Sunday, February 05, 2006

Going With the Flow

I've been thinking a lot about the differences between CT's teaching style and that of the teachers I worked under last semester.

I'm beginning to think that one of the reasons my last internship didn't run smoothly is because the way I think about education - the way I learn and want to present information - was too different from the way my former mentors did things.

Before I got booted from my old school, I was in the process of putting together a poetry unit to present to the kids when I got back from semester break. I had spent a good amount of time on the thing; I had pulled poems from popluar and obscure poets, I had song lyrics and haiku and limericks (some I'd made up myself, even). I had great ideas about doing a concrete poetry lesson, a found poetry lesson, and about writing odes to everyday things. I wanted to have fun with the unit, and to see how many kids I could get excited about something that usually draws groans from the field of desks.

When I passed my ideas on to my former mentor, though, she all but shot them out of the sky. She told me that we had a textbook for a reason, and that we had a particular curriculum to follow. The students would be entering their sophomore classes under teachers who expected them to know certain things and to be familiar with the poems in the book. There was no room for my ideas, no time for the "extra" stuff that I thought would make the study of poetry a little more palatable to the freshmen. I was essentially told to take my big old cruise ship and pass it through a lock intended for a lobster boat.

Not so now. My CT has a curriculum to follow, of course, but she prefers to teach in a more natural way. She incorporates poetry into nearly every unit she does. If there's a good spot to stop and talk about how a particular piece of writing connects to a particular song, or movie, or another piece of writing, she stops and talks about it. Her style is much more free form and natural, and I'm fitting into it easily.

I was bothered, at my former placement, by how regimented things felt. There were lists to be checked off. Odyssey? Check. Poetry? Check. Commas and semi-colons? Check. I was forever worried that I'd miss a checklist item, or that I wouldn't cover it sufficiently to meet the criteria. Here, though, I don't think I'll worry about it quite so much. The kids get to learn things in a way that makes much more sense to me - in a way that my own children learn things. Things are taught when they naturally occur, when they are relevent and necessary and fit into the progression of things - not when their day comes up on the list. I think this method helps students really understand the point of whatever they're learning, and may help them retain the information in more useful ways, since that learning is connected to something else that helps give both items meaning.

Does that make any sense at all?


Post a Comment

<< Home