The sound the past week-and-a-half-ish made as it flew by me.
I’ve officially been teaching all four of my classes for two weeks now, and it’s been quite the ride already. If you’ve been reading my blog before now, you already know that my first few days were exciting and wonderful and intimidating and nerve-wracking and encouraging all at once, and my days since then have been equally as interesting. Teaching challenges me on a consistent basis, and I love the interactions that I watch and have with my students. Props to those of you who do it, and nothing against you, but I can’t imagine being stuck in an office or a cubicle all day with little to no human interaction. One thing that I can definitely say about teaching so far is that it is never boring, and that is definitely a plus.
I’ve started all four of my classes (two standard and two AP) with Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. I’m really happy that this is my first text because it’s light-hearted, comedic, and short, so the students have (for the most part) enjoyed reading it and studying it with me. It’s also a satirical play, and satire has proven to be such a fun genre to teach! I’ve managed to incorporate The Daily Show/The Colbert Report and Scary Movie and hilarious YouTube videos like this one – and the students just eat it up. Satire is extremely culturally relevant, and it’s nice to begin my time with these students with a blatantly relevant genre/text. They learn without even realizing it, and I get to look like a cool, hip student teacher in the process Not to mention it’s been super convenient to not have to make separate lesson plans! I get to try things out on my AP students first, and then a few days later modify my lessons and try them again with some changes on my standard students, who are just a few days behind in the text. It’s a constant learning process, and I’m lucky that I get several chances to improve my lessons for Earnest.
Besides the text (which I LOVE – if you ever get the chance to read or see a production of The Importance of Being Earnest, you absolutely should because LOL IT IS FUNNY), I’m obviously enjoying a lot of other aspects of student teaching, the first and foremost being my students themselves. I’ve mentioned this before, but they’re just so smart and cultured and opinionated and loud and funny. Each of my four periods has a distinct personality, and figuring out how to navigate and perform my role as teacher has been extremely enlightening.
I start my day with a planning period, which is SO nice because it gives me a chance to print/make copies/prep first/get a lot of work done first thing in the morning, which cuts down on the amount of time I have to stay after school to prep for the following day. Second and third period are my two standard senior classes, and they are a TRIP. They like me and interact with me, and seem genuinely interested in getting to know me. For the most part they pay attention, and they always always ALWAYS respond to my questions, so I try to make the lessons discussion-heavy. The biggest challenge for me in terms of these students is that at least one third of both second and third period are ELL students (English Language Learners – aka,English is not their first language, or, for some of them, even their second or third). I try to modify my lessons for these students, and give them a lot of individual attention, but sometimes I worry that what I’m saying just isn’t getting through, particularly for one girl who doesn’t give me a lot of verbal feedback. I know that these students have a lot to offer to the discussion, and I hate feeling a disconnect between us on some occasions.
Following third, I have fourth planning, then lunch, then fifth planning, which means that I have a nice big chunk of time in the middle of the day to grade whatever assignment second and third period completed and prep for sixth and seventh, which are my two AP classes. Sixth period is by far my most challenging period, and I often end the period feeling somewhat disheartened and frustrated. Many of the students don’t have an interest in getting to know me, don’t respond to my enthusiasm and discussion questions, and don’t enjoy my lessons. Obviously there are some exceptions, but for the most part I feel like I haven’t been able to connect with sixth period for some reason. I put a lot of time and thought into creating my lessons, and am open to chatting and having fun – I want my lessons to be fun for both of us. I feel like I’m coming my 50-75%, but the students aren’t meeting me anywhere. Ironically, they chat with each other the entire class period. I do more classroom management in sixth than I do in any of my other classes, and I don’t think they respect me as much as my other periods do. Seventh period is on the opposite end of the spectrum – which is not to say they’re angels by ANY stretch of the imagination. However, they do like me, respond well to me, enjoy my lessons, and, I think, respect me. They certainly misbehave, particularly a clique of three boys and two girls, but they quiet when I ask, and this same clique participates most heavily in class discussions. Additionally, they make me laugh, and I always end seventh period back on Cloud 9 after the challenges of sixth. However, both of these classes are very challenging particularly because most of the students are EXTREMELY smart but incredibly lazy. A lot of them are in the class for the wrong reasons and don’t actually care about the grade that they make (hey, even a C is a GPA boost), but I do feel pressure to perform more for these students because some of them probably know more or have higher IQs than I do. I’m not just saying that either – one of my students in 7th period reads French philosophy. In French. For fun. In his spare time. Although he’s one of my sweetest, most well-behaved students, I do feel intimidated. But it’s nice to be challenged by my own students!
I always try to end my days on a great note regardless of how one or two (or all) of my classes went that day. After school, I typically head down to my roommate’s classroom (she’s also student teaching) to do some grading/planning for an hour or so before heading home for the night. And boy am I exhausted at the end of the day. I’ve never slept better in my entire life, and I’m typically asleep before my head even hits the pillow, but it’s definitely, definitely worth it.
Whoosh. The sound I expect the next several weeks will make as they fly by me.
P.S. My roomie and fellow student teacher Holly has also started a blog – check it out here!