Thursday, September 20, 2007

Watched and watching

As noted yesterday, I had my observation at Brown Elementary. My State School Sponsor came in and watched me do my lesson on patterns. I used felt circles to make caterpillars and correlated length with the announced age of each one. So the "one-year-old" caterpillar had three circles, the "two-year-old" had four circles, and so on. I made a T-chart on the board of the figures, and then the kids drew their own T-charts and filled in the value of the length for a five-year-old caterpillar. To conclude, we had a discussion about what a ten-year-old caterpillar would look like.

At that point, I said, "Now, how could we find out the length of a ten-year-old caterpillar?" One child suggested I follow the growth pattern of circles and just fill in the values, each being one higher than the value previous, until I got to ten. That showed he understood how a T-chart worked and that this was a growth pattern, but I wanted to coax them into understanding the correlation between the value of age and the value of length (the latter always being two more than the former). So I praised his contribution and then said, "How else could we do it, without filling in all the other values?"

And the brightest girl in the class --- clearly gifted --- called out, smiling, "You could copy me!" She had already filled in the whole chart on her own. Ms. L and my sponsor laughed at that.

My sponsor praised the lesson, saying it was clear I had experience working with kids, and she appreciated my humor: "You have a fun and pleasant way of working with children." (Contrast that, by the way, with my far more naive and foolish peers' remarks on the same subject of my teaching approach here.) She had a few constructive comments, which I appreciated. For one thing, I apparently say "okay" constantly. Not only is that annoying, it sounds as if I'm asking the kids' permission with every sentence. If what I actually mean is, "Do you understand what I just said?" then that's what I ought to train myself to say.

After school, I stayed for curriculum night, which is basically an open house: meet the parents. I didn't say anything during the session, just allowed myself to be introduced by Ms. L and listened to her describe the various policies and routines. I chatted informally with a couple of the parents, including the mother of the "copy me" girl, who knows she's a handful. I've noticed a lot of gifted kids chafe at rules and tend to want to march to their own beat. That's not necessarily wrong; some rules exist just to make authority figures' lives easier. But then, it's nice to learn early that the world is not always so forgiving of those who shine intellectually.

I was gone twelve hours altogether. What a day.

Oh, and a girl asked me, "Mr. Chance, what's angst?"

After I processed that, I stammered, "Well, it's just kind of a general feeling of uneasiness, I guess."

She said, "Oh. Well, I have angst."

Seven year olds have angst? Charles Schulz was right!


Churlita said...

I xatch myself saying "Okay" all the time, and I have angst as well.

Churlita said...

That would be, "catch". I CATCH myself saying okay...

NYC Educator said...

Hey congratulations. That sounds like a great observation.