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.
Last week, I spent some time observing both a science teacher and an English teacher at a local high school. I have no idea why, but these observations always make me extremely nervous. I have read through the questionnaire/rubric they must fill out on me and it is extensive. They must ‘grade’ how I dress, walk, talk, and determine whether or not I’m fit to be a teacher. This little evaluation stresses me out big time, but with a little bit of time, I can begin to loosen up and deviate from my scripted questions, the questions that I must ask to be able to fill out a report later.
And all I can think is please, don’t judge me! I’m going to be a great teacher, I promise!
In my Special Methods for Teaching English class, our professor fills our minds up with big ideas and wonderful hopes and dreams. We want to go out and make the world a better place. We want to start with ourselves and move on to our students. We are incredibly inspired by this professor. She’s the kind of teacher that fills your soul with fire and passion for teaching, even if you already thought you were passionate enough. She makes things like true inquiry in the classroom sound possible, attainable, and worth striving for. She knows that all students can read and with the right book, will want to read. She knows that they all can write too.
This is an excellent portrait of my professor.
So, why when I go into a classroom the picture I see is completely different? There is no real cohesion between what I want in my classroom and what I see in the classroom. It’s like the veils been lifted and I can see why maybe the classroom isn’t working like it could. I can see why students are dragging their feet. In this English class, it took them over an hour to do a vocabulary worksheet. Over an hour to write down ten words and their Latin roots. I could feel my poor English heart breaking. Granted, in this class of nine students, one was being re-introduced into society from an eleven month stint in juvie, one was on his way to jail, one is constantly on and off probation, and one was six months pregnant. Yet, I still wonder if that’s any excuse. It can’t be. These students can achieve and letting them dink around for an hour to do their vocabulary because you don’t think that they can do it faster is an insult to intelligence everywhere. Yet, I have never really taught. I have no real experience, so maybe I don’t know. But what I do know is that I am going to try like the dickens to challenge my students, to make them realize that they are better than an hour plus on vocabulary. That they are worth their education. That they want their education.
They will find their greatness.
In the science class I observed, the teacher flat out told me that students would be unable to achieve pure inquiry. The lab I observed was a lab demonstrating that polarity of water through combing water and oil and ethanol together and seeing how they separated. It’s October. Everyone knows oil floats on water (scientifically, it’s because oil is less dense and non-polar, while water is polar). If we hold our expectations of students so low, of course they will never be able to do true inquiry. They will never be able to do canned inquiry. They will hardly be able to fill out the worksheet packet he handed out. My science heart broke at this.
Can I just teach with a bionic heart so I don’t have to worry about it anymore?
Why do we set the bar so low for students? Is it because somehow it’s easier? For the students? For ourselves? Because we don’t have to think? They don’t have to think? It is easier to promote ignorance than it is to promote thinking. This is a sad state of affairs if this is the way classrooms are designed all over the United States. I know that I alluded to all of this yesterday in my questions for class, but I really want to learn how to make change happen. I also want to know how to properly respond to these sorts of situations because, frankly, I’m stumped. How do I reconcile what I know to be true in my mind when the visible truth is so very different?
Push your mind, get inspired & be on top of the world.
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