Teacher’s Log: The Second Week
The week was a whirlwind as I struggled to stay a day or two ahead of the classes while sifting through the mountain of ungraded papers. By now the students had come to accept the new situation and there was a lot less anxiety.
On the other hand, I was making them work and they were unused to it in English classes. They also seemed to think assignments had optional due dates.
The World Lit classes began the week wrapping up Don Quixote. We started with songs and poetry written about the character, examining recurrent themes and how none focused on his madness. It gave me and opportunity to play “The Impossible Dream” from the Man of La Mancha cast album and Gordon Lightfoot’s “Don Quixote”. Tuesday they were to have come in with five questions to ask the class about the reading and I went around the room, randomly asking students to pose their questions. Sure enough, in both classes, at least one student had come without questions prepared.
The rest of the week was devoted to Fairy Tales. I prepared a PowerPoint presentation on their history and how they differed from Myth and Fable. I took them from the theories of their origins to the current resurgence of movies and TV shows using the fairy tales as source material. We then looked at the “Cinderella” story as told in seven different countries and had them work in small groups, analyzing the differences and discussing them with the class.
The English classes completed their work on The Whale Rider. We did an in-class lab studying Maori weaving patterns, what the symbols mean and had them design their own. On Wednesday, the classes participated in their first seminar-style discussion which would be their assessment for the material. Sure enough, they were a little uncomfortable not having done this before and they needed some direction but overall, all three discussions were quite different from one another and interesting. One girl warned me she hates public speaking and wouldn’t participate and I said her grade would reflect that. At the very last moment, as we wrapped up, she raised her hand, made some cogent comments and later told me she was shaking the whole time. I was proud of her.
On Thursday we reviewed vocabulary for a quiz and then worked on the building blocks of grammar along with work on commas since grammar is part of the mid-term. On Friday, they held their first book groups, discussing the books they chose for themselves and delving into them.
It’s interesting to see who has written me with questions, which kids missed a class and got in touch about making up the work. I’ve had to adapt on the fly as kids have begun reporting in that they’d be out this whole week or part of it, getting a jump on the holiday. And I am surprised at how readily I’ve come to see them as MY kids, looking after their best interests and trying to get to know them all.
I even corresponded with one parent and had a parent meeting for one of the special ed kids. This stretch of my internship has opened up a light into portions of the process that I had only heard about at a distance – and never in grad class.
On the other hand, the school found a long-term sub to complete the school year and she joined us on Friday. I introduced her to the classes and as we worked, she took small groups into the hall for a brief get to know you session. Fortunately for her, she’ll shadow me all week as I complete my plans and she sees the classroom behaviors and can plan ahead so starting January 3 she can take over with far more preparation than I had.
I enter my final week of the internship, eagerly to complete my time with the kids and more than a little sad it has been all too brief.