Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A request

My Fulbright Teacher Exchange interview is this Saturday! I've got to drive almost 150 miles to get there, and I'm a bit worried about finding the place, and making sure I get to the right room on time, but that's not my main concern.

I've requested an exchange in the United Kingdom; my first choice being Scotland. Then, Wales, Ireland, and England. I picked these countries instead of something more... exotic, because I want to continue teaching English, rather than English as a second or foreign language. I want my students here to have the experience of a non-US English speaker in their classroom as well.

Anyway, I've done a tiny bit of research on the educational systems in the UK, and know that Scotland differs from the other three, but that all have differences.

Here's my request:
Do you have any information or links to websites about the educational system in these countries? How about personal experience?

This is a chance of a lifetime, and I want to do everything I can to make it happen.

Thanks for any help!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ready to scream

Mr. X was teaching a lesson today. He was talking about appositives, and a student gave a faulty example. I waited, thinking Mr. X would correct it. Instead, he wrote it on the overhead as an example for the rest of the class.

I waited until the students were writing, went up to him, and quietly, with my back to the class, pointed out that the example wasn't an appositive. He said it was. I pointed out that there were two adjectives, but no noun in the example. He said "Big-toothed" and "flabby" were nouns.

What. The. Hell.

He was also being observed by his supervisor from the university (Thank god. I am so glad I'm not the only one seeing this). I know she talked to him about it, but don't know exactly what was said.

When do you let a student teacher flail around and fall on his face, and when do you step in? And what do you do when you do step in, and that teacher refuses to acknowledge what you've said?

I'm not talking about later. Alone with him, I made it clear that he's a guest in my classroom, and that he needs to listen to me when I advise him on his lessons with my students. No, I'm talking about right in the moment. What do you all do? Of course, if someone was learning heart surgery, we would step in if we saw a mistake happening. But this isn't heart surgery. I'm sure I've made my share of bloopers and mistakes.

As I've said, he's very very young. I certainly would not want him teaching my son or daughter. Do I feel I have the knowledge to say he's not cut out to be a teacher? Perhaps. But that's not my call.

What do you do? Where's the line with a student teacher?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wants Vs. Needs

I want to be blogging more; really I do... I just have no time this year. It's my own fault, mostly.

See, first I decided to take on an extra class; teach six classes instead of the normal five. Lots of extra money, but phew... I won't be doing this again soon. I have NO extra time at school. Meetings after school often keep me until after the office folks have gone home and locked up for the day. I can get into my classroom, but not the copy room to make, you know, copies.

Then, we have the wonderful BTSA program. The latest meeting was yesterday from 4-7 pm. The day before a three-day weekend. Oh yes, just what I want to do to wind down before my three days... listen to someone read out loud the three double-sided papers I am totally capable of reading myself.

And -- I know, I know, what was I thinking? -- I took on a student teacher for a 9-week placement. In our district the student teachers are placed in a high school for nine weeks, a junior high for nine weeks, and then do a "Full" take over of one class in either junior or senior high for the second semester.

I thought, "gosh, if I get a good student teacher second semester, it will lighten my load a bit."

I always think that, and I'm always wrong.

Anyway, I took on the 9-week one, because it's the way to get in good with the local university teaching program.

He's a child. A rather shy, helpless, child. I'm not talking just age here, although he's barely 22; I'm talking about his absolute lack of any authority at all.

Here's what I think. Lots of kids come up in school doing well academically. They get their self-esteem from good grades. They get warm fuzzies from the teachers telling them they did a good job. On to college, and the same.

Then graduation and ut oh... real life.

Academics are comfortable and familiar and what they know... so... yeah, that's it... they think to themselves... I'll be a teacher!

Somehow, they get into a program, and end up "practicing" in classrooms like mine.

Mr. X (we'll call him). is nervous and scared of my little cream puffs. Says he's "lost" up there in front of them. He asks for quiet, doesn't get it, so ignores the chatting, whistles and donkey noises coming from the back of the room. He constantly is asking me what to do, I tell him about the classroom procedures, and he then says "I don't want to be super strict."

Okay. I am not known for being strict. Actually, most teachers think I allow too much nonsense in my classes. But, the best compliment came from a student last year, regarding my management style:

"You can have a lot of fun in Ms. JHSTeacher's class. Just don't be rude or disrespectful, and she's pretty cool."

I nearly died of joy when I read that.

Anyway, enough bragging. I'm trying to show though, that "super-strict" in my class doesn't exist. Even so, there are classroom guidelines, which the kids are pushing when Mr. X is up there, since they know he won't do anything.

I'm getting very worried. He's supposed to do a full two-week takeover soon (so far he's been doing mini-lessons each week), and he has no classroom management, no lesson plans for me to look at, and no ideas of what he wants to teach.

So, that's why I'm not been writing lately.

And, I've changed my mind about a full takeover student teacher next semester; forget it. I don't have time for babysitting any more children this year.

(Please, if you are a student teacher reading this, I know you are fabulous, better than the regular classroom teacher. You know all the latest research, you know about collaborative learning groups and total body response, and well, far more than a teacher that's just been, oh, I don't know... teaching 150-180 students a day for years. Just remember, you are a beginner. You can do this, but not on your own. Keep your chins up, and know that experience actually does count for something.)