Monday, March 14, 2005

... And this is the After

Indeed, I made it through my first day of teaching. No stomach issues, no sleep deprivation. I didn't get into bed until 11:30, and I read for half an hour, which means I only got about six hours of sleep. (Good thing I didn't have to teach first hour!) I actually credit my fairly calm nerves with my incredibly fabulous boyfriend Ryan. He spent the night last night, and although I had a bout of nerves in the afternoon while we were running errands (which was supposed to distract me), and I think that kept me from any serious nervousness. Ryan's a pretty patient person, and it helped me to not fret; perhaps his being her pre-emptively prevented being frightened.

I observed Amy's first and fourth hour classes to get an idea of how her first day usually goes. She had them write answers to seven questions that were basically the same as my list of questions, though she also added what they do for extra hobbies as well as outside forces that might prevent them from doing the best job in her class. After this, she went over expectations, and then she began frontloading for the research unit. She had them brainstorm ideas for issues in education and asked some questions like, "Who should decide what you learn?" etc. I'll have to keep that in mind when I start the research unit (this is my middle unit, the third of five).

So. My first day.

During second hour, her planning period, I wandered up and down the aisles of the classroom. I felt pretty cagey. I did get the podium, which worked out well for me because I have an organizing system that requires a bit of space! I bought those plastic storage sleeves and a big binder and have been putting each handout into them. It starts with the lesson plan, then any kind of information I might need in the order in which I plan to present it. I figure if I'm uber-organized, I might have a better chance, but who knows?

The two truths and a lie activity did not go well with the English 10B class. Part of that was my fault. I asked them if they had ever done the activity and a bunch of kids said yeah, so I told them that's what we were doing... One person asked if we could work in groups and I said yes, but they would have to report back to the class. I should have also said--this is your chance to show me that you can work in groups--otherwise, we would do large group discussion and individual writing if they couldn't handle the responsibility of working on their own. I think I might say that tomorrow. Because when we went around for the two truths & a lie, they would make it up on the spot and didn't try to hide it at all. I had to basically call on students the whole hour and did it randomly. I didn't get to all of them because I tried to get some to volunteer, but they shook their heads. So I left it at that and gave them their vocabulary and their books (actually, my TA Allyce handed them out and wrote down the numbers to the books). They had chapters 1-8 for vocabulary and had to read chapters 1 & 2, both for Wednesday. They weren't thrilled about the vocab--Amy said one of her former students said she would never have them look up so many words, and Amy said she was having her own students look up twice as many. Ha, ha. I told Amy I was kind of bummed that they were reacting to the work already (though vocab on the first day is pretty mean), and she told me something that made me feel a bit better--this is setting a precedent that I am a serious teacher and I take theirs and my work seriously. And honestly, I wanted to come off as pretty serious so that they would know I do expect a high level of work from them--they won't just slide through the semester, and I don't think they would truly want that either. (Yeah right--if they could pass without having to read or do homework--woo hoo!)

With the Journalism class, they did the same activity (two truths and a lie), but I first explained how it worked and how they would have to think of questions for one another to find out the lie in the bunch. I told them my two truths and a lie, and explained that they would work in groups of five to practice their truths and lie and interrogation. I also required that they write them down and turn them in. I had no trouble getting volunteers, which was great, and the class was completely willing to ask questions to find the lie--and they asked good ones too. I'm pretty excited about this bunch, though I know they are skeptical about me. That's OK; I hope to prove to them that I'm a pretty decent teacher too. (I overheard one say to another, "I kind of wish Ms Doherty was teaching this class," which, of course, made my heart sink. The thing is, they don't know me yet, so I have ever chance to show them this class can be enjoyable too, and I also need to not take things like that too personally. I need to develop thicker skin and realize that it's OK if a student doesn't like me. That's going to happen over and over again. And the thing is, my mother is a pretty tough teacher, but she's also well liked. She had so many students returning to French that they ended up having to bring in another teacher to take some of the French 1's.)

So, tomorrow. I have them doing reader-response in 10B; they will read Sylvia Plath's poem "Mushrooms" without the title and discuss how meaning comes to text. Journalism will do some work on how to create a review; if I can get a DVD player, they will do a brief review on Napoleon Dynamite. (If not, I rented Dead Poet's Society from the library.) We'll also do an activity with tabloids--blech, I actually had to buy some! I only got three, so I will either have to get some more tonight or tomorrow morning (can I get up that early? I don't want to go out again tonight) or find some stuff on the internet... I might just do the internet.

Oh, and here's something interesting--I found out that today is my cooperating teacher's birthday. I won't have time or energy to do it tonight, but probably tomorrow--I think I'll make her some cowboy cookies. It seems appropriate--not too much of a present and yet still doing something. She's a very private person (she likes to say she tries to keep a low profile), and I don't think she ever told me.

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