Friday, December 19, 2008



see you all in two weeks!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the month of december is the craziest month

so says my mentor teacher. J. must be right, because the kids, in recent days, at least some of them, have gotten really out of sorts. why is december the craziest month? well, the holidays (christmas, for them, i suppose) are coming up, and what does that mean? it's money crunch time. it's present shopping time. it's family they never want to see, and family they might be reminded of that they just can't see. i don't know. the kids. it's strange. what i got myself into is the drama that has unfolded (YOU'RE RUINING OUR FRIENDSHIP!) (BUT I DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING!) (YOU KNOW IT'S CAUSE YOU LIKE R.!) (BUT I DON'T...I MEAN I DID...BUT I DON'T NO MORE). sixth grade girls.

bullying is: stealing I.'s stuff and hiding it. ripping the shower curtain open while she's in it (gym). spreading rumors. nasty, nasty stuff going on. girls are mean. do guys do shit like this? i hope not! although boy bullies sure are nasty, themselves.

all that left me just completely and utterly drained. i was so involved in trying to get things settled and straight and just dumbfounded by all the shit that was flying out of the bullies' mouths and the poor look on I.'s face. it cut into my actual teaching time. actually, it cut into ALL of my teaching time. it was ridiculous--i left J. there with no idea of what i was actually doing, and i'm sure she reached into the far corners of her butt and pulled out what she could. it seemed to work: the kids presented what needed to be done, and everyone is more ahead in that class than my other class. that leads me into a nice segue into...

my two classes: 208 and 203. i imagined that both were going to be very, very hard to manage. 208 worse than 203, for some reason. it seems it's been the opposite. 203 is my ADHD class, and 208 my behavioral/strong personality class. well, it seems like 208's been really great to me. attentive, participatory; they want to express their ideas; they do their homework (!!); and my strong personalities have changed in the past few days, so i'm pretty happy about that. 203, like i said, has been my terrible, no good, very not nice class to me recently. they've been very loud, disrespectful, and distracted several days. well, yesterday, something might have clicked: E.'s mom was in the class right before E. came in from gym. he must've been extremely surprised! he had no clue about it. i had a talk with her afterward, and gave her notice of the homework for the night: to read a poem and write a paragraph, etc. seems to've worked: today he was attentive (although still a bit distracted by his ID chain), and involved in the conversation about the poem. he's wicked smart, this one, and all he needs to do is buckle down and focus. and focus he did this afternoon (at the end of the day, no less!). the story:

the class was their usual selves. and i was having trouble, and absolute trouble getting them to quiet down when someone or i was talking. so, i remembered something that worked amazingly in gym, and with J. at one point: one full minute of total silence. strangely enough, it worked amazingly. amazingly! people were talking, and i kept adding minutes, announcing it as the talk continued (GROAAAAN...COME ON!!!). when J. came back into the room, she said she could hear a pin drop. after three minutes, i passed out sheets for the different assignments we're doing based on the webquest on "surviving adolescence." i gave a small talk about how i had the power right now because i was speaking, and that when i have that power, all eyes should be on me, the room silent, because i am controlling the room now. i read the sheet of paper in utter silence (!!!) and calmly told the students, two by two, to get their laptops and to log onto the website. E. was doing marvelously, and T., who also is a source of trouble 'cause of his spaced-outtedness and general unapologetic attitude toward his actions (or complete unawaredness of said actions), was doing extremely well, too! the day ended excellently, and i was quite happy with the outcome. so, that class went very, very well. let's hope tomorrow's the same story!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

growing pains

it's been a bit of a while since i last posted. but there have been many things that've come up. the boy who i had "the talk" with has seemed to start confiding in me, and i think wants to hang out with me during lunch time. this is extremely flattering!!! i mean, come on! who doesn't want to hang out with this kid? he's mischievous and a little troubled by certain things at home--like i alluded to in my last post--but he's pretty nice when we get to regular facts. he's actually very nice. at what point, i'm wondering, is being a confidant too much? not now, at least, because it seems like he wants to talk to me, tell me things about his life, i'm guessing.

tomorrow i read a poem on the school's tv station (we have one! pretty neat, eh?). i'm announcing that in january, i'll be absolutely on about students reading poems on the station as well. if not, i'll keep reading them. but the idea is that students want to read, and they should, and should practice with me as well--after school or during lunch, etc. i hope this thing goes on. if not, then i'll just pick 'em and read each week. i mean, i don't mind it.

i broke down in one of my grad classes yesterday: i'm having a tough time with my mentor teacher. Ms. B is actually a wonderful teacher. but, she's organized in a way i am not experienced enough to be organized, if that makes sense. basically, she's too experienced, and hasn't trained me or given me any guidance or feedback on my teaching, when i do teach. so, i finally swallowed my embarrassment and overwhelmed self and went to talk to her. i told her some (emphasis on the italics...there are lots) of my concerns with her--especially on feedback, and she said she absolutely agreed. in fact, she had finally realized this as she read my journal (i know, i know, you keep too many journals, andrew, come on!)-cum-lesson -planner that mentioned me wanting to do my own thing (in terms of always coming into class not knowing what the lesson of the day is going to be...this happened a lot...i wanted to begin to make my own lessons), and then independently realized she wasn't giving any feedback. so, the conversation has begun and will continue, i think, all next week, when she gives me feedback on the different things that i need to know. for example:
  • handling discipline in the classroom
  • classroom management and redirection approaches
  • delivery of content
  • time management
  • clarity of thoughts/expressing thoughts or explanations
  • learning targets
  • do i teach to a certain side of the room?
  • individual attention--too much, too little?
  • accomodating kids with IEPs
those are just a few that i could think of, for now. i'm sure there's more. we'll see how things go. but for now, the process is going forward, which is good. now all i need to do is get all the many, many papers i need to write out of the way this weekend. yikes.