Posts Tagged ‘easy’
In education’s corner of the Intertubes, there’s a lot of ranting and raving about parents not being involved in their students’ schooling. Parents aren’t involved. Parents aren’t supportive. Parents are non-responsive. Parents are angry at the suggestion that their little angel could be a disruptive beast who never turns in work.
I have yet to meet one of these parents. That I haven’t met them either proves or disproves that they exist, depending on how you look at it, I suppose. Yet although I’m sure that there’s some truth in saying that there some parents are too busy holding three jobs to care about what happens with their little truant, by-and-large the parents I’ve even tried to contact are extremely supportive.
Case in point: Just yesterday, I met with the parents of Ceasar Nothisrealname, one of my failing sophomores. Though I can say he legitimately bright enough that he should be in AP classes — that is, I don’t tell his parents that because they want to hear it — he’s loud, talkative and will interrupt lectures and discussion with bombastic non sequiturs.
Ceasar would have close to a C if he made up his test and quiz. He just hasn’t. He has rarely turned in other assignments on time.
Confused if not frustrated or angry, his parents called Ceasar’s counselor yesterday, arranging to meet me after class for a same-day appointment. My master teacher would have been there had he known about it, but he had called in for a sub — me — that day.
Any trepidation I felt about talking to parents and fielding their questions evaporated in the first 30 seconds. Over the course of the next 15 minutes, they, whether they knew it or not, revealed Ceasar’s motivations, favored learning style, attitude and outlook. That he wants to play sports. That he learns well by listening to lecture, rather than taking notes. That he has only ever failed one class, and because of a questionable teacher.
Good to know.
When I start finally start teaching and getting paid for it, I plan on making parent contact within the first two months. Reasonable parents are always an asset, and are always leverage.
Here’s to my hope that I haven’t just been lucking out.
Memorial Day was my day of work. I didn’t get much work done.
However much I racked my brains, I had tried and failed to brainstorm good multiple-choice questions. However long I stared at Microsoft Word, satisfactory test items just didn’t come. Then, an idea.
Inspired by a faint memory of one of my high school teachers, I decided to let my seniors write their own test questions for this semester’s pass-the-class-in-order-to-graduate cumulative final. Having students write hypothetical questions about course content is an excellent review activity — that’s the main impetus behind a local iteration of Cornell Notes, at least.
I gave them a short primer on effective test questions — make the question a complete sentence, have all the answers about the same length, no silly answers — and a list of a few topics I’d like questions written about. I warned that only the very best questions would make the cut.
At the very least, it was an excellent way to gauge which students needed help understanding the content, and who was doing just fine. I could then intercede on their behalf and give them a little nudge in the right direction.
There was a range of questions, including fact-recall:
22. What are the names of three major Federalists?
a. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson.
b. Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry.
c. John Jay, James Madison, George Washington.
d. James Madison, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton.
There were some questions with a little bit of higher thinking:
5. In which system of government do states have more power than a national government?
I rewrote most of the rest to make them a little bit more challenging, or edited them for style errors.
Of course, I had a few questions that certainly didn’t make the cut.
xii. What are names of the two houses of Congress?
a. Executive, judicial.
b. Legislative, Supreme Court.
c. Judicial, executive.
d. White House, Pentagon.
In case you don’t know American government, this doesn’t even include the correct answers. Considering who giggled as I read that question, it’s safe to say that this was a joke, but just to be sure, I walked that whole section of the class through the names of each house in our bicameral duplex of a legislature.
Just plain silly made an appearance, also.
vi. Why am I so sexy?
a. My style.
b. My looks.
c. My hair.
d. The way I talk.
The student who wrote this question made sure to ask me the next day what I thought of it. I hesitated a bit, and then told him, jokingly.
I’m not going to put it on the test. It had a false premise.
After two minutes with a dictionary, he laughed out loud.
This tightly cropped and messed-a-little-with picture, courtesy of Kate, describes the student teaching experience.
I’m somewhere around week five’s upward trend. Little comfort, because it won’t last very long.
I’m feeling confident about my ability to keep the rapscallions under control, and I’m feeling more and more confident about my ability to plan a lesson that might even teach something they end up learning, but despair is on the horizon.
I’ve already begun to start planning curricula for next year, and it takes a hell of a lot of time. I’m only three weeks into 11th-grade U.S. history. I’m thankful that its three weeks on presidents, maps and timelines double as the first six weeks of 8th-grade U.S. history.
I’d be fine if I didn’t have anything else to do. The chances of nabbing a job teaching American history are slim to none, so I’ll probably end up teaching a different subject while I plan a whole new curriculum.
It’ll be harder, as I’ll have other obligations. You know: making copies, answering phone calls, doing paperwork, grading papers and homework. Oh, and because I’m a new teacher, I’ll get to coach, sponsor or mentor something.
I’ll be busy enough already with contractual obligations. Inevitably, good teaching will have to wait. How depressing.
Moral of the story? Teaching would be an easy job if we all had secretaries. That would leave us time to plan new, exciting or even worthwhile lessons from the get-go.