Ils m'ont traité avec mépris, ils m'ont moqué, ils m'ont tourné en ridicule... mais un jour, ils avoueront que je suis un illuminé !
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Friday, October 28, 2005
Thursday, October 27, 2005
More school news next semester, January 2006.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
We have another group presentation in class next week; we're doing effective schools. I'll talk for about two minutes on Academic Focus and High Self-Efficacy. Piece of cake!
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
The TA brought in a guest speaker --- the principal at the school where he works --- and it was fairly interesting. She gave us some good tips on preparation and planning, and defined handy devices like Cornell note taking (a three-column system) and KWL (what we know, what we Want to know, and what we Learned).
I found it notable that at one point, in talking about planning with a mentor, she used a phrase very close in wording to Mr. A's stock quote: "You need to become a veteran teacher's best friend, because you are not good enough to do it on your own."
Ms. D is such an organized and together teacher --- she mixes small groups, seatwork, circle, lecture and fun time very well --- that I often feel like I'm not exactly being an invaluble resource in the classroom. I've mentioned this to her, and she assures me that I am a help, but it's really mostly crowd control and a bit of prompting here and there during deskwork. So today, when she prepared to read a story, I stepped in and offered to read it instead. It was Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen (but a strangely abridged version from the one I know so well, having heard it on audiotape approximately a Brazilian times during naptime at VOA). The kids were supposed to read along with me, but I ended up reading it to them, which was fine. Then, to my surprise, Ms. D handed me a marker and asked me to lead the class in a question session to construct a word web based on owl concepts. It went all right, and she said I did very well.
But up there, behind the desk, and standing at the easel with a marker in my hand, pointing at kids who raised their hands, I felt it. That same feeling I've read about so often in anecdotal essays by teachers about their first years. I wasn't nervous, no. I didn't feel as if Ms. D were judging my performance or anything. Just... a strange feeling, like I didn't really belong up there. Like I said, I've read about this, and my teacher friends tell me the same thing: it's a common feeling, apparently. "I'm not a teacher! Can't they see that I look like an idiot up here with this silly marker in my hand, writing down things on a big paper?"
The really strange thing is that I should be feeling this way at all. I've been a preschool teacher for more than four years now, and a teacher's aide and so forth before that. I'm used to declaiming things in front of kids and asking questions and leading discussions. I guess it all changes when you're the cynosure in a "real" classroom.
I tells ya, it's an odd experience, being at the front of the class, looking at students looking back at you, and ostensibly directing things. And today it was just a bunch of 2nd graders tossing out concepts, with a lot of leeway as to "right" or "wrong" answers! Imagine teaching AP English or physics for the first time... Oh, the confidence one would have to fake! I shudder to think.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Poussez un hourrah ! La prison est abimée ! Nous avons libéré la racaille qui croupissait là-dedans, et qui à ce moment même ravage les citoyens honnêtes de la ville ! Pour la Liberté ! Pour l'Égalité ! Pour la Fraternité... Tiens ! C'est où, mon portefeuille ?
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Friday, October 21, 2005
Thursday, October 20, 2005
And two classmates told me I sounded like I had bronchitis. Lovely.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Tomorrow is our group presentation in American Public School, so I'd better start practicing my one-minute, twenty-five-second long speech. Unfortunately, I've had a sore throat since Sunday.
Monday, October 17, 2005
During social studies, the class learned about a few land forms and then drew them. One kid said his peninsula was "Elvis Peninsula" because it looked like Elvis' hair. (And it did, kind of.) Then he mentioned that the principal at W loves Elvis, and once had his "blue sweaty shoes" on display.
Laugh or puke at it, you can't make that kind of stuff up.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Friday, October 14, 2005
Thursday, October 13, 2005
The upshot is that I transferred my usual Monday morning tutoring at W to today. I got there extra early (7:30 am) and interviewed Ms. D, asking her a series of questions I wrote myself, mostly about day to day practicalities of the job. I also got to witness an asembly and a recess period, so I have now done my observations. Now all that remains is to write up something cogent on what I saw and what Ms. D said.
During class, some older kids were outside doing gymnastics and exercising with two large parachutes. Ms. D and I tried to keep the lesson going, but when loud foot-tappin' music started coming through the windows, we gave up and let them watch for a few minutes. All of a sudden, one boy said, "The parachute I like is beautiful, with all kinds of colors." There was a sort of general, subdued giggle at that. He went on: "It's not the blue and white one, but the one with lots of nice colors." The laugh this time was louder, and another boy asked (without malice), "Are you a girl, R?" He said "Yes," happily and without irony. Laughs.
I'm not saying that R is going to grow up to be a homosexual. But I have definitely noticed, over the years, many boys who display effeminate characteristics from the moment they could talk. (I couldn't help thinking about the ludicrous national "debate" about whether sexual orientation is a matter of choice. All I know is, I for one never made a choice to be heterosexual --- did the leaders of the fundamentalist hypocritical "Christian" right consciously choose? "Say, look at the buns on that guy! And say, look at that girl's legs! They're both nice --- but which one am I most attracted to...?" If they didn't, why do they think other people did?)
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
American Public School was a good class. We talked about how middle schools are different from junior high schools; mandatory attendance, its importance, and how to enforce it; and the characteristics of an effective school. We also turned in our midterms, which were take-home and not very involved. One of the tasks was to make a timeline spotlighting ten of the most significant events in the history of American public education.
My timeline featured:
- The Old Deluder Satan Act of 1647
- Article I of the US Constitution
- The common school movement that started in Massachusetts
- Plessy v. Furgeson
- Brown v. Board of Education
- The War on Poverty --- the great increase in education funding
- Title I and Head Start
- A Nation At Risk
- No Child Left Behind
Someone else mentioned Article X, which is pretty significant. By devolving the responsibility for public education to the states, it opened to the door to the debates and controversies that surround our schools today. Who knows? If the Founding Fathers had thought of a federal Education Department, there might not have ever been (legal) segregation.
But then, that's just crazy talk.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Then he left, and the TA had us make a poster meant to ask college students to help tutor. Then we saw a short video. Zzzzzz.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Je me suis promené un peu. Tout en songeant à des femmes, je ne faisais pas attention aux nuages gris qui s'amoncelaient. Soudain, il tombait des hallebardes, et mes habits étaient trempés.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
I have always been good at drawing. At some things, like simple inanimate objects or people, I'm very good. At other things, like animals or technology, not so much. But I sketch cleanly and quickly, I have some skill in rendering things into their archetypical cartoon form, and I can make people laugh with my drawings. But I've never seriously considered cartooning as a job, or even as a freelance gig, though many people asked me about it as I grew old enough to start thinking about jobs.
When I was very young, my pragmatic, materialistic uncle told me that the odds of making it as a cartoonist were as slim as a high school footballer making it as a pro athlete, that only a small fraction of the very best ever make any money at it. In his own limited way, I suppose he was trying to set me on the road to success, but was it that conversation that made me think I could never be an illustrator or cartoonist?
Another memory pops up. Someone else --- or my uncle, again? I don't know --- looked at a picture of a horse I drew and told me that horses' tails don't shoot our horizontally while they're running. Maybe they don't, but I was a very young child! (Chuck Jones might say that I was admirably expressing the speed of the horse.) Is it because of this offhand comment that I have always felt that I'm weakest at drawing animals' bodies?
I don't want to indulge in autobiography or wallow in self-pity here. But I read the text, and I thought of those old, old memories, and I thought:
As a teacher, never, never will I "correct" a young child's art (unless explicitly asked for help on a detail, for example).
I will always, always strive to find out the idea behind, and say something positive about, a picture a child shows me, even if it seems to me just a series of scribbled lines.
The flower is bigger than the person because the flower is important. The girls' legs are drawn impossbly long because she knows she's growing. The sky is red because the person in the picture is angry. That black, unidentifiable mass of circular lines is a very fast car.
The picture looks that way because the child is saying something that way.
What is it?
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Although in the end he said he would grade the quizzes, it was all an exercise in experiencing tests and pressure. Someday we'll be the ones up there passing out the dreaded test sheets. Teachers would do well to remember that their job isn't to trip students up or make them feel pressured, but to help them learn. A few positive words of encouragement and a relaxed atmosphere just might do wonders for both the teachers' stress levels and the students' performance.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
In Educational Psychology, the TA brought in a guest speaker who works with special ed kids and does referrals. I know that every profession has, and likes to foster, its own isoteric jargon and specialized acronyms, but special ed takes the cake. In one half-hour session, I heard her use all of the following:
- IDEA - the Individuals with Disabilities Act
- NCLB - No Child Left Behind
- LRE - Least Restrictive Environment
- PPCD - Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities
- ARD - Admission, Review and Dismissal
- SST - Student Support Team
- HIV- Human Immunodeficiency Virus
- AIDS - Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome
- OCD - Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder
- ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- LD - Learning Disability
- AU - Autism (what the hell? That's not an acronym!)
- MR - Mental Retardation
- ED - Emotional Disturbance
- OHI - Other Health Impairment
We also had the opportunity to write assessments of the class. I noted down that Mr. S just repeats the text, which is not informative, and that I'd rather have supplemental info.
Monday, October 03, 2005
This morning, at W Elementary, the 2nd graders were studying the two different sounds of g. Ms. D wrote on the board several words using both sounds. At one point she wrote "gem" and explained that it was a precious stone like jewelry. Then she wrote "gym," noting that it was a place to play. Then she said the two were homophones.
Not to me, they ain't.
But, as all the texts say, you have to teach to the culture, I guess.
There's a southern accent where I come from
The young'uns call it country
The Yankees call it dumb
I got my own way of talkin'
But everything is done, with a southern accent
Where I come from
-Tom Petty, "Southern Accents"
Also at W, I met the principal and got some documents for my American Public School written observation. He gave me the packet they give to all parents. I was hoping for something more internal and revealing, like a food service contract or a book requisition form, but I didn't want to be a nuisance, so I thanked him and left. Now all I have to do it find some way to write a page or so of insightful observation of one of the sheets from the packet. Yes.
It was nice that several of the kids gave me hugs today. One said, "I like you," for no reason and returned to his seat. When I came in, I heard someone say, "Yay! He's back!" I am aware that young kids' affection is pretty non-discriminatory and they naturally latch on to any older figure who isn't actively mean to them, but it's still nice.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Ahem. Anyway, in a celebration of the fight against censorship of books, here is a meme that everyone can enjoy, and they don't even have to be invited. (Just ask Orac.) List the top 100 most frequently challenged books from the last decade, and indicate with boldface or whatever other method you prefer which ones you've read. You will, in so doing, have stuck it to the Man. Well, not really, but hell, it's something to do, isn't it? See how many subversive and wicked books you've read!
And here's my list.
1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier - a very engrossing book about school bullying.
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain - anyone who wants to ban this is un-American. This is the one and only Great American Novel.
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - hey, life's not fair sometimes. Read about it.
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson - I don't remember much about this book, I read it so long ago, but I remember it being terribly sad.
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - I read this book at least eight times my freshman and sophomore years alone. Don't worry, though, I never had any desire to assassinate rock stars.
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth's Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard - I agree that this series is not the most appropriate thing in the world for some early childhood kids. If you think that's the case, don't read it to them! Why do people feel the need to make decisions for other people too?
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
32. Blubber by Judy Blume - another one that tells about bullying and name-calling like it is, so "concerned adults" feel the need to stop all kids from hearing about it. Oh, but they'll live it, all right. They just can't read about it.
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan - "If we allow this book in our libraries, soon all the kids will be killing their teachers, too! Won't somebody please think of the children?!?"
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What's Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - oh, no, we can't have kids reading that our justice system was at one time racist and corrupt! Heavens!
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton - "If we allow this book in our libraries, soon all the kids will be engaging in gang wars!"
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel - I remember reading this in school, sometime around the Renaissance. Isn't it a tale of social injustice, too? I sense a pattern here...
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes - it's always scariest when the challenged book is an imaginary tale, like science fiction. That's when the censors' true colors show: they hate ideas.
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein - Light verse? In our classrooms??! With whimsical illustrations??! What's the world coming to?
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl - what kind of monster would allow children to read a book about a child who has a bad childhood and seeks refuge in a colossal fruit with a bunch of talking insects?
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What's Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume - "For the last time, adolescence is not a period of trouble and insecurity! Stop writing these lying books that say it is!"
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende - I just recently read this, and it's one of the best novels I have ever read. I'm assuming it's challenged because it dares implicate America as a supporter of the cruel dictatorship that takes over in the book.
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut - "Hey, war doesn't scar veterans! Especially WWII vets! They're the Greatest Generation, you know? WWII vets don't think of war as an atrocity! Who is this Vonnegut guy, some starry-eyed hippie conscientious objector?! What? He was there? Oh."
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding - do the censors challenge this book because they think it's false that kids could degenerate so far so quickly in the absence of authority, or they're afraid that people will find out it's true?
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain - this is the other half of the Great American Novel.
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford - um... what's the problem here? Are there tiny pornographic pictures hidden in those illustrations or something?
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman - yes, at one time this was considered appropriate for kids. I believe in portraying our history warts and all.
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell - "If we allow this book in our libraries, soon all the kids will..." Oh, never mind.
97. The Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier