Learning from Lessson

This week I co-taught a lesson with my Dyad partner on Academic Conversation to three blocks of 8th graders. It was a very interesting and helpful experience. We worked really hard to plan out the lesson and we thought about mostly everything. At least that is what we thought until we taught it.

We decided that for two blocks we would each have a bigger part to take over. For the first block I lead the conversation the second time my partners did it. By the third time we figured what we each did best and co-taught the lesson. Having the opportunity to observe and listen to each other was very valuable.

By the end of the experience I learned that my level of enthusiasm for the topic we teach is supper important. I was definitely not into H.P. Lovecraft’s dark style of writing or our other choice Edgar Allen Poe. Among the things that we did not plan for was that students would read the poem completely wrong and make the story more evil than it really was. Also we did not think about the chaos it would be to have 8th graders sit in a circle for academic conversation.

In the end, the students did demonstrate that they could have Academic Conversation without too much drama. Yet it took quite a bit to get them focused enough to do so.

I guess the thing that I struggled with the most was dealing with a genre that I did not like, what could I have done to not fixate on what I did not like?

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Una llamada positiva a casa/ A Positive Phone Call Home

Several weeks ago I was in a classroom and my Cooperating Teacher was discussing heroes and heroines. I walked by a student and said to him in Spanish that he might want to listen to the lecture. Later I overheard another student ask him what I had said and he said “she was speaking Mexican.” I did not think of saying anything and I sort of ignored it. However later the teacher was describing Mulan and she said she was from China, that same student mocked a person speaking Chinese. The teacher sent him to a buddy room, and then I felt the need to go and talk to him. We talked for a little bit about how he was doing in school and then about how it was not ok to put anybody else’s culture down and that it was not ok to do it with his own. I told him that we spoke Spanish not Mexican. I also continued telling him that his teacher thought he was capable of doing good work in class and I asked him if he could go back and be a part of his group, he said “yes.” He went back to class and worked with his group without getting in any more trouble.

After getting to know the student a little bit, I became interested in helping him out. I found out that he was the biggest bully in school and that he had gotten expelled more than once. I asked the CT if phone calls had been made home, she said that not many phone calls had been made because the parents don’t speak English and that they usually don’t pick up the phone. Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to do something positive for that same student. The CT gave me a possible name to contact his parents and instructed me to say that he was a bright student but that his attitude was sometimes a bit of a problem. I was very happy to make the phone call. In the beginning I was afraid it was just going to be an answering machine or that it was going to be an angry parent.  To my surprise it was not a machine and it was a work phone number of a very nice mom. I introduced myself and then asked her if I had her name correctly, she laughed and said no then she told me her correct name. I continued to tell her that I was very delighted to work with her son, that even though I was in her sons class for a little while it was nice to get to know him and help him in class. I also said that he was a very bright student and briefly mentioned that he had difficulties focusing in class. I also said that the teachers thought that he would do great in a challenge class. The parent responded very happy and thanked me for making the phone call. She also said that she was afraid it was just going to be another bad phone call to say how terrible her son was doing in school and laughed for a little bit. It was the best feeling ever to share something positive.

The student is still struggling in school and keeps getting suspended for bad behavior in others classes. I guess it is not as great as I thought it would be. I am not one of his teachers and I don’t see him every day, so I can only be like the outside observer occasionally looking in. I only wish I could do more. I also realize that to reverse a behavior that is already settled it might take years to undo.

To Be a Great Teacher

The last few weeks or months I have been thinking about myself as an Educator. Becoming Una Maestra has been my childhood dream but the journey has been long and grueling. At this point it would be silly to give up. However, I have really begun to fear that I don’t have what it takes to be a great teacher. I have fought hard not to give up but this is hard.

It takes great skill and courage to go out into a school and be the great teacher I envision myself to be.

Do I have the skills? Am I brave enough to face the challenges ahead of me? Can I be professional, speak up and collaborate?

These questions have been giving me nightmares and have made me freeze in my tracks. Absolutely, I have opinions and yes I want to contribute to my community but I have also let fears creep back in about who I am. I can’t possibly represent so many voices that are not heard, how am I suppose to do that?

I could take it a step at a time and also recognize that everything we do takes time to learn and hopefully this will be enough to begin with.