Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Road Thus Far

Just so I don't have to repeat this so many times:

1. My first week of teaching was great. I really enjoyed it. My kids are pretty well behaved and only my 8th graders really give me any trouble.

2. I'm teaching 7th grade, 8th grade, 9th grade, creative writing, and 8th grade reading and writing. My class sizes range from 9-23. There was a lot of last minute enrollment which increased a few of the classes. I teach in a rural community where everyone knows your name at this school. I've also run into several of my students while out and about town. I was having dinner with Allese last night and I ran into one of my 7th graders and his family. I couldn't for the life of me remember the kid's name so I had to just pretend like I knew.

3. I spend a lot of time planning lessons, but I usually stray from my script if there is a teachable moment.

4. I'm willing to negotiate with my students to an extent; however, some things are inexcusable. One of my students called another student "gay" so I gave them a morning detention with me. That kind of language just isn't tolerated in my classroom. You don't need to yell to get a student's attention. In fact, when I really want to make an impact, I speak a little softer and stare them down.

5. I try to make my classes interesting. I've been taking advantage of the fact that I'm only separated by a few years in age from my students. I know about things like youtube, myspace, facebook, aim, msn, and well, the internet. For my 9th graders I had them simulate an AIM conversation on the board to start our discussion of genre. Unfortunately we ran out of time to do what I really wanted to do, so I had to cut that lesson somewhat short. Sometimes it's ok to shoot from the hip when teaching.

6. A lot of my students hate reading and writing. They hate it with a passion. The funny thing is, most of them see a value in it. While not all of my students read by themselves, more students read to others. When I asked them why, they said because their brother or sister liked it. In that sense I could tell that they saw a value in the reading and writing process though they didn't value it themselves. My goal is to change that attitude.

I've been trying to find readings that my students enjoy. My 8th grade reading and writing class and I had a discussion on slang by discussing motocross. I printed out a few articles concerning it. I also printed an article about the dangers of letting children and adolescents ride dirt bikes which was pretty much rejected by some of my students.

7. I've implemented a message board for all of my classes. Each week I have the class come up with a question to discuss and then they go and tack up their responses to either the question or other student's responses. My only rule is to be respectful and sign the note.
8. I've encountered several problems that were never covered in any of my teacher training. Gotta learn some of these things by experience. A few times I realized I made the wrong choice, but they weren't big issues. Without going into specifics at all, a few of my students are dangerous to not only themselves but to other students. I question their reintroduction into the classroom period.

9. The seating chart is saving my ass. It works for me because my students are well behaved enough to actually follow the seating chart. I can imagine a few school settings where a seating chart would be impossible to enforce or it wouldn't be worth the effort to do it. By using a seating chart, I separate the troublemakers and can put the students who need help with the students who can give help.

10. Poetry is a pretty standard part of my teaching. Many teachers shy away from poetry until the last few weeks. They treat it like an exotic bug to be taken out of the glass cage every once in a while to admire and study, then hastily shut back in.

11. I remember being an ornery cuss in middle school. My 8th grade reading and writing class is payback for that.

12. I wouldn't call myself a good teacher yet. Committed, yes, but I'll wait until the year is over to assess my actual performance. How many lives have I changed and minds set afire? I can look out into my sea of students and tell which ones are standing on cracks, waiting to slip down. Success for some, is not success for all and I wonder what I can do to have a 100% success rate with these kids.

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