A girl and her cat take on the world with nothing more than a cup of tea and a good book and enough dreams to fill the universe.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a non-themed blog post. It’ll hopefully be a nice change of pace. Last Wednesday, my professor posed the question on questions. What four questions did we all still have about teaching English? What did we still want to learn?
Quite simply, everything.
Well, I want to learn about how to become an active agent of change. How do I do that? How do I make a difference in more than just my classroom? I know I should start small, get my feet under me, and then start, but I dream big. I have big ideas. I have big questions. I have big things that I want to see accomplished and while I do not have the best history of being politically informed, I want to see a change in our education system and that means I’m going to have to change. I’m okay with that, but I’m tired of just blogging about it and talking about it. I want to DO something about it. I want my actions to speak louder than my words (though I want them to be in total agreement).
I definitely want to be.
How do I reconcile what I see in actual classrooms with what I hear in this class? This Special Methods for Teaching English class is so full of hope and great ideas and when I visit actual schools to observe, I am always so disappointed by what I see, what I hear the teachers tell me. Learning isn’t fun, they say. Your students would never be capable of true inquiry, they say. Well, I don’t believe them. I think students are capable of amazing, terrific, wonderful things, each and every one of them. And while learning doesn’t have to be all kittens and rainbows and meaningless games, I do not think that learning is supposed to be a chore. Hard and challenging, yes. When learning is done right, it may be hard and challenging, but it is also incredibly fun and engaging, at least in my experience. I just don’t think we give students the chance. I think students are so used to hearing that learning isn’t fun and that they couldn’t achieve this or that that they believe it. But I’m naive. I’ve never really taught besides an after school robotics class and French class and I don’t think those count for much. What do I know?
I believe that relationships are key to having a great class and getting the most out of each and every student. So, how do I learn to read them? Is this just an experience thing? Or a natural talent that some people have? How do I know which students can take the sarcasm and the gentle teasing and which ones need a gentle matronly, guiding teacher? Is there a key somewhere of “this person needs more attention today because his eyebrows and knit together and he keeps playing with his left thumb?” How do you read students? What do you do when you mess up and read incorrectly? How do you recover a relationship that’s gone sour or one that’s suddenly gone too far? I know we’ve talked briefly over this in class, but I would really like to know more. I’m slightly terrified that I won’t know how to read my class when I start teaching and I’d like some insight on how to tap into that golden part of each student that can motivate them to achieve great things. (Wrapped up in this, I would love to do some roleplaying on how to deal with angry parents. They scare me the most.)
If you have to do an in-class novel, because of some standard or district initiative, how do you do it without killing all of your newborn readers? While observing last week, I saw a class that had to read Orwell’s Animal Farm and another class that had to read Lord of the Flies. I saw two students who actually started reading Animal Farm in class and there was one student who said that she had already finished the book because she was so interested in it. The classes were taught by the same teacher, but because she wanted to insure no cheating on the quizzes or information before hand, she had them read the two different books. I’m not sure I’d be so suspicious of my students, but I was extremely surprised by the two people reading the book actively in class after they finished their grammar quiz and by the one who had already finished the book. Is this normal? Are the other students actually reading the books? How do in-class novels really work?
They work with crying.
Those are my four questions this week on what I would still like to learn about. These are, of course, always subject to change, but these are the things I worry and wonder about. Until next time….
And as a bonus I found this video. About questions. The first 44 seconds are the most relevant to this post and that consists of a 40 second guitar intro. The rest is just a nice song about questions.
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