My First Week Solo Teaching

This was my week to begin solo teaching in World Literature Seminar. The students had been given a schedule with the expected reading, two writing assignments, things they were to note in their journals. As a result, there were no secrets what we were doing day by day. I was preparing like crazy, making sure I had plenty of background material and notes to talk about. I was psyched and ready to lead some spirited conversations.

I was therefore somewhat stunned and disappointed to find that regardless of preparation, both classes more or less sat there. Lump-like, they would answer a question and let it lay there to die a lonely death rather than ignite a discussion. On more than one occasion, I ran out of material without a plan B because no one would pick up on a thread and run with it or argue with one another.

Worse, on Thursday, my cooperating teaching observed and scribbled furiously. She assured me it contained both good and constructive notes but we will discuss this tomorrow so I await her thoughts. After one of the classes that day, I walked up to four of the guys and asked why they weren’t talking, and that’s when we finally began the class discussion I had been hoping for. I used that to open Friday’s class which helped a lot.

What’s weird is that I didn’t feel this much pressure in December when I had less time to prep and had five classes to teach. The difference of course is that this is what counts. This is what will determine if I get certified and therefore become employable. There’s a tremendous weight that comes with it and I am trying not to let it get to me.

Their first papers arrived on Friday and I spent Saturday proctoring ACT tests and giving the papers a read, making notes and copy editing. I’ll read them a second time before grading because I want to get this right.

I also spent part of the week finishing my plans for Macbeth and reviewed them with my other teacher. She made some good comments and I gave her a revision which we will talk about tomorrow. This week, I worked with the students as they worked with writing a précis about the poems they had chosen. It was educational for me and I was glad I could translate to help students get their work done.

On Thursday, I also was one of two accuracy judges as the school conducted its Poetry Out Loud competition. Some 30 kids competed with two going on to the state competition next month. We broke the kids into two groups and then the top three from each group would face off for the finals. I was thrilled to see two of “my” students get that far. My teacher actually had a very good showing which was fun.

And on Friday, I stayed very late after school to stick around and watch the literary magazine’s staff host an Anti-Valentine’s Day event. For two hours I was entertained with original poetry, recitations from other poets, original short stories, some music, and one stand-up routine. There may have been only 30 kids or so present, but everyone had a great time.

Time gets easily sucked by teaching. While we stand in classes upwards of five hours a day, there’s easily another few hours each day spent on talking with students, grading papers, and prepping. Lots of prepping. It dawned on me mid-week that I needed a final plan for World Lit’s second novel, The Kite Runner, done well before the kids went on break. Plans are taking shape but the pressure is on.

While I learned a tremendous amount as an intern and emergency teacher, this has ratcheted up the learning process.

One thought on “My First Week Solo Teaching

  • February 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm
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    sorry big brother, but welcome to most high school classes. your nephew said there is not very much discussion in his classes, whether they are advanced or regular – kids do, unfortunately, sit like lumps, not wanting to call attention to themselves or not wanting to put forth the effort to particpate. Hopefully it’ll get better.

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