Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Observations VII

Today was my last day as "just an observer." !!! I left today, realizing that the next time I walk through those doors, I am going to be the teacher for approximately sixty students. Me. It's frightening, but it's becoming a more and more thrilling thought.

Today was such a bizarre day for observations that I'm glad I came in for a second day this week. I got my first stack of photocopies, which was exciting and requested eight more jobs. I probably would have sent in more, but I figured I ought to pace myself. They would all be random ones for the Journalism class; they have no textbook and there are a lot of good advice handouts in one of the books Amy picked up. Her first hour class watched the first half of Of Mice and Men. She left at nine (eighteen minutes before class ended) to go see the girls' basketball game, along with 800 of the other students. They had made it to state (and lost) so Amy went to the game; she had to break up a fight during the 3rd quarter. During 2nd and 3rd, I did prep work for student teaching, and during 4th I worked in the ELL room. I think this was the first time I had actually done some real hands-on work with the students.

It felt a little like being at Crosswinds. I was working with a group of three students, and I had to guide them through two worksheets. At first, we just kind of stared at one another, and I tried to help them, giving them hints. They had to do one sheet on male and female names. "Claudia and I are female, and Mario and Jose are....?" Like I said, they've only been here since December, so some of that worked, but complete sentences weren't quite working. I decided I had to suck up my pride and start acting a little sillier--I tried to act out things, like putting a beach towel on the sand. I tried to act out sunbathing. Finally, the thing that seemed to work the best, was to try to pronounce the words in Spanish. "Which word is most likely playo?" Of course, I intended to learn Spanish, but I don't think I quite intended to do it in such an embarrassing way. After my first week of teaching, I think I'm going to see how comfortable I am, and if it's going well, I might see if I can do a once-a-week kind of drop in to work with the same kids again.

Amy had an interesting 5th hour... I guess the day before in the computer lab she was having trouble getting them to turn their music/video games down. She gave them a big speech about how she couldn't possibly be the meanest teacher who wanted them to keep the music contained to headphones and keep the video game sound off. And if they thought she actually was, they were more then welcome to go around to all their 9th and so-far 10th grade teachers with a paper that said something like, "Ms Doherty is the only teacher at RAHS who wants the music and video game sounds completely off while in the computer lab, etc." If they got all of those teachers to sign it, they could have their music and video game sounds on during the period. One girl actually took her up on it. She didn't get very far; she just hung out with one of her special ed teachers from last year. That teacher signed the paper saying, "I side with Ms Doherty." The student hadn't meant to be cocky about taking it up on it; I think she was just trying to get them the "right" to listen to music out loud (she allows them to bring in headphones, she allows them to go on the internet when they say they're writing the paper at home, etc.--not something I will completely do myself--they can go on the internet once their papers are turned in, and music with headphones will always be fine--I understand that sometimes music helps you get through the writing... I've been trying to get through the second season of The Gilmore Girls that I borrowed from the library while I tackle my 10-15 page statement of philosophy, unit plan for Julius Caesar, journals for Beach, and ELL paper... not getting as far as I should--those literary references are so distracting).

Amy also told me about a cheating issue in her 4th hour class. She had a sub, who is more strict then she is, so she's surprised this got past her, so while she was grading this stack of quizzes from the sub's day, she discovered that some answers were eerily the same. And wrong in the same ways. Different adjectives. So it wasn't quite word-for-word. Sometimes when that is the case, she'll print out her expectations and highlight the part where it says if there is cheating, a zero is given and the administration is contacted. This time, since it wasn't so clear, she announced to the class something like, "I noticed that some of the quizzes were similar. I know some of you cheated, and here's your options--one, I could give you a zero and contact your parents and the administration or two, you could come to me before or after school, you'll still get a zero, but we won't involve those other people." (A science teacher had done this and instead of getting the two people he expected, he got something like six or eight people confessing!) The boy did come forward the next morning, and I think that's a good way when you aren't quite sure. Also, that gives the student the opportunity to own the responsibility. The thing that's the kicker is that it was just an eight point quiz! That's nothing. He would have gotten at least three points if he tried, he would have gotten five points with his reworded wrong answers, but instead he got zero for cheating. And it is kind of a blow to the teacher, you know? It's hard to not take these things personally! It's defiant and wrong and ugh...

And ironic that we talked about this the day after we talked about plagiarism (am I spelling that right?) in my class with Richard Beach. We talked about the ways to catch it (google, which is probably something I'll have to do with those reviews turned in, or that program where you submit the papers and they scan them--RAHS actually has it) and how to prevent it. I plan to have them turn in drafts (at least one--we'll do peer review or conferences with me on every paper, except for the one at the end of the year) and notes. Hard to have drafts and notes (unless you put some serious work into it) when you got your paper off the internet.

Watch out for a few of these:
Google answers

Paper Writers

(I thought there was just one, but I keep finding them... how depressing! How lazy!)

I also sent in an email to the Great River Shakespeare Festival, offering my services as a volunteer. It has a part of the form that asks what my credentials are or something like that... What services can you offer us? For once, I actually felt like I was somewhat able to answer that question with confidence. I'm getting my Master's in English Education. I will teach Shakespeare in May. I produced The Vagina Monologues for four years. Ta-da! So hopefully they'll shoot me an email pretty soon and I'll have something fun to do this spring and summer.

And in related news, I finally found that free National Endowment for the Arts video that my cooperating teacher used for her introduction to Julius Caesar unit. You have to have it mailed to the school where you teach, however. And since I don't have a mailbox, I might have to get one of my parents to order it for me. I would use my cooperating teacher to order it in, except she just ordered one for herself. Twice doesn't sound so good. Maybe I'll do it in care of; I feel guilty falsely ordering things. :)

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