Sunday, February 06, 2005


I made my expectations handouts for both English 10B and Journalism today (and last night). It was really strange and I think it's OK to admit this, but I've always wanted to make my own expectations. I used to get frustrated when teachers weren't fair and I'd wonder what I would do differently. Ryan is here in the Twin Cities for the weekend, so I asked him--do you think taking 10% off per day for late work is OK? (My cooperating teacher takes of 25% on the first day and 50% for every day after and doesn't accept work after the last day of the unit. She seems more laid back then I am, but in this case, I think I might end up being a little more leniant, as long as they aren't turning things in on the last day of class--I said I won't accept anything after the unit, though I might up to a week afterwards. I know I won't be able to grade everything that night and students who were legitimately absent will trickle things in anyway.) Turns out, turning things in late is one of Ryan's pet peeves; I told him that plagerism is mine. I guess we all have to pick our battles. I also tried really hard not to focus on the kinds of things that were "You must not..." (Though I followed the instructions of the foundations classes--try not to be negative when making classroom rules... Instead of telling them that they cannot plagerize, I tell them that if they do plagerize, they will be referred to the administration and receive a zero on the assignment. Action, consequence. It's up to them.) I hope my expectations aren't unreasonable--I also mentioned the fact that I am more than happy to grant extensions, provided that they talk to me about it and are honest.

I'm going to work on making handouts for the research unit. I am going to basically use what my cooperating teacher uses, which I think is a great idea (though she varies it every year with other fun ideas). She has them pick a controversial topic in education (busing, hats/coats in schools, video surveillance, metal detectors, etc.) and they use ELibrary to do a lot of their research (the librarians will show them how to do that, thank goodness). She requires five sources, and that feels about right, so I'll do the same. I like the idea of their researching something in education because then they get a voice about the issues, and I can gauge where they're at as far as opinions on education (I definitely know how I feel about the issues, but I don't know a high schooler's point of view so clearly). Of course, everything will vary. Another topic she gives them is to research a decade (1930s, etc.) and sometimes she gives them an element of ancient Rome to research (so when she does the unit on Julius Caesar, they end up keeping a journal from the point of view of someone who lived there--a market worker, a gladiator, etc.). I would do the ancient Rome one, but I think I would be more interested in researching an issue and much more interested in reading about one at this point.

So that takes care of the research unit. Life is Beautiful is done, and I am close to being done with To Kill a Mockingbird. Next--I plan to get Inherit the Wind done and leave Julius Caesar be until I get at least three units done for my Journalism class. Now that I have an outline for the class, I need to get working. Like I said, I'd like to be a month ahead of schedule, if not much much more.

That whole "Action, consequence. It's up to them" bit seems to be Ms Doherty's attitude towards a lot of things. She said when she was first teaching, she used to try to wake up the sleeping kids all the time and get on them about keeping on task, but then she realized that some of them were getting 3% with only three weeks left, so there was no way they could pass. They're old enough to not need to be baby-sat. I think it's excellent that I have her as a cooperating teacher because I feel a little stiff about these things--she let kids sit up on this bookcase ledge she has running along the wall through the period, some girl was blatantly writing a note to her friend, etc. I don't want to be someone who polices my classroom all the time; it's not worth the energy. Recognizing when to step in and when to let it go is an important skill that I don't think I have yet... when they were watching The Mighty on Friday, a lot of her last period kids were loud, but when we stepped into the hall, she said that she let it go because they were reacting to the movie; when they were getting exceptionally loud she said, "The side conversations need to end." And they did. When she couldn't get their attention at the beginning of the hour, she said something like, "If you can't quiet down, I'll just assign you more homework, and I have no problem doing that." And they quieted down.

The kids seem to like her a lot, and I think that's effective when you want to get things done--you're more likely to go out of your way to get something done for someone you like then for someone you don't. I'll try to show them that I'll go out of my way to help them, if they need it and come to me.

No comments: