The Student Teacher Chronicles: Week Six.

Alright, because nothing of importance is coming out on DVD this week (except The Happening, but I can tell you what I plan on doing with that movie right now--skip), I'm going to replace this week's DVDs or Death! with the Student Teacher Chronicles. And I won't lie: it is a long one. So I'm gonna stop rambling now and get to it. Hope it's enjoyable.


As you will soon see, this was a very long week in a lot of different respects. As this is a really long post, I won’t bore you with an introduction. Let’s just go at it.


So said last week that I had one of the worst days thus far. Well, I guess I spoke too soon, because this day really vied for that title. Because the copy machine was broken (again) the previous Friday, no teachers were able to make copies or anything for the next week. And because the English department is really heavy on students having copies of stuff (whether it be homework, tests, or papers for notes), this was a real setback. So before school even started, I began making copies for the regular English 3 classes. It took me until halfway through second period before I finally had everything done. And of course, my mentor teacher really likes to color-code certain things, and, of course, the copy machine just loathes colored paper (because the dye makes it thicker or something), so it’s always jamming. That was a fun experience. Luckily, I haven’t really done much with first period yet, and my mentor teacher wanted to work with second period because they’re about a half-day behind due to this thing they had to go to the previous week.

So for the rest of second period and about halfway through third period, I was punching holes in about 90 different packets of information; however, the hole puncher dislikes, you know, actually making full holes. So after each one, I had to pry out the back ends of these packets to get all the holes clear and open (and they weren’t just dangling from the hole, they were barely even cut. I think I nearly got paper cuts underneath my fingernail). And while I’m doing this, I’m trying to listen as my mentor teacher goes over all the information with the third period class, because I hadn’t been given all this information over the weekend so that I could prepare for how the heck to teach it (in other words, I didn’t know what I would have been doing).

So then fourth period comes, which my mentor teacher leaves completely to me. But fourth period… I was about to strangle them. They wouldn’t shut up, no matter what. I raised my voice, I was stern with them, and even other students tried to get them to shut up, but they refused. I could barely do anything. But this isn’t even close to the first time we’ve had trouble with fourth period. So after school, my mentor teacher and I got together and made a brand new seating chart, and she also said that she was going into “Def Con 3” mode. There’s so many rules set up now for that period it’s crazy. Hopefully it works, though.

Fifth period was a lot better, and my day started getting better from this point on. Sixth period, Creative Writing, was fun as always. I didn’t have too much planned for the day, so it was kind of an impromptu lesson. They wrote their warm-up journal entries (which they’re starting to like much better now), and the prompt was something along the lines of “If you could hear the thoughts of the student(s) sitting next to you, what would they be?” And I had them write it in a stream-of-consciousness style. I then had them all read them aloud and we had to guess who they wrote about, so those were really funny (some even wrote about me, even though I’m not technically a student).

The other thing we went over was something I came up with on Sunday. We had talked briefly at the beginning of the year about publishing material or getting a website to put their prose/poetry up onto. Well, I found something on Sunday that was really awesome. It’s a Wiki (think Wikipedia). However, this particular Wiki site had a special for K-12 teachers. If you were a K-12 teacher and using it for school/classroom purposes, you could get their “Pro” package, which is usually between 5-50 bucks, for free. So I signed up for that, which comes with unlimited pages, up to 2 GB of space with up to 20 MB information upload at a time, no ads or pop-ups, SSL Security, and a bunch of other really cool stuff. So we’re gonna create different pages for each semester and one for every student in the class, so that each student gets his/her own special page to post up their short stories/poetry/plays for the class, and they’ll even be able to write their own author’s bio to place in their section. They all really loved this idea.

But after sixth period was over, the day started sinking once again. I had to go make yet some more copies of stuff for the regular classes, yet again with colored paper. But this time it was even worse: the machine would literally (no hyperbole here) jam every minute, if it took even that long. I could start coping something, go to sit down, and it would jam, only for me to go and fix the jam, close the door, and start it copying for about 30 seconds before it jammed again. Once, upon fixing the jam, I got this black ink slathered over my hand, so I had to go wash my hands… and while I was washing my hands… yup… it jammed again! It was really annoying, but my mentor teacher needed it to be on these yellow sheets of paper (because they were to go in yellow folders for their writer’s handbook AKA ‘the yellow pages’).

The we went down to pick stuff up from her box, only for her to stop a big argument/near-fight between these two or three girls, then get into her own argument with another teacher about something that turned out to be completely moot anyway. By the end of the day, I finally got some notes about things I’d need to know for later in the week (because she is not going to be there on Wednesday and Thursday, so I’d be in the room with a sub who gets to sit and do nothing but watch me teach… and will get paid for it, while I won’t). And then I finally got out of that school about 5:20 or so. And not to mention, during all of this, it was “Frickin freezing in here, Mr. Bigglesworth” (also known as very cold). Needless to say, by the time I left, I was quite tired, ready to commit an act of violence, and pushed ever so closely to the borderline of that which is known as “breaking down.”

And that was my (exact epitome of a) Monday.


Still a long day, but not a bad one like the previous day. Oh, and let me preface by saying that during the entirety of the first half of school, we were all overwhelmed by fresh paint fumes, as the custodians or whoever decided to paint the bathroom right next to our classroom during school hours, so the entire hallway was drowning in (and/or getting high off of) the smell. So during first period, I worked a lot on the webpage for Creative Writing, as I wasn’t really doing anything with the class. Then second through fifth period, they worked on a pre-writing exercise for a warm-up (except for second period, who is still a bit behind, so they warmed up with what we went over the previous day with all the other classes) before moving onto their big unit Post-Test. Oh, and fourth period totally flipped out with the Def Con 3 thing, but it worked out (for the most part).

Sixth period (Creative Writing) didn’t do a whole lot, either. They worked on their warm-up journal entry, and then took their vocab test (which is so totally easy that it’s ridiculous, mostly because of the way my mentor teacher sets it up on how to do it). And that was about it, really.

I got a lot of grades into the computer, so that was good, especially since grades are due yet again this week.

After the class was over and we went into seventh period conference (and on past the end of school), we did numerous things. We worked on creating a key for the Post Test. Then we went to a faculty meeting with Mr. Chapa in the cafeteria, which was only about 10-15 minutes and about fingerprinting. Then we went back and figured out the objectives for each question on the Post Test, which was awfully confusing, but we got it. Finally, my mentor teacher went over all the stuff I’d need to be doing with all of the classes (minus sixth period, which is totally up to me) for the next two days, as she’s going to be gone, and I’ll be stuck with a sub in the room and teaching all of the classes (talk about being pushed into the deep end with that first period AP class). But I’m not really worried. It should be relatively easy to get through. Though, yet again, I didn’t get out of there until about 5:20 PM, which is why it was another long day.


I bet you’ll never guess… another long day! This day was crazy hectic. My mentor teacher was gone, so I was doing everything myself (though I did have a sub in the room, but she just seemed to make things a little worse than they had to be). First period was insanity, because they decided to have questions about things that my mentor teacher didn’t tell me about. She told me what they had to do for today, not about what they had already started previously (which I wasn’t sure of because, as I said, I was working on other stuff the previous day). So everybody in the first period was acting like lost little sheep as if my mentor teacher hadn’t explained to them anything about what they were to be doing, which I know isn’t true. So here they are asking me questions about stuff I have no idea how to answer because I wasn’t informed on it, and the sub is sitting back like “I know how you feel.” And then what they were supposed to be doing should have only lasted 10 minutes, but it lasted half the class, so I had to speed everything up to try and catch up, as they needed to be at a certain point by the end of Thursday. But I did catch them up to where I thought they’d need to be, which was good.

Then second period, I got thrown for a loop, as well. As I’ve said before, they’re a day behind. So I start doing one thing, but a student tells me they’d done it already. So I move on to the next thing, and another student tells me we’re supposed to be doing this other thing, so I’m confused as to what the heck is going on. Finally we get it all figured out (even though they were a day behind, things got switched around and it was all weird). Then they finished up the Post-Test. Second through fifth periods did their brainstorming activities and then finished their Post-Tests.

Third period was awesome as usual. Fourth period did pretty well today with their punishment. I had to get on them once or twice, but it was never awful. They were actually very good. Fifth period was fun. I was all over the place and answering a million questions, but I really felt like I had built a bunch of relationships with students that I previously hadn’t had. There’s even this one girl who is, for lack of a better term, ‘ghetto’, who was relatively quiet and had some learning difficulties, but we’ve recently started building this relationship, and she’s been a lot cooler and easy-going with me, which is really good. But then there’s this one group of guys that never seems to shut up, so during the Post-Test, when they wouldn’t stop talking, I was play-threatening that I’d bring over a chair and sit right next to them if I had to. They started saying stuff like “Oh I bet you won’t,” etc., so I did. And they stopped talking. It was great. And if any others wouldn’t stop talking, I’d go over and sit on their desk real close to them, and they’d start freaking out (bubble invasion). It was more funny than anything, but it worked.

Though as I said, the sub would make situations worse because she would over-react to stuff. For instance, this one guy had this new hat he wanted to wear and put it on. Well, the sub got on him all stern-like about dress code and threatened to take it up. The guy started getting really defensive and upset, so I walked over, had the sub walk to another area, and had him calm down by telling him he’d keep the hat but just not wear it. He was fine after that. And there was another situation in the same class where this guy and the girl next to him were talking or whatever, and the sub’s involvement nearly made it out into this big argument. Again, I had to mediate and calm them both down pretty quickly, which wasn’t very hard once the sub walked away.

But then sixth period, I had those who had their short story rough drafts (which was almost everybody) pair up and switch stories so they could peer-review. The class had an uneven number, so I reviewed one student’s story. And this is one of the students who mostly talks or sleeps instead of doing anything. It wasn’t complete yet, but I was extremely surprised at how well it was written. There were a ton of spelling and grammatical errors, but the level of imagery and writing style shown underneath all that was stunning. He seriously had some imagery that amazed me, and there was even one moment in the story where he used a mix of… I believe anaphora (repetition wherein the beginning of each phrase is repeated) and asyndeton (when a list of items does not have any conjunctions like ‘and’ or ‘or’). Very high stylistic choices on his part, and I honestly don’t think he knew what he was doing at any more than an emotional level—in other words, I don’t think he knew what those stylistic devices were or that they have specific effects on the reader… but I think he did it for the rawness and sound of the usage, which is what made me even more excited for him that he could even feel that within a piece of writing. Anyway, I also went around and told everybody what assignments they had yet to turn in so I could get grades in for the six weeks by Friday.

Then during seventh period conference, we had a grade-level meeting about all the Post-Tests, which basically turned out with us saying “everybody did horribly… let’s push back the next unit and continue focusing on this stuff.” Then after that, we had a Department meeting, which lasted about an hour. Though I did find out that while the Assistant Principals did their walkthroughs for the different subjects and had both positive and negative things to say about each subject, they could not find a single negative comment to say about the English department and really felt that, unlike in other subjects, the English teachers really felt involved and devoted to their subject and craft. So after that was over, I basically just left. I left a little before 5 on this day, so it wasn’t as late as the other days, but was getting there.


Pfft… you’ve already figured it out by now.

Today was just plain awful. I should have seen the signs when I found out before school even started that one of my student’s dad killed himself the previous night (she won’t be back in class until next week, though we’re gonna have to prepare the period for her return and on how to act… luckily it’s third period, and they’re all great).

First period was fine. I just split them up into two main groups and had them read and answer questions together.

But then came second period. I wanted to strangle this class (not all of them, but a good portion). So after the vocab warm-up which was reinstated on this day, I tried to do a mini-lesson on the Planning stage of writing an essay (in other words, creating an outline), but that didn’t work out so well. The so-called ‘mini-lesson’ turned into a full-out lesson because 1) nobody was understanding, 2) nobody would pay attention, and 3) one guy kept back-talking me to the point I nearly wrote him up. I finally (thanks to a suggestion by a student) drew an example on the board, and everybody quickly began to understand it. Then in the last fifteen minutes or so of class, I let those who needed to finish up their Post-Tests do that, while others either worked on their homework or the brainstorming/outlining. I eventually had to flip on the lights, but even that didn’t work as well as it should have.

Third period did great as usual. Though I did find out randomly that one of my students in this class lives right next to me (and that my dog got her dog pregnant a few years back). Fourth period is doing much better, too, with these rules, though they did start getting a bit rowdy at one point. But overall, they did really well. Fifth period, on the other hand, was similar to second period (but only a smidge better). One guy had to go down to the councilor’s office (mostly because I think he was getting pretty upset with a guy in the class). Then a couple other guys wouldn’t shut up all class. Some others complained that they couldn’t concentrate, too. I eventually had to gripe at them to shut the heck up, and they finally did (which is partially what made them a smidge better than second period). I even tried some of the “People behave to get what they want” stuff, and it was only minutely effective. I mean, it did work, but not completely.

Sixth period, of course, were good. The ironic thing with sixth period is that the two guys that usually do the least amount of work were two of the only guys that were focused and on task (for the most part).

After school, I talked to another teacher for a while and did some venting and attempted relaxing. I also realized around fourth period or so that something wasn’t quite right with the outline format in general. I couldn’t figure out what to put on the main section. But then in talking to the other teacher, I found that what was throwing me off is that it’s almost impossible to write an outline for a Narrative/Descriptive essay, which is what they’re writing. But my mentor teacher demands it, even though I can barely even do it (I hate outlining in general, but add in outlining to something that can barely be outlined… it’s not wonder I had issues explaining it to these kids).

Then I did a bit of grading, though another student came in to finish up his Post-Test, and another student (a foreign exchange girl that’s from my AP class) came in to get help, even though I’ve told her repeatedly that I know next to nothing about what she’s supposed to have done. She wouldn’t take no as an answer, even though she hates the class and doesn’t want to be in the AP class, but she also couldn’t grasp the concept of a rough draft not having to be perfect. I began feeling that anything short of me actually writing the paper for her (which she did ask me to do) would have actually appeased her. I didn’t get to leave until around 5 or so, again.


I bet you’ll never guess what I’d say right here… but I’m not gonna say it, because I’m sure you’d be able to figure it out by now.

So anyway, my day starts off with me filling in my mentor teacher (who was finally back… hooray!) of everything that happened the previous day (the good and the bad). Then I proceeded to try and make copies all up through first period, because they needed some stuff for over the weekend, and I needed to make copies of other stuff, as well. Unfortunately, the teacher who used the copy machine right in front of me broke it (not intentionally… it just broke while she was using it). And the copy machine upstairs was broken, as well. So then I went to the other building to use that copy machine instead. Of course there’s already this line of people, so I get to wait. Then, finally, the person right in front of me is almost done… when the machine stops functioning correctly. Aggravated, I shimmy (that’s right, I don’t walk… I shimmy) on back to class wherein I inform my teacher what’s up. She pouts. Plans were changed, and they didn’t get the stuff for over the weekend. So then I just kinda work with first period until the end of class.

Then my mentor teacher went to check on the copy machine in our building again, and it seemed to be functioning. So I went to make a whole bunch of copies during second period instead. While I was gone, she had herself a little Pow Wow with second period about how disrespectful they were and all that jazz. I came back and worked with them for the rest of class once I finished all of my lovely copies.

Third period was fine as usual. Fourth period got to get back one of their privileges because I told my mentor teacher they acted so well. I let them be able to go to the bathroom during class (because I knew that was going to be the one to cause the most issues). Otherwise, they were just dandy. So was fifth period.

Before I move on to sixth period, however, I want to explain a little bit about what happened during the regular English 3 classes. Before school I had explained to my mentor teacher that I pretty much failed at explaining outlining, so she, very helpfully, re-went over it with the class in a much better way so that they understood it. But then she also did another thing that she learned at these meetings that she’d been gone for the past two days. She posted a giant sheet of butcher paper up near the ceiling. Then she’d pick two medium/shorter students and give them markers. She’d tell them that it wasn’t a competition and that they had to put a mark as high as they could on the paper without standing on anything or jumping (the most they could do was stand on their tip-toes). So they did that. Then she had the rest of the class stand up and start cheering both of them on and encouraging them as they made second marks, trying to get higher than the first time. Without fail, each student got much higher on the paper the second time around. She would then explain that each student sets this minimal goal for themselves. However, with encouragement from the teachers and fellow students, and working together, they can far exceed expectations if they just tried. It was a really great little thing and made practically everybody feel good.

So on to sixth period. Just like the rest of the classes, I was focusing the majority of the class time on finishing up unfinished work due to grades being due on this day. But I also did a little game to go along with it. In essence, it was the “No Talking Game,” which I knew would be incredibly difficult with this incredibly loud class. I handed out a bunch of marker boards and some Expo markers to everybody. The only way they could talk would be by writing on the marker boards. A lot of people said they disliked it, but I know better. They were all laughing and having fun the entire time. They were just frustrated because they couldn’t actually speak. And if they spoke, they would lose 5 points for every time. I even joined in with them and didn’t speak. I would go around telling people what they needed to be working on by writing it on the marker board, and I would alternate that by just having fun “talking” with the other students.

After school, my mentor teacher and I did a ton of grading, as we had to get everything in by 4 PM. After 4, once grades and stuff were all in, we planned for the next couple weeks and all that jazz. Long story short, I didn’t leave until about 6 PM. But it was a very productive and overall good day. Good way to end the week.

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