Sunday, December 31, 2006


The first-years asked us how we feel about blogging. After thinking about it, I guess I see both the positive and negative sides of blogging.
First, I like how blogging gives me the opportunity to tell any MTC prospects about the teaching experience. When I was considering applying for MTC, I read the blogs that were written (only about two people blogged then). It gave me a pretty good preview of what to expect as a teacher. In addition, blogging gives me a chance to vent about the everyday events at school. When I blog, I also read about other teachers' experiences in the classroom. It provides a sort of discussion forum even away from classes at Ole Miss.
Blogging also has its negative side. While it hasn't hppened to me personally, I've heard about situations where people have had their blogs read by other faculty members at their schools. I guess this could be unfortunate depending on your personal situation. Hasn't happened to me so far, so I'm assuming it's the exception and not the norm.
Also, I just sometimes get tired of blogging. Sometimes you want to blog and sometimes you don't. I think it would be more effective if the blogging requirement was once per month. Some people don't even do it, so maybe this required 2 blogs a month isn't really serving it's true purpose (getting the true feelings of all 2nd year teachers). I just think it feels a bit forced at times.
How has my attitude toward blogging changed? Well, in the beginning I thought it would be this great idea for discussion. Now, I still think it's useful, but I prefer reading them to writing them. I do think the second-years should be excused from writing them now that we have finished our coursework. Some people would still do it, and others probably won't do it anyway.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Teacher Man and Other Thoughts

Lately, I've been kind of busy, but I've found time to read. Recently, I read Teacher Man, by Frank McCourt. My father gave me this book last Christmas, but I didn't finally get around to reading it until a few weeks ago. Teacher Man is a book about an Irish immigrant who teaches in New York City public schools for twenty or thirty years. Being a teacher in public inner-city schools, I was able to relate to many of the stories in the book.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the book was that it wasn't just another story of teacher successes in the classroom. Frank McCourt discusses his successes, failures, and weird ideas in the classroom. He openly admits that he did some kids an injustice by not reaching them. In addition, he tells stories of having his English classes read cookbook recipes in classes. He knows some of these ideas are unique, but discusses how they really got his classes interested in the English language.
The part of the book that relates most to MTC is the author's discussion (throughout the book) of his experiences as a new teacher. With over thirty students in his classes, he tells about how he failed to get control over the class. Sometimes, in fact, he settled for telling stories about growing up in Ireland in order to keep his classes quiet. Clearly, this isn't what Dr. Bounds (State Superintendent) thinks we should doing in the classroom. However, I think this book should be required (or at least recommended) reading for MTCers because it's NOT the classic story of a great teacher coming in and saving the day. It's a story of a good teacher struggling to reach his students, while facing the real challenges of inner-city public schools. We as new teachers must realize that 99 percent of us won't come in the first day and transform problem-filled schools into havens for learning. Rather, it is a step-by-step, hard work, struggling day-to-day, PROCESS. There will be setbacks. But you will reach students. Enjoy the book.

Plans for Next Year

Here's a topic that many second years are probably thinking about right now. Personally, I have yet to come to a conclusion, but I am weighing my options. Here are the options I am considering at this point:
First, I'm considering moving to Miami to teach for a year. I have visited several times, and I know this would be an enjoyable city to live in. I believe that after a year, I will be going to get my M.B.A. (hopefully at a top-ranked school or the University of Miami--if I plan on staying there for a while).
I came to my second option after talking to Brian a week or two ago. He was telling me about the possibility of teaching in NYC, and now I'm really considering it. Since most of the M.B.A. programs I am most interested in are in the Northeast, this could be a practical option. I have visited New York twice, and it seems like one of the greatest cities in the U.S. Clearly, teaching in the public schools would be challenging, but I am also considering teaching in a charter or private school. It would be interesting to compare my experiences there to those of Frank McCourt in Teacher Man.
I guess the common idea between these two options is that I don't plan on teaching forever. One, or at most, two more years of teaching would be fun, but the past year and a half have reminded me of something I read...When your career starts to feel like a job, maybe it's time to reevaluate. I think that if I ever reach the point where I hate going to work, it will be time to change careers. Yes, teachers are needed, but teachers who want to be there are needed also. One of the saddest things is seeing teachers who have been there for twenty years, and are staying every year for a pay check.
Well, clearly the next few months I will be focused on making some big decisions. I've enjoyed teaching in the Delta and Jackson, but it's time to move on to a new part of my life. I've lived in Mississippi for 24 years now, and I'm ready to see what else the world has to offer. I hope to make a decision by the end of Christmas break...I will definitely have one made by Spring break.