Posts Tagged ‘tci’
Part Four of Four in my series on my two master teachers.
My master teacher consoled a fellow student teacher, and I overheard him:
Never live too close to where you teach, especially when you start out. You sometimes need that drive back home to decompress.
I need the drive home, too. Teaching his classes is regularly frustrating. It’s an uphill battle against some students who never show up. Against some who do, rarely. Against those who are there every day, and immediately enter their 55-minute coma. Against those who are awake, but insist on avoiding work at any cost.
Against some of the rest, who know I’m nothing like my beloved master teacher.
He writes his lessons on the fly, and without much preparation. He knows which copies to make for which week, and he doesn’t usually put together handouts. He believes: Keep It Simple, Stupid; work smarter, not harder.
Students might do a textbook inventory, looking for people, events or vocabluary in the book and placing it in the appropriate spot on a timeline. Students might read from his copies of the TCI curriculum, and do the TCI activities. Students, given their parents’ permission, might watch Schindler’s List as half of the Holocaust unit.
These plans are easy to write, and they’re effective.
I don’t know if his compliments have any perspective: He hasn’t had a student teacher before. He did tell me me that I’m ahead of where he was as a student teacher, at least in terms of knowledge of the material.
Hanging out with the kids was the easy part for me. It was the subject that gave me trouble.
My skills are inverted from him, and so I have a long way to go.
The Teachers’ Curriculum Institute guys came by our school the other day. TCI writes curriculum and, by previous experience teaching with their world history curriculum, TCI writes it pretty well. There’s a lot of “Figure Out Why I’m Showing You this Period-Appropriate Picture,” but they write that very well and many different ways.
They had just finished up their prototype U.S. history lesson on my kids when they called forward myself and my master teacher. See, part of their sales pitch is to get the kids to tell their teacher how much better they like learning the TCI way.
One of my seniors considers me his mortal enemy, apparently, as he took full advantage of this opportunity. He immediately walked up to me from across the room and, with a mock-patronizing tone of voice he sure wouldn’t use with his grandmother, he told me just what he thought.
I think you should take a few tips or lessons or something from these guys. They actually know how to teach.
Cue down slope.
I didn’t have time to respond or reprimand before he abruptly turned around and went back to his seat to high-five his buddies at the back table. I had the sudden urge to give him a hardy “Up yours.” I mostly suppressed it.
Instead, I told my master teacher. Not to be outdone, she agreed.
You can talk better than any of our kids.
Where’s the support when you need it? Sigh.
Disregarding that American history is infinitely more interesting and fun to teach and learn about than government or economics, I’m a student teacher. I know I’m not the best — the TCI guys are close — but I’m not all that bad.
It can take a year to create a curriculum and years longer to fine-tune it. I haven’t finished yet.
I was happy because my classrooms are mostly under control. From what I’ve observed of my fellow student teachers, that’s a whole hell of a lot more than quite a few of my peers. Even with that hurdle cleared, we’re not even close to approaching honestly good teaching, yet.
We’ve still a lot of improvement ahead of us
Moral of the story? Ahead of the curve isn’t good enough. Good is good enough.