The Student Teacher Chronicles: Week Five.

Alrighty... here's week five! In case you missed it, I also posted a short review for the movie EuroTrip below this, so this will be the second post for the day. Enjoy! (Oh... and let me know if anybody is reading these or are actually enjoying them. That'd be lovely).


So apparently I look like I could be a Jedi. Huh. Oh, and my dancing skills are either hilarious (because they’re awful) or make students afraid for their lives.

Anyway, this week was a total rollercoaster of emotions. There was really bad and really good, and it seemed to really alternate throughout. This was homecoming week, too, so everybody was all hyped up and dressing up randomly throughout the week (each day was themed). And as to not boggle down your reading time here, I shall continue forth into that which is… okay, I’ll just start now.


Homecoming theme: Nerd day.
What I did: I’m already a nerd, so I dressed normally.

Monday was, so far, my worst day. It seriously was a day that made me sit and reevaluate what I’ve been wanting to do with my life. It didn’t start off well. I was up at 6:25 AM, get to the school sometime between 7:15 and 7:25, and as I get to the school and go to make copies of things, but the copy machine is acting up. And then other teachers, once it was working, were hounding the thing for ages printing numerous sets of 100+ page documents. But when I finally got around to being able to use it, either the machine or me kept screwing up, so it was very aggravating. And this is before I’ve even taught a class for the day!

So now I’ve basically taken over completely for second through sixth period (so I’m teaching everything except English 3 AP, which is first period). But things just went poorly. The kids were having issues understanding the subject matter. All they would do was complain on certain other things. It was just mentally straining. However, after each class, my mentor teacher would give me advice (she gave me a whole load on pretty much everything I was doing wrong… and while there were only a couple main things, they were really big things). So with every class, I was able to alter my methods a bit. By the time I reached fifth period, I had it down pretty well, and it went as smoothly as a class that day could have gone, though still slightly rough.

When sixth period (creative writing) came, I had to introduce a new thing for them to do every day. I have these simple journal prompts to help simple writing and such, which none of them are liking too much, but my mentor teacher is pretty much swearing by them (plus I really needed a stable anticipatory set/warm-up for the class). And then they started on new vocab, which, again, didn’t go over too well. We didn’t even finish going over everything by the end of class.

Seventh period was, thankfully, conference period, but the day wasn’t over… oh no! We continued working on stuff until about 4:30 when she let me go for a bit. So I went home for about an hour to scarf down some food before I basically had to turn right back around and go back to Open House. I even had to talk to the parents at one point because my mentor teacher had to go get her son right quick from football practice, and that was rough… mostly because they stared at me like I was crazy and didn’t really say much. So I was doing that from about 6:30 to 8:30. I didn’t get home until about 9, in which I went straight to my room and worked until about 10:30 on stuff I needed to have prepared for the next day before finally going to bed, completely and utterly exhausted (physically and mentally).


Homecoming theme: Blast from the past.
What I did: I dressed so last week.

Tuesday, on the other hand, was a much better day. I was still completely exhausted when I got up and got to school, but things quickly started turning around. For instance, my mentor teacher finally got me started working with the AP class first period. She split the class into large groups, and she worked with one half while I worked with the other. I was so terrified of this because I had, over the weekend, read the work (Maya Angelou’s “Finishing School”) that we were to have read and answered questions on. During the weekend and the previous night after Open House I had gone through all the questions that needed to be answered and did them, but I had no idea if I was right or not, because it wasn’t like some professional key. I had to actually bank on all my learning in English and Lit classes throughout college. Thankfully, however, it worked out really well. In fact, most of their answers were basically exactly the same as mine, so that alleviated a lot of worry on my part. There’s some really smart kids in that class, I swear. But we laughed, we gave answers, and we all got out of it alive… so it was all good.

As for the regular English 3 kids, we continued with the stuff they had been doing the previous day. But this time I used a lot more examples and more modeling (one of the things that was my bigger issues with the English 3 classes… because, ironically, I do everything pretty well in creative writing, but I have trouble elsewhere), so that helped a bit. First we continued going over “Showing versus Telling” in writing, and they worked in groups to write examples paragraphs that they shared with the class. They all did very well here. Then we continued on with grammar and discussing “Object” (as in Direct Objects). A lot of them were having a lot of trouble with this, though. So after I made everything “nauseatingly clear” with how to find a direct object (it must be after an action verb only, etc.), I went through the examples with them all the same, where I’d either ask generally or call on people individually to read the sentence, tell me what the verb is, tell me if the verb is an action verb, and, if it is, what the direct object was. By the end of the practice section, they had it pretty well down and were all answering at once. And if that weren’t enough, my mentor teacher helped me come up with a fun exercise. I made fifteen different sentences and split the sentences into groupings of three, cut each part of the sentence out (for instance, the subject, the verb, the direct object, and any other part of the predicate would all be different slips of paper), and put three cut up sentences in five different envelopes. I then split them into groups and handed out the envelopes, and they were to create sentences (whether the original ones or creative ones—and they had a lot of fun doing the latter) and tell me where their verb was and what the direct object of the sentence was. By the end of the class, they had everything down so perfectly and were so clear on how to locate a direct object, I don’t think any of them should have trouble anymore (at least in the near future).

Then in creative writing, I had to laugh because I gave them a fun little assignment. I asked them to come up with ten completely random words which I wrote on the board. However, they picked some really big and difficult words, most of which the majority of the class didn’t even know. And they only picked up on what I was going to do (or at least had a general idea) when it was too late. I had them take those ten words and then write a one-to-two paragraph original plot summary that required them to use all ten of those words. And because a lot of them didn’t know all of the words, they had to get out the dictionaries and start looking words up, so it was a little bonus there. And any time they asked me what a word meant, I didn’t give any slack and told them to look it up, because they need to learn to rely on themselves and their own abilities instead of being dependent on others (that, and I could barely explain, although I knew what they meant, the definitions of the words myself... but I prefer the other explanation).

All in all, it was a pretty good day (except for back and knee pains). Oh, and the crazy girl I’ve mentioned before is getting a lot better. She still thinks she’s better than everybody else, but she’s getting a lot more tolerable in class, and even interesting to talk to. And all I did was ignore her annoyingness for attention, continue to treat her with the same respect and politeness as everybody else (in a fair way, not necessarily an equal way), and speak to her on her level (for instance, she likes to say “Merry Christmas” as she leaves, so I told her that as she was leaving, and she got all happy and was like “You remembered!”… whatever works, right?).


Homecoming theme: Celebrity day.
What I did: Read below.

This day there was no student teaching due to student teacher seminar.


Homecoming theme: Superhero day.
What I did: Hiro Nakamura from Heroes (I’m me from the past… wearing something from previous student teaching).

Thursday was another annoying day. It seems that when my mentor teacher has a bad or annoying day, I’m going to have a bad or annoying day. I’ll feel tense and whatever, and there’s just this damper of an aura around the room. This was one of those days. It wasn’t like that the entire day… but just on and off throughout the day. But anyway, onto classes…

The regular English 3 classes (except second period, who was a day behind) finished up “Showing versus Telling.” I wrote a “telling” sentence on the board and they had to write a paragraph changing it into a “showing” bit of detail. They had a bunch of criteria they had to meet, too, and they were all given a grading rubric on what they could do in order to get certain grades. However, most people actually didn’t want to settle for less than a 100, so we were constantly called over to look at their rough drafts (after they got it written down on scratch paper, they were to transfer it to construction paper, which is to be put around the room).

For Creative Writing, I had those who hadn’t done so yet read their Word Plot aloud and turn it in (there weren’t many left). Then I started a new assignment wherein they would take the character from their short story and pretend they were walking through a mall (even if the character lived in a time without a mall). They were to use description/sensory details (sight/hearing/taste/smell/touch) to describe everything that was going on. It was a relatively good day in this class.

But overall, the day was rather ‘blah’, and, by the end, I felt there was something wrong (and being paranoid, I thought I had done something, but I really don’t think it was me). Oh, and my mentor teacher finally had to give in and give this one student a detention (he’s very GT, ADHD, and he never pays attention or listens when he’s told to stop doing something). And there’s this other girl that gets on my nerves, because her attitude is very “I hate school; I hate English; I refuse to do anything; you can’t make me, either.” But that’s another story…


Homecoming theme: Viper Pride.
What I did: I just wore a blue shirt… although it was a bit lighter than our blue.

Funnily enough, the first period English 3 AP class pulled a prank on my mentor teacher with the principal. My mentor teacher always jokingly complains about starting talking in the morning, and then gets cut off by announcements, so she just keeps going on anyway. So some of the class went to the principal and gave him an idea… so this morning toward the end of the announcements, the principal was like “*Mentor Teacher Name*… *Mentor Teacher Name*… Are you talking while I’m talking?” It was so hilarious, especially because he paused after each one, so my mentor teacher thought he could really open the channel up to our room, so she was like “Yes” after each time. It was great.

In the regular English 3 classes, they went up to two vocab words for their warm-up in order to finish up their unit for vocab so they would have their quiz on Monday. Some of them then finished up their “Showing versus Telling” assignments, though that’s all second period did, as they were a day behind anyway. But for third through fifth period, we finished up going over the chapter on “Objects” with objects of a preposition, which everybody pretty much got down easily (and there were even students who seem to normally have difficulty with this stuff pick it up very easily and answered a lot). They then worked to do the review section of it for the rest of class.

In Creative Writing, they did the vocabulary review and used the rest of class as a make-up day (to finish up a lot of stuff that needed to be turned in by the end of the day). Amazingly enough, everybody (with two exceptions, though I knew that was going to be the case) turned it in and made perfect scores (or very nearly perfect), which was a vast improvement over the last time I took up their vocab reviews, in which pretty much everybody failed.

Friday was a pretty good day, overall. However, I did have to just break down in a couple classes and shout over them to shut up. I got into a semi-argument with one class (the class with the girl that refuses to do stuff, who was, naturally, one to argue with me) about doing their vocab upon coming into the classroom. The issue was that some students would be done, and others would barely be starting on writing down the word, slowing everybody else down. So I brought that up and got all sorts of back-talk about it, though I think I handled it mostly well. And in two other classes I had to cry out at the top of my voice for them to just be quiet as there was too much talking and too little working and people were asking the same questions over and over because they either couldn’t hear or weren’t paying attention. And then in my Creative Writing class (which is my loudest class), they got very loud, but they still ended up doing pretty well on their stuff and turned most of it in, so that was good anyway. That class is seriously a hoot (yes… I said hoot). It’s a laugh-a-minute.

But really, it was a very long week on the whole. I wasn’t the only teacher who was exhausted by mid-Monday and incapable of fathoming anything else but the end of the week. I seriously hope next week is better, because I really don’t want to have another week like this week again (at least anytime soon, as I know it’s inevitable). On the bright side, I asked my mentor teacher how I was doing now and if I had improved. She said I had greatly improved and have really stepped up and done so much better on pretty much everything I was having trouble with. I think the only thing she said I do now that I need to work on is my filler words during the awkwardness (she said I have a tendency to say “Okay… yeah” when I’m trying to think or process information after I read something or am asked a question). She also said she plans on video taping me teaching, too, pretty soon, so that’ll be interesting. And… I think that’s it for this week.

Stay tuned!


  1. Yeah, keep 'em coming. I enjoy reading about your process.

  2. Sorry, I'm a little behind in my reading of your blog. Anyway, this is great! Could you be a little more specific about how you go over vocab? I tried something new about a week ago, and though the students said it helped them, it was too damn time consuming to do again the same way. They have 20 words in a unit. My mentoring teacher usually just goes over the lame fill-in-the blank assignments with them, one a day. He reads the sentence, they fill in the blank. Bor-ring. I split it into 3 days, went 6-7-7, and assigned them to write a sentence for each word that night with the promise that the best ones would be used on the test. So, you figure, 20 sentences x 30 students x 5 classes (you do the math, I'm an English major!). I really read all of the sentences and I really did put the good ones on the test (though most of them were, He was adroit: The water was murky. Some were actually a little creative). What I did discover was that a lot of the kids didn't know the difference in what a synonym was in comparison to the original word. Synonyms are listed in their book so here's one: Word: viscous: synonym: sticky. Sentence: The lollipop was viscous. Okay, last time I checked a lollipop is very seldom,almost never, viscous. So I had this short teaching episode using the word big and asked for all of the synonyms they could think of and then used big in a sentence and asked if we could use all of the other words in place of big. They seemed to get the point, but the problem is, they don't know what the other words mean later. Ok. I promise to look at all of the other stuff you have posted. Right now I have to go to a football game. This week was homecoming for us too (I did dress up a little. We had PJ day: I wore flannels, What the heck are you wearing day: I just wore things that clashed, Alma Mater Day: I got to wear my college sweats, Rock Star Day: I dressed normal but I think I was secretly Brittany Spears in re-had by then, my week had taken such a dive south, and school colors day. Ok. I don't like football but it's part of our student teaching requirements to go to a game. Lucky me, the weather has turned cold. I'll probably get pneumonia!

  3. nuttier: lol... living in Texas, I would think it'd be a requirement for me to go to a football game. Thank God it isn't, because I hate football.

    Vocab differs depending on the class. For the regular English 3 kids, they have SAT Vocabulary, which is put together in a specific format already. There's the word, how to say it, the definition, and a link word (a word that both sounds similar... usually rhyming... but can also be used to help them remember the definition). The link word is also connected to a comic/picture below it that explains both. These mnemonic devices really help the kids remember. And then under those are four sentences.

    What we do is have them projected onto the board. Within the first five or so minutes of class (to use as an anticipatory set/warm-up), they come in, get their vocab composition books, and we start to go over it. I usually call on a 'power person' to come up and read everything for the rest of the class. They have to write down the word, the definition, the link word, and two of the sentences. There are ten sentences per unit, so it takes two weeks to get through one unit (giving one word a day), and they have a quiz on the Monday after. If you have 20 words per unit, give two words a day... it doesn't take that much more time.

    For the creative writing class, it's a lot different. There's twenty words each time. They'll do a synonyms worksheet one day. Then they'll have an antonyms worksheet later on in the week. And then by the end of the week, I give them a fill-in-the-blank vocab review (which I take up for a grade). I give them about 15 minutes to work on each of them before moving on. Then the following Tuesday, I give a test that is really simple, because my mentor teacher gives them like... half the answers in the explanation.

    That's about it for the vocab. Does that help any?

  4. hey man...

    how did your film go... the one you were talking about a day or two ago...


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