Sunday, March 25, 2007

This past Thursday was probably the best day teaching that I've had so far. Since it was MCAS week I had my A block kids for half an hour right away and then for two hours straight later in the day. They were very attentive for the short block and I got through an entire lesson quickly and efficiently. I was pretty nervous about the two hour long block, but they all did their work relatively quietly and when they were done, managed to amuse themselves in ways that weren't loud or obnoxious. This was also the first day I attempted a full lesson with my new honors class and it went phenomenally well. Teaching them is so easy; they ask intelligent questions that drive my lessons and even if they aren't motivated to learn math for math's sake, they're at least motivated to learn for their grade.

Laura and I went out to dinner at Addis Red Sea on Saturday night to celebrate our being together for 9 monthes. That's a damn long time. Her parents are coming up this coming weekend and I'm a little nervous. I've only spent a little bit of time with them and I don't feel as confident being around them as I'd like. I guess the only way to make that better is to spend more time with them, but it doesn't make me any less nervous about it.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I went to Shaw's this morning and brought along the bucket of change I've been collecting for several years. It totaled out to 35 dollars, which I used to purchase my groceries. I think it is important to note that there were no quarters in the bucket (they get used for laundry), so that was 35 dollars in pennies, nickels, and dimes.

My St. Patty's Day weekend turned out to be pretty entertaining. Meg and Tom were supposed to come visit but the snow storm detered them from driving from Jersey to Boston. I ended up hanging out with Coco on Friday night and taking an awesome bike ride in the blizzard. Saturday afternoon saw me at Sunset drinking green beer with Steve and Drew and then watching 300 and cooking dinner with Coco. I had heard a lot of negative things about 300, specifically about the dialouge, but I loved every second of it (the dialouge was essentially spoken comic book speech bubbles, which tend to be overly dramatic, but I love comics so I can see why it didn't bother me). We then went to a bar with some people and finished the evening drinking whiskey sours.

Laura came back to Boston today (Sunday) which was very exciting. We spent most of the day together cooking and napping and catching up on the past week. I hadn't realized how much I missed her until I saw her this morning. I am really happy she's back.

I'm trying to stay positive and motivated about this whole student teaching thing. My lesson plans for tomorrow are pretty thin; I'm planning on showing up and winging it. Coco and I were talking about our classrooms this weekend and she made a comment that really put the whole thing into perspective for me. She said that usually her kids are willing to play along and pretend that she's really the teacher, even though everyone in the classroom knows she's a student teacher, but sometimes they don't feel like playing along and she really has no authority or clout to get them to do what she wants when that happens. I had never thought about it that way before, but I can absolutley see how it applies to my kids. Laura told me to just stick it out for another two monthes and then it would be over, and I guess that's what I'm going to have to do.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Today was a phenomenal day in school. I saw the C2 kids twice today and both times they were very well behaved. The took their quiz (and didn't to terribly) and managed to stay quiet for almost all of A block, and they seemed to enjoy my graphing calculator lesson during D block. That happened to be the block I was being observed, so I'm glad I picked a good lesson. My C1 class was actually way crazier today than I've ever seen them, but I think I handled it very well. I thought I was able to keep them relatively on task and I think most of them understood the lesson.

Despite that, I find myself somewhat unhappy with the whole situation. I am most upset by how restricted my schedule has become. I am a person who values my free time and to have it so suddenly and massively restricted it unsettling to say the least. A huge part of my day is taken up being at school. Another large chunk is devoted to lesson planning for the next day, something that is becoming more and more tedious for me to do well. My evenings are taken up with class and work, and I go to bed early because I have to wake up early. My time with Laura is significantly less than it was last semeseter, and the time I do get to spend with her is not nearly the amount she deserves. It seems like a huge sacrifice to make for a bunch of bratty, ungrateful kids when I'm not being paid.

I also feel generally unfulfilled with my classes right now. I don't do any of the readings and the papers I turn in are a joke. I skipped my first class ever in my now five years of college last night because I couldn't justify why I wasn't doing something useful with my time instead of listening to an old man ramble about irrelevant and useless things (this doesn't could the five or six classes I have skipped for concerts or climbing, which I consider valid reasons).

All in all, I feel like my life has taken a radical shift and I am not at all sure I like where it is going.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I've spent this past week waking up at 6:00am and heading on over to Waltham High School. I took over Jessica's mainstream Algebra 1 class and my experiences thus far have been mixed. The class is made up of almost 30 kids who are all best friends and come to my math class right after lunch. They are all good kids but in general the class is a loud and rowdy place.

On Monday I taught them the last section in Chapter 6, which was about graphing systems of linear inequalities. When I was up there speaking to them they were pretty quiet and attentive, but as soon as I left them to their own devices to do a problem or if I took too long collecting my own thoughts they quickly got out of control and I was unable to bring them back down. Twice Jessica had to raise her voice to gain control of the class and while I was grateful that she helped me out I was a bit let down by my inability to control them myself. Despite my misgivings, Jessica was very supportive and told me that it was a very difficult thing to control any group of 30 freshmen, and especially this group.

Tuesday I saw them twice and I felt much better about everything. My first lesson was a review of the second half of the chapter. They worked fairly quietly on the problems I gave them and while they weren't incredibly responsive to my questions, they weren't out of control either. The quiz went pretty well, with the average being something above 50% and below 75%.

Yesterday was the highlight of the week. After quickly going over the quiz (with excellent class participation) I gave everyone a graphing claculator and taught them how to solve systems with it. They really enjoyed working with the calculators and several of them have asked me to do more lessons with them. Hopefully the material they're going to learn will present me with the opportunity to do so.

Today's lesson was a bit ambitious on my part. It didn't exactly fail but it wasn't nearly as successful as I had hoped it would be. The major problems were a lack of clarity on my part as to what I wanted them doing and the lesson's inherent downtime (a dangerous thing in this class). I did learn some things about what I can and can't do in the class though, and I already feel lightyears more confident in front of the class than I did on Monday.