Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Reflections on Solo Week

It's strange for me to see that I've not posted in a while - my mind has been so focused on the work that I'm doing that it seems strange that I' haven't yet have put it in writing.

Solo week went very, very well. I can't really say that I was nervous about the experience, though there was an odd feeling of apprehension going into it. I'm getting to know the students and have a pretty good handle on the dynamics of the classes, I've been primarily responsible for lesson planning for a couple of weeks now, and I knew, going in, that I would be well supported. I've been reflecting on the week, though, and here's a sampling of what I've learned:

-It is, for the most part, very easy for me to develop relationships with students, both individually and as a class. There are really only two kids out of about ninety that I haven't quite connected with yet, and I'm fairly certain that I never will, so I'm not beating myself up over it (though there WILL be other posts about those two, so stay tuned).

-I am very easily distracted. Take, for example, the AP class. On Wednesday (their block day, so it's a long period), I had a list of things planned out to do with them. I was first going to talk about Hamlet, the reading they'd done the night before. When we'd talked about three specific things (the students' perception of Hamlet's true state of mind, the scene in which Claudius finds he cannot pray, and Shakespeare's lack of stage direction and what implications that has for artistic interpretation), I was going to show a clip of Gibson's film and ask the students to write an essay comparing the scene to the same scene in the text. When we had finished that, I was going to ask them to define a few of the rhetorical terms we'd given them to investigate earlier in the previous week, then give them homework asking them to choose a character from Bel Canto - another book we'd read together - and write an interior monologue from that character's perspective.

We got SO involved in the discussion about Hamlet that we never made it past the first issue; we spent almost the entire class talking about whether or not Hamlet was actually crazy. It was such a rich discussion, and the students brought up so many fine points about the text, that I didn't WANT to change the topic. I had almost 100% participation, the students were debating amongst themselves - it was beautiful. I finally stopped them toward the last 10 minutes of class to show them the clip, and gave them the comparative writing assignment as homework.

-There are a lot of policies that I'm going to establish in my own classroom when (if) I get a job as a teacher. It is very easy for things to get confusing - for students to claim that they've turned something in when they really haven't, to forget to take attendance, for it to take ten minutes for the students to get settled into their work - when there aren't set expectations in place from the very beginning. I find that I crave a bit more order than the students are used to under CT, and I've been formulating what these should be and how they should be implemented for the last week or so.

-While teaching full time doesn't necessarily make me tired, it does make me hungry. I was told to expect a very difficult week - that I wouldn't sleep well, that I'd be preoccupied and overwhelmed and would have little time to be with my family for all the planning and correcting I'd be doing. I found that not to be the case, though I do really wish that I'd stocked the faculty room refrigerator with yogurt - I found I DID need extra protein.

There were a few things I would change if I could, but this happens to me EVERY DAY, so I'm not dwelling too long on that. My hindsight is perfectly 20/20 - I drive home every day thinking that I SHOULD have said this or brought up THAT point or made THIS reference; it's sometimes very difficult to consider all the possibilities in the moment. Overall, though, I'm very satisfied with the job I did.

I'm pretty sure I can pull this job off for real.


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