier on everybody. They quieted down a lot during class, and everything worked out very well. Fifth period, I talked to the one student who I really liked and was upset with me the previous day and got everything squared out. I explained how I liked him and all that and wasn’t just hating on him, and that I understood it was equally this other guy’s fault, as well, and that I had talked to him, too. We decided to start over on a clean slate, and that worked amazingly well. He even asked for a lot of help, so I sat down with him and really got him going, and he showed me yet again how brilliant he really is if he tries.

Sixth period was just more Form Poetry, and I told them they’d have to pick their favorite Form Poem that they’d written and put it on construction paper to decorate, etc. The biggest issue with sixth period was Crazy Girl, who was still having difficulty adjusting to the fact that somebody (AKA me) didn’t find her writing utterly perfect and magnificent. She moaned that she looked over it all night and couldn’t find anything wrong with it grammatically or anything and how she’s so good at that stuff because she’s the person everybody comes to for help. So she had me act editor on her paper. I sat down and started to circle/underline grammar issues, and it took me ten-fifteen minutes just to get through the first two and a third pages due to all the issues (which really annoyed her even more). So of course none of it was her fault (it was the computer!), and she can not know stuff and make mistakes and still be perfect… who knew? So as class ended, she started getting really immature saying how she was still such a better writer than me and how much I suck at it and all that kind of thing, so I admit to sinking to her level and going all ‘yeah, whatever, no you’re not.’ ‘yes I am’ ‘no… you aren’t.’ It was a sad moment for me, but this girl is seriously in my top three most aggravating people I’ve ever met. If it weren’t for that, my day would have been amazing all around.

Seventh period conference came around and I actually had another teacher come in to get my help on grammar issues. While I was doing that, I was multi-tasking with grading other things, as well. And I thought I was going to get out early, but then my mentor teacher showed up and we talked for a while. Then she had to go to a quick meeting with one of the Vice Principals, so I just sat around in the classroom for a while until one of my fourth period students came in to retake a quiz, so I let him do that. By the time my mentor teacher came back (and I had brooded about Crazy Girl for ages), and we talked about all sorts of things I’m going to do over the next month or so until I’m done student teaching (including yet another book I have to read), it was about 5:45 when I finally left.

However, this day still went amazingly well, and it was one of those days that really made me feel like a teacher.

Thursday


Thursday wasn’t anything special. I got there and my mentor teacher was at a meeting of some sort (over some Harris Survey thing that we’d have to administer during second period). And for whatever reason, she didn’t unlock the door beforehand, so I had to wait for a while for her to get out and come back.

First period went as usual. Second period that survey the entire time. Third through fifth periods tried their hand at scoring essays themselves, and they all did really well. Sixth period just continued working on what they started the previous day. The only major thing of note during class periods was that my mentor teacher left me with subs yet again, this time starting with fourth period, due to having to work only half day and using the other half to work on Scope and Sequence stuff right across the hall in the lounge (and I had a different sub for fourth, fifth, and sixth periods). Management-wise, I had to take up a cell phone from a guy in fourth period, and I talked to another guy in fourth period about a detention because he skipped the second half of class the previous day—I took him out into the hall and asked what would be a good time for him due to his work schedule and stuff, which he told me he would get back to me the next day, and I agreed (he was very agreeable with the whole situation). After that, surprisingly enough, he started reacting to/noticing me a lot more, as he really didn’t before, so that was a big bonus.

Other than that, my supervisor came by during seventh period conference and basically told me how awesome I was. She went on about how it seems other student teachers might have certain little issues here and there that I’m not having issues with, and while I’m not perfect, I’m doing amazingly well and exceeding expectations on a lot of things (which I think she said makes it interesting to score on her reports, because she can’t give full points to me due to nobody being perfect at this, and I know I’m certainly not, but that it was surely fun to watch me or something like that). So now I have three great supervisor reports and I believe two very positive substitute reports in my file with my mentor teacher. In other words… yeah, I’m freakin awesome.

Friday


Not much to report for Friday. Didn’t really do anything during first period, as usual. Second period, I caught them up with what the other regulars did the previous day. Third through fifth periods, we split everybody up into groups and let them do make-up work if necessary. If they didn’t have anything to make up, then they worked on their essays. With the exception of fourth period, I basically helped out the groups that were working on Post Test things, going over it with them and helping them understand why they missed the answers they did and what the correct answers were and why. Sixth period, they basically continued/finished up their Form Poems. Obviously there were numerous interactions and such during the day, but that was about the gist of the class day.

The biggest thing that differed from that was during seventh period conference, we went to the Pep Rally because my mentor teacher decided to play musical chairs. She got about four rounds in before she lost, though the time she was in it was pretty funny (bumping people out of the way and/or onto the floor). Oh, and the super-hyper ADHD Vice Principal Mr. Motley ran out when it was just the last two people, grabbed the chair, and started to dash away. It was hilarious. Otherwise, the drum line was cool, the hip hop dancers were cool, and I got to see a lot of my students mixed all around in different activities (cheerleaders, dance team, hip hop, band, football, etc.) So yeah… that’s about it. This has to be the shortest entry for a single day I’ve ever written. How anti-climactic for the week, eh?

3 comments:

  1. You did not say what grade and what subject you were teaching! Well, you must understand how students think. See "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better" on amazon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Uh... I've said grade/subject numerous times throughout these chronicles. I'm teaching high school juniors. I have English 3 AP, regular English 3, and creative writing.

    Also... I have no idea where your comment came from (like... what did I say to make you think I needed a book for help?). I know what I'm doing here, and a book isn't going to be much help if needed. I have all the help I need with my mentor teacher. Thanks for the suggestion, all the same.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You make some good points above.
    However, I also think that this can be helpful to you:
    Go to: http://www.panix.com/~pro-ed/

    If you get this book and video: PREVENTING Classroom Discipline Problems, [they are in many libraries, so you don't have to buy them] email me and I can refer you to the sections of the book and the video [that demonstrates the effective vs. the ineffective teacher] that can help you.

    [I also teach an online course on these issues that may be helpful to you at:
    www.ClassroomManagementOnline.com ]

    If you cannot get the book or video, email me and I will try to help.
    Best regards,

    Howard

    Howard Seeman, Ph.D.
    Professor Emeritus,
    City Univ. of New York

    Prof. Seeman
    Hokaja@aol.com
    www.ClassroomManagementOnline.com

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.