Saturday, February 03, 2007

Recipe for Lemonade

It's been a crazy week full of new experiences. I'm not sure all of them are growth oriented but then that's up to me isn't it. When I look at the students I teach and how they struggle to make sense of their lives it all comes down to what you do with what you are given. Not all of my students are children and not all of them are ready to listen. Even so, I persevere in trying to help them make lemonade.

My schedule changed on Monday. I was directed to help out in a different classroom for 2 periods a day where the teacher was not having much success managing his classrooms of 6th graders. They have put two aids in his classroom to help him cover 4 periods and a special ed teacher comes in during another. This man would be a good teacher if he was more realistic about what his job wants of him. He wants to be the teacher of high quality knowledge to kids. He doesn't have kids who are ready for that. What he might be better off doing is looking at where his students are and helping them up that ladder. Instead he resists modifying the information he teaches to their level and says, "I feel like I am giving a substandard product if I do that." Well the reality of that is, he teaches so far over their heads that he teaches them nothing and they get no product at all.

On Tuesday I interviewed the assistant principal at the school I have been doing field experiences in. This was for my Early Childhood Development course and I learned a huge amount while doing that interview. Almost as important as what I learned was the respect I gained for that A.P.'s knowledge and people skills. He is and will be a good administrator. This is the school I hope to do my student teaching at. After that, should a position be open, I hope to be seriously considered by them. At the very least I hope to get some first rate recommendations from the people I've had frequent contact with.

Yesterday was one of those days when you hope things will go well because it is the end of the week. Instead the schedule got flexed all over the place due to teacher absences and I ended up gaining experience in some areas I have never hoped to. The BMC or ISS monitor needed to take some time off. The assistant principal told my new assigned teacher that he hoped to have both myself and the other aid help out in this area. We ran it by the special ed director and got reassigned temporarily with the addition of one more aid to the mix. So I went into BMC during 3rd & 4th periods. I ate lunch on the job. When that stint was done I ran down to help another teacher cover 2 periods of 8th grade science while the regular teacher was at an ARD. Then I ran back to the regular schedule I started on Monday. I ended up taking off 30 minutes early to keep the school from getting in trouble because I hadn't had a lunch break yet. While I was in BMC, I discovered why kids don't mind going there. They get to do very little work and often find their friends keeping them company so it is no real consequence for bad behavior.

That was my week! I don't mind chaos. I don't object to students playing games with me. I do object to outright defiance and disrespect. I do object to being walked through as if I don't exist when I am trying to enforce the rules. So, while I understand that the defiance and walking through me can be as much a game as the sass, I want to work in an elementary setting where I am more likely to find students wanting to try cooperation first. But all in all, I learned a lot during the past week and I think the lessons will come in handy. After all, it wasn't a bad week and I did have some successes. (g)


jsd said...

I feel for the kids with the teacher who doesn't seem to understand that true teaching means that you taylor your teaching to the abilities of your children. It's the learning that is important not the level at which you speak to convey it. He might as well be speaking Martian to them.

Lee said...

Thanks, JSD! I feel for the kids too. I also feel for the teacher because he has given up and is certain that he won't have a job here next year. I do what I can and yesterday was surprised that 2/3rds of the class was able to take notes on the video he had them watch when he wasn't supporting them in it. Heck, I had a hard time thinking up keywords for that video. I don't believe he noticed that they were able to do that.

Towards getting him to work with a more suitable and interesting style I am taking in a lesson plan that I pulled from a site founded by the National Science Foundation. It has 4 videos, 1 experiment and step by step instructions on how to teach it. I hope he accepts it and tries it out on the class.