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?


Mr. McNamar said...

You step in when the information is wrong! Thank you for saving the apositve, a wonderful sentence additive.

Anonymous said...

I sort of regret that I nterrupted my student teacher to correct her
(see my previous post's Of Mice and Men comment). If I had it
to do again, I would have let her do it, spoken to her privately, and
made sure she corrected it with the students the next day. It's a good way for the students to see their teacher as a human who makes errors,and it's a good model for admitting mistakes and moving on.

No one has to grovel. When I've made errors, discovered them, and
corrected them, it's usually along the lines of, "Hey, folks, yesterday I told you this example was an appositive. Then I realized that it had no noun to go with it! Who will help make this correct so we can all be on the same page?" We correct it, I answer questions, and then we
move on.

I don't know what to tell you about your "What the hell?!" moment.

But I am interested in what you did!

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

Um, when he ignores your instruction?

It's no big deal to make a mistake. It is a big deal to refuse to admit it.

Happy Thanksgiving JHST!

Lynnie said...

I somehow tripped on this blog while searching for lesson ideas. I, too, am a junior high English teacher. I LOVE your observation of the student teacher. If only I'd been smart enough to blog my experience - maybe I would have been less stressed out each day. (I think I was motivated by the "free" graduate classes - which became like trying to use season passes to Disneyworld; only instead of blackout dates, you're "limited" to certain classes you're never going to take).

Look, it takes a brave teacher to allow "total takeover". We assume we're there to coach classroom management, not reteach content to the college educated. That kid will affect thousands of children, and if he's not set straight, he will proceed with a creative license to teach English incorrectly. Revoke the license!

Keep your chin up and fight the good fight!

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

I've handled the situation both ways....I've advised the ST in a manner that does not call attention to ourselves and I have done it afterwards so that the mistake can be cleared up the next time the class meets. So good I've had young men in my room who were open to criticism and knew they had made a mistake. I'm sure in your case I would have felt the same way. Some people simply won't let you help.