Saturday, December 10, 2005

What Would I Teach?

In my first year of teaching, I have been assigned to teach 3 classes of English III, 2 classes of Spanish I, and 1 class of Drama. An odd combination, right? I have thought about this and I realized that, if given the chance, I would narrow this down to 1 or 2 of these.
First, I would definitely get rid of Drama. I never took this class in high school or college (and I never had a desire to), but I was assigned to teach this class or Oral Communications (I didn't want to teach it either--it was a class broadcasted to another school). Hopefully, we will get a couple more English teachers next year so that we can change the situation.
What about English III? I love literature. Some days I feel that I could be perfectly content teaching only English III. However, sometimes I think that my love of books doesn't necessarily translate into a desire to teach literature. As a become a better teacher, I will be able to judge my desire better.
Meanwhile, teaching Spanish I has been quite an experience. Each day is exciting, but it takes an incredible amount of energy to teach even one class. I'm not sure what I would feel like teaching a whole day of Spanish. If I had new textbooks, it's possible that I could function teaching only Spanish. Because there is never a dull moment, I could see this as a definite possibility.
After weighing the possibilities, I am not sure which direction I would go if given the choice. I would be okay with teaching English and Spanish, but I would (at this particular moment) love to try being just a Spanish teacher. I guess the needs of my school district will dictate what I teach in the immediate future.

First Semester

I have almost finished my first semester of teaching, and I think I have learned a lot. Obviously, there are things I could have done better, but I think I have been successful in teaching my students. Next semester will be better, and I will feel a lot more prepared going into next fall.
I see many mistakes that I made, and I plan to correct them next year. First, I failed to plan sufficiently (long term plan). I think my classes would have had more continuity and students would have seen the big picture more easily. I think knowing this now will prepare me for next semester and next year.
However, there have been successes this semester. I think I have emphasized the importance of students' preparing themselves for college. I tend to treat them like college students (in terms of my expecting them to be responsible). Students know that I care and that I am trying to get them to college.
In addition, I think I have been somewhat successful in trying to show students that reading can be fun. I have tried to show them that reading can relate to their own personal lives. This semester has been full of both successes and challenges, but I would argue that it has, as a whole, been a success.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Effects of Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities-- a good idea, right? Well, maybe only in some aspects. Simmons High is undefeated and playing the North Half Championship in football as I am writing this. This is great, but I am more curious about the benefits and consequences.
I would argue that sports and clubs are beneficial to student life. It gives students something to look forward to, and it also motivates many of them to strive for the best in all endeavors (not simply sports). I am impressed by the leadership qualities of students such as the well-known Jeffrey Altman (one of the best running backs in the state/ Mr. SHS). He impresses me in class because he knows how to keep his fellow students on track when the get a little out of hand. He also respects my decisions, knowing that they are fair, even if they sometimes end up hurting his grades. I think that football has contributed much to his behavior and leadership qualities.
However, there are problems that come with extracurriculars. First, not all athletes show such positive qualities. Many of them come in with the idea that everyone owes them something. In addition to the athletes, the school tends to take things a little too far. We have lost many hours of class time to pep rallies, cheers, students gone with the band, etc. The focus of school should be on education, then extracurriculars.
So how do I feel about sports and clubs? I love them. We must find the balance between the classroom and the football field, but I think that they can peacefully coexist. GO BLUE DEVILS!!!

Summer vs. Fall

I am almost finished with my first semester of teaching, and I am now able to look back on my thoughts from the summer with a more realistic attitude. I think that during the summer, I pictured the situation a bit differently. While I still have some of the same basic beliefs, I have been struck by reality in many areas.
This summer, I knew that developing the teacher face would be important. It is an art that I have not yet mastered, and it consequently leads to problems. I tend to smile a little too much, and sometimes the students don't take me as seriously as they should. However, smiling does have its positive effects. For example, students know that I enjoy what I am doing and that I am a person with which they can talk about issues that are important to them.
Probably the biggest change has been my attitude toward my role in the classroom. I was spoiled this summer by teaching summer classes at Lafayette High. There were no major discipline problems, and outside life didn't seem to affect the students' work much. However, students at Simmons High are clearly confronted by issues that I, as a teacher, cannot avoid. Issues in real life affect the way students act at school, so I can't simply come in and teach everyday. For example, I have at least 4 female students who are currently pregnant, and some days they simply feel too sick to focus. For instance, I cannot teach Tanesha for 50 minutes everyday, because she is often vomiting in the bathroom next door.
As a teacher, I have to understand that students are not always in a position to learn what I want to teach. It is a matter of teaching what I can effectively teach, not simply sticking to a lesson plan.
I believe that I still have the goal of reaching every student in some way, even if I don't teach every student everything. I am more realistic now than I was this summer, simply because I am experiencing more.