I was too tired to come up with a witty intro for this week; Here’s week two of my solo teach.
Monday wasn’t a bad day at all. First period went to the gym in order to do their required fitness exam. And one of the guys in the class actually beat the previous record for the amount of laps for the short run segment. He ran 167 laps (the previous record was 166). He was exhausted afterward, though, looking like he was about to pass out. For second through fifth periods, I began reading The Devil and Tom Walker. Pretty much each class had fun with it, especially with the wife character (who’s mean and sometimes physically abusive). And sixth period began reading the play version of “Bang Bang You’re Dead.” Any of you who had Dr. Plemons’ class with me a couple semesters ago should know what I’m talking about (I showed clips of the movie version). Half the class were assigned parts to read and did so. Funnily enough, the easy-going, funny guy in the class took the lead role, which is that of a school shooter… so that was ironic. And I swear, only that class could turn a play about a school shooter into a comedy. Alas. Seventh period conference until after school…did some random work and helped a student or two. Otherwise, I just went home with a headache (not sure why).
Tuesday was somewhat similar to Monday. First period began presentations over a chapter of a book they read and have to discuss (they each read a different chapter and all have to present about it). Second through fifth periods finished up The Devil and Tom Walker, and then I discussed the project that’s going along with it (I’m using a 2-5-8 menu which I created for it. It’s a list of options they can choose with options under ‘2 points’, ‘5 points’, and ‘8 points’. They have to choose either two of the 5 pointers or an 8 point with a 2 point, and each elevation of points makes them use a higher level of Bloom’s… with each point level also building on the previous information, so they’d have to know everything in the 2 pointers before they could do a 5 pointer). They also turned in a lot of late work, as three-week grades are due today. There was also yet another fire drill during third period, but that went pretty well. After all those classes, sixth period finished up the play before moving on to the movie version (which isn’t a direct representation, but rather taking the themes of the play with the main characters/story and juxtaposing it against those characters actually putting on the real play). Seventh period conference was mostly me grading and putting in grades. Finally, after school was a long tutoring session with a group of students while my mentor teacher held a parent/teacher conference. I left after 5 again, and also with another headache.
This day was a bit awkward. My mentor teacher was in and out of the room quite a bit all day long, so it was only partially ‘solo’. But she was only in the room to use the computer to type some stuff up. She also gave a couple comments here and there, but only when I really needed it… which I’ll get to in a moment.
So first period just continued with their presentations, which all went pretty well. But then second period came along, and I was teaching them how to go by the short answer model in answering a short answer question. No matter how hard I tried, nobody with the exception of about one or two guys were understanding it. But because the material seems so straight-forward, I just couldn’t figure out how to break it down any further than I already was. So my mentor stepped in (as she was in the room) and gave some ‘student-like’ responses to nudge me in the right direction. I tried that, which only slightly helped, but not much. Unfortunately, as class ended, she ended up chewing me out, basically. I mean, she really tore into me on everything I was doing wrong and how I needed to be doing things, etc. Needless to say, it didn’t put me in the greatest mood (in fact, I felt straight-up crappy)… which scared me even more, because my supervisor was coming in the next period for my final observation.
So when my supervisor got there, my mentor left the room so that we could be alone. But I took the criticisms I was given and put them in place. Third period went wonderfully. I mean, that class really got it once I started doing it in other ways. My supervisor even stayed the entire class period to watch the entire lesson and told me how great I was doing. That class lifted my mood almost immediately. And afterward, I went to tell my mentor how everything went, and she was glad. She also apologized for how she acted toward me previously, as she didn’t mean it to come off as bad as it did. She had just been really upset because she had seen me do so much better in the past and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get out of my slump (because I really was at a loss for what to do). So I was glad she helped, either way, but I was also happy that she apologized, because she really did kind of go a bit far with her tone and such.
Fourth and fifth periods did pretty well, too. Fourth period, especially, did very well with their answers and examples. Fifth period had a bit more trouble than the others (as usual), but they pretty much got it down. Then sixth period continued watching the film version of Bang Bang You’re Dead… once I got the stupid laptop to work (it decided to wait until sixth period started to freeze and act stupid on me). Oh, and if that doesn’t make sense, I was using the laptop with an LCD projector and some computer speakers (that I brought from home) to show the movie.
But then after that, seventh period conference comes along and they had their weekly grade-level meeting (a couple of the other teachers were also teaching the short answer model, as well, and I heard some stories on how their classes were having a couple difficulties, too). After that, I helped do tutoring stuff for students who came in after school while I got some other stuff together for grading. Once the students were gone, I worked with my mentor to re-grade the literary terms pre-tests that a huge chunk of students bombed… at least those who turned in their corrections. But I was doing bad with the math and grading part, so I think my mentor was getting aggravated with me because I suck at math. And then I think I annoyed her further because she asked for my help to spell something, and I misheard her and had to ask something else (which turned out unnecessary). But then she was fine again a bit later. Long story short (too late), it was a weird day bouncing back and forth with my mentor’s mood/temper and all that. And maybe I’m just too sensitive about it, or maybe I’m picking up the vibes correctly, I don’t know… but I always feel that she gets upset with me when she’s annoyed with the students (which happens often), like I’m part of the reason they’re screwing up. I don’t know… like I said, I could just be paranoid. Anyway, I got out of there slightly before 5, so that was fine.
Today was a good day, though slightly chaotic. First period did more presentations, which went fine. Second, fourth, and fifth periods did the group work with white marker boards that third period did the day before on answering a short answer question. They were hard to control and keep on task, but a lot of them at least got three or four steps into the five-step process. I learned never to have such big groups, though. That was my own personal lesson of the day. Third period, on the other hand, worked in pairs to do yet another short answer question. They all did pretty well. Sixth period finished the movie of Bang Bang You’re Dead. They all loved it, pretty much (except the haughty girl I mentioned last week, who didn’t care for its open-and-not-everything-is-spelled-out-for-you ending… which isn’t even THAT big of an open ending if you just use common sense). Afterward, during seventh period conference, my mentor teacher and I had our final meeting with my supervisor, who had nothing but glowing, glorious things to say about what she had witnessed the previous day (and that she’s already sent a letter of recommendation to VISD). After that, I just did a bit of copying of papers and then some grading. I also helped one of my creative writing students catch up on stuff, and we had what was one of the longest conversations we had ever had (because he’s usually pretty quiet). So that was good. I also helped another teacher with some technical stuff, too. I didn’t get out of there until about 5:15, but I didn’t even realize it was that late until I left, because time just flew by.
I knew before even going into today that today was going to be chaotic. It’s the day before Thanksgiving break, and I knew the kids weren’t going to want to do anything, much less anything for a grade. Well, first period started off alright doing some presentations (finishing up all but one, wherein we had some technical difficulties and had to postpone the one until after Thanksgiving break). Second through fifth periods did a couple different things: I first had to have them use handouts to write out their vocabulary as opposed to the usual LCD projector, because my mentor teacher forgot her flash drive that the vocab is on at her house. Then I discussed with them how to integrate/embed sources into a research-based paper, telling them more about how they need to write their papers which are due the week after we get back from Thanksgiving break (along with another project, too). Then they all had to write, for a grade, and alone, a short answer for a short answer question. And it wouldn’t normally have been hard, because the question included three things (ethos, pathos, logos) which they had learned for their homework over the last three weeks, and it was based upon The Devil and Tom Walker, which is basically all we’ve talked about this week. But of course, those who were there to have read the short story didn’t seem to remember it, and even those who had done the homework couldn’t remember, for the life of them, what ethos, pathos, or logos were. That all made everything doubly difficult.
But that’s only the half of it. Fourth period, for instance, even though I told them the previous day that we weren’t going to have a party, had a couple people bring some stuff anyway (cokes, cookies, etc.). I just let them have it and whatnot… and then laughed when, after lunch, everybody felt sick with a stomach ache from all the sugar. I told them they should have just listened to me. And then two girls lied to me and told me they were going to get checked out of school, and they both skipped the second half of fourth period, only to be found by my mentor teacher.
There’s a hilarious (and ironic) side-story to go with how she found them, too. So she had seen this one girl that’s in my sixth period class wandering around during first lunch, so she figured the girl just had first lunch. Then my mentor teacher, right after second lunch, popped back into the class to get something and noticed the two girls were gone and questioned me about it. I told her what they had told me, and she was all upset about it. Then she went searching around and, lo and behold, she found that same girl from my sixth period wandering around during third lunch, too. So she goes up to her, knowing she’s skipping, and tells her that she’ll forget she even saw her at all if she would tell her where those other two girls are at. And in a split second, the girl from my sixth period snitched on them both. So my mentor went to the gym (where they were at), found them, dragged them back to the classroom, had them apologize to me, and then had them both call their parents and explain what they had done. It was epic. The ironic part of the story here is that the girl from my sixth period class… had come to me during second period to pick up work for ISS, in which she was supposed to be all day. So she was basically skipping ISS the whole time.
And then fifth period was just insanity. Everybody, besides a select few, basically refused to listen to me or do any work. And then I had one guy squirt a little bit of water onto another guy from a water bottle, which upset the other guy… so he took a big mouthful of water of his one and spit it all on the first guy (and then ran off). I had to stop and calm down the first guy so he wouldn’t go fight the other guy. And then I had a girl who refused to sit in the classroom, so I had to have her sit right outside the door to do her work. And then I had the one guy who spit the water on the other guy tell me he was refusing to come to the detention I had assigned him last week, even though I put my neck out there to move the dates around twice so that he could come on a day that didn’t conflict with anything, and he’d just go to a 4-hour Saturday school. Then I had the love-him-and-hate-him-super-ADHD kid back in the room with me, because my mentor teacher (who had been taking him out to do personal tutoring in the lounge with him) was off calling those two girls’ parents, so everything was chaos with him just being there. I yelled at all of them numerous times (with only little effect). I even tried the silent treatment, which didn’t work too well, either. And then there were these two girls who kept alternating going to the bathroom/water fountain until I realized they were just attempting to get out of the classroom numerous times for whatever reason and so I finally stopped letting them go. But the highlight of my day was in this class, too. One of the guys in the class thought it was my last day (I have three more), so he brought me some pigs-in-a-blanket that were purely amazing. But besides that, fifth period was a complete disaster (I didn’t even bring it up to my mentor, because I didn’t want to get ‘the talk’ about it. She was in a pretty good mood, and I wanted it to stay that way).
Finally, sixth period came along, and they all just took a vocab test and all did pretty well on it (I did some grading while they did that). Seventh period conference I did some more grading, and then a parent of one of the students came in and had an out-of-the-blue parent/teacher conference with her, which I listened in on, so that was interesting. I continued doing some grading after that, getting in as many grades into the online grade book as I could. I helped one girl who had been absent for a while do some catching up, which was pretty easy, as she had most of the work done already. And then I hung out in the lounge briefly to attempt a crossword puzzle with my mentor and another friendly teacher before we all just gave up and left for the day. I was out of there by 4:10, thus ending my two weeks solo and starting up a week-long Thanksgiving break. And after that… only three days to go.