Friday, February 6, 2009

First Lesson

I took over my class yesterday. However the lesson that I taught yesterday was created by my cooperating teacher. It was an okay lesson, the kids were mostly finishing up vocabulary words and lesson review questions, but at the end of it….I had this feeling like I was being blamed for a really nasty fart that wasn’t mine. The lesson was not my own. I know my own brand.

So today, when we started a new unit on nutrition, I was hoping that I could feel a little better about presenting a well planned out lesson of my own. Wow! It was such an encouraging day! I had a fun PowerPoint, got all of the students to talk and share about their own lives and eating habits and influences. They really responded, and even though I had a substitute (who took attendance and then sat back and watched), I felt….for the first time in my life….like a real teacher. I enjoyed it. I got high on it. It was the first time that I was teaching a lesson that I created, teaching it to the audience it was meant for, teaching it without supervision or critique, and establishing an environment and a tempo to the class that I have envisioned. It was an extremely rewarding experience and I can’t wait to do it all next week.

At the end of class I had students submit anonymous questions to the “question box.” This is a box that I created so that students can ask questions that they might not necessarily be comfortable asking in front of their classmates, or even asking me directly. I told them that this week the question should revolve around our unit: Nutrition. To no surprise, over half of the questions had to do with eating disorders. I was already planning to cover eating disorders for a couple of days, but now that I know there is even more curiosity about them, I can tailor my lesson to these students. I liked the idea, but loved the responses.

I also had my students submit anonymous critique of my lesson today. They had to tell me something that I did well, and something that I could work on or do better. Half of them said something along the lines of “You did really well, I enjoyed today’s lesson. Nothing for you to work on.” A lot of them said “you made the PowerPoint fun and interesting. You could make it more interactive though.” One said, “You talked to us like we were on the same level, great! Keep it up, I really enjoyed today!” I especially liked that one, because I think that SOME teachers tend to talk down to these students….like they are 5 year olds, and I can see how much they resent that. Overall I got some great suggestions for future lessons.

I know that I should enjoy today’s success and take it with a grain of salt. If there is one thing that I consistently hear about teaching it is that some days are great and some days are horrible. I am sure the glory of today will be trumped by some frustration next week…but I am happy with my performance.

I dined on some local fare tonight. At a quaint little fish and chips joint, in the near-by town of Brandon, I found an item on the menu called “Big Cod.” Sounds safe. I was hungry, so I could probably eat a BIG cod, rather than the regular cod, right? Wrong. This thing came out and no joke, it was about as big as my head. Not to mention it was accompanied by a large stack of chips. It was great. Not the best I have ever had, but very good for a street corner fish n’ chips joint. After dinner Colin and I went to the movie “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” on the Lakenheath base. It was so good! A very hard ending to watch, but a very real movie about a Nazi soldier’s son who becomes friends with a Jewish boy at a near-by camp. I recommend it to you all! It definitely reaffirmed my desire to go to some concentration camps while I am over here. I was thinking about what it would be like to visit a camp like Auschwitz. It is not like most traveling, or visiting a new place. It would not be out of pleasure. In a strange way it is out of sorrow, remembrance, disgust, and most of all respect. I am putting it on the top of my list, I think it would be such an incredibly real experience that I would be a fool to pass it up.

That leaves me here. With you. Thinking about how screwed up the Holocaust really was. And further making me appreciate my life and all of my loved ones so much more.

I will be traveling around to some local country towns this weekend. See a castle, maybe catch a Saturday market. I will post pictures and an update soon.



Susan Iverson said...

I am so bummed I missed you online. I almost made it according the time on this post. Oh well, that is my lot in life, I guess. It does my heart good to hear that your teaching is going well already. I really had no doubt though. By the way, there are lots of concentration camps besides Auschwitz. I visited Dachau and it was a very "awesome" experience in the very true sense of the word. I highly recommend one of them. Anyway, can't wait to actually get to talk to you. Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

I remember that 'feeling' from teaching when I was student teaching. After 10 yrs I still remember how their eyes would get big and actually raise their hands to answer questions. Go back to that place in your mind. Its a great memory to fall back on when days are so great. I've also found being flexible is how you stay calm in the job. Sometimes the kids and their behaviors take the lead on how much learning is going to happen. Its usually parents and the other garbage that get in the way of teaching. Also remember, it is just a job. A very important one at that, but it can't be your life. I had that issue my first year, I really had seperate the two places!!!

You are a wonderful person, very calm and upbeat. In the end the kids will walk away with the memories of you listening to them and taking them seriously! Again, you will do great!!!!

We love you and are proud of you!!!
jen and fam

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