Friday, October 10, 2008

"By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn." - Latin Proverb

Week 1

This is my first week at my middle school placement in Lansing. When I got there around noon, I was in a remedial English class. The kids were doing SRA for the beginning of the hour. The teacher handed me a novel and told me to model good reading. I sat down and tried to read, but was more focused on the dynamic of the classroom and the students. There was a comfy chair in the corner that some kids were using; the other desks were in an arc shape in two rows. Students were sitting in various spots around the room and some were eating snacks. To me, the class looked out of sorts and chaotic; no one was reading and most of them were taunting or bugging someone who was reading. The teacher, Ms. C*, was trying to keep some order, but it seemed she had been down this road before. Once SRA was over, she moved on to the book they were reading as a class. She asked for recaps of what happened last time they read and anyone who said a real in-depth answer got a jolly rancher. They were really into this and all wanted a shout an answer. After the recap session, we took turns reading parts of the book. Ms. C would call on someone and they would read a few lines, then she would call one someone else. If the student doesn’t like reading in class, they were able to only read one line and then stop. She even incorporated me, as well as herself. We finished the hour with a name game. She writes someone name on the board and asks the students to make one sentence using each letter of my name as the start of the word. SARAH= Susan and Ron are hungry. It makes kids things critically and they all compete to get an answer right. The second class I was supposed to be in was an eighth grade English class. It was picture day, however, so they went to take pictures for some of that hour. When they came back, I took three students down to the media center to work on using homophones like: they’re, their, there and to, two, too. The day was crazy because all the students were excited for picture day. They did not have to wear their uniforms, so they were all confident and proud of what they had on instead of their usual clothes.

I have a great mentor teacher and I really enjoyed my first week in the middle school classroom. Eighth graders have so much energy and enthusiasm, although they are not always thrilled be doing English. Ms. C. tries to really make the class fun, especially for the remedial learners because they already do not want to be there. They struggle with reading and writing and often times give up because they have been labeled “bad” at it. I’m personally working on giving the students positive feedback and guidance. I do not want to give them the answers, so I try and offer different ways of explaining the questions. I know it’s challenging when there are twenty kids in the classroom, who all need your help. So as an addition to the classroom, I try and make myself useful and work with the students to get engaged with the material. I know this sounds overly optimistic, but I guess that’s a good quality in a pre-service teacher. I know how to be realistic when I need to be and that is usually my personality. You just hear about so many burnt out teachers, I think it’s nice to dream. :) Alright, enough for now, more later…

*I have changed names to protect people’s privacy.

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