Tuesday, April 05, 2005

After School and Tired Students

I stayed after school with seven students (six from English 10B and one from Journalism). Whew! They were able to get some things out of the way though, which is great. For them. Now I have to grade a lot of random things! It's already seven, and I have so much to do... I want to finish grading all of the stuff I'm behind in grading, I want to plan for tomorrow... last night I was able to finish up the second draft of my resume and e-mail that to Jill, so at least I can't feel completely awful about not working hard at the job search. I plan to print out and fill out an application per day (as well as write the cover letter, though I want a rough cover letter I will revamp for each/most) for the next few weeks. Um, starting tomorrow. :)

My students are pretty exhausted. Mostly from me, but from other stuff too...

I keep thinking that I want another chance to do this over again. I want another chance, and soon, to teach To Kill a Mockingbird. Sure, there are a lot of things I would do the same.

#21. Your first unit won't be perfect. That's OK. You can use what you learned from this one to plan the next.
#22. ORGANIZE. Binders, sheet protectors, thematic tabs...
#23. Talking and writing are a serious skill.

Here's how I do it (organizing, of course). I originally was going to keep it all according to chronology. I thought that was logical--a student asks for a handout that they lost, and I could look it up according to date. I want to reference what I did to cover such-and-such, so I can look it up according to a date. I would write out each lesson plan and put that at the beginning of each section with any handouts and/or overheads following.

Yeah. I ended up just chucking everything into the beginning of the binder and moving on. That's partly because as soon as my class was over, I would have to move out of the way for Amy, but when she gives me her binders to look through, it's the same thing. "The things in the front are probably the things I've used most recently." Four hours a day, or five, or three, depending on how many minutes go into each class period... we have to chuck it all, especially if there's another prep.

This past weekend I went and bought a million binders and sheet protectors (Ryan said I was apparently going overboard, but that's all a matter of opinion...) and organized them--To Kill a Mockingbird, Inherit the Wind, Research and Life is Beautiful (as I go on teaching, it will probably just be a research methods binder--there are a million different ways to approach it), and Julius Caesar (I already have a binder of other people's material, so it's up to me to compile that and make an awesome binder of their stuff plus mine), Journalism, etc. Organize it according to theme... I have it organized by journals, vocabulary quizzes, reading quizzes, unit test, overhead general notes, comprehension activities, interpretive/creative activities, unit projects. Right now my TKAM binder is thin, but Amy said I could go through her binder, and another teacher at RAHS, Jo Anne Richelli, gave me a few graphic organizers that help her freshman, which I will adapt according to the unit.

I also plan to go back and add the activities I would have done if I could do the unit again. It's fresh in my mind right now, and I want to make sure I have it all organized and straightened out. I actually have my TA cutting out pictures and pasting them onto index cards that I will use if I ever teach TKAM again. They're pictures from American Memory, and I would have them do some kind of frontloading activity in the first chapter or so... we could write a town poem or a brief story, etc. Less worksheet-type stuff, which is something I went into teaching thinking I wouldn't do... More notes as a large group / on the overhead. Anyway, I am going to put up a TKAM lesson up on my teaching page, so look for that in about a week or so, depending on how crazy things get. (I'm spending the weekend in Winona, and though I could do it there, everything is saved here... too much of a pain, etc.) But I plan to put it all up there--overhead notes, discussion questions, etc. There are a few things that are not my own, so I'll need to e-mail the teacher(s) that those belong to so I can make sure they won't be upset if I allow public access, but since they were so willing to give it to me, I'm sure they wouldn't mind. And obviously, they could use it as a reference (to their own stuff as well as other people's stuff) and send it along to anyone else who asks for help.

I think one of the very most important things that we need to remember as educators is that we are a community. Often it's easy to get swept up into our classrooms and forget the world outside, but sharing things (and helping new teachers become better) is fabulous. I tried to foster that as much as I could (honestly, I wish I did more, and I know I could have) with my cohort before we began teaching. (I have a huge stack of books lent out... poor Lora must have broken her back bringing a stack of poetry books back to her car!) I also have a ton of writing resources (prompts) as files uploaded into my office (you can search for "Molly") at TappedIn, so if anyone wants to download those, that might help for anyone who is teaching creative writing... or just plain old interested in creative writing!

I have to add, before I post this, that I hope things are easier for Amy having me teach. I know I use up a lot of her second hour to ask her questions, but what I hope is that she doesn't have to spend as much time working on grading, and I know she doesn't have to do a heck of a lot preparing because she's taught these classes many times.

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