May 25, 2011 1 Comment
My mentor teacher said this week is going to be a “normal” one and it made me wonder what is going to be different from last week. She was absent for three days before we showed up so she wasn’t sure what the three different subs had covered and first graders aren’t always a reliable source because there are often conflicting stories. The three days I was in the classroom last week were spent getting things back in order and getting caught up with work. I don’t think this week will bring better attitudes to the students and make them any calmer or well behaved. I am definitely getting more comfortable with controlling the room because I am able to speak up if my mentor teacher does not see something or if she is busy with something else; either way she backs me up. My mentor has also made me very comfortable in the classroom and I am truly looking forward to the rest of this week.
My mentor teacher has brought up the time of year and the number of days left many times in the past six days. She has told me she has given up and so have the students. This is one of those situations that I can see myself in because I remember the end of the year and it always being a hard time, kindergarten through 12th grade. At this time, the amount and quality of work go down and everyone is just itching to get out of school (including one of my students that was sent home for lice). Although I understand, I think it is important for the teacher to do her part and not necessarily show her true feelings. Instead, I believe she should put on a happy face for the students. The problem is, she really isn’t afraid to have them know how she truly feels. She discourages the children from wanting to be at school and puts them in the mindset of, “If she doesn’t want to be at school, then why should I?” Students want teachers who want to teach them and my teacher is an obvious opposite. Not only does she want to get out of the school for the year, but she was planning on transferring until she was afraid to risk her building seniority.
During my mentor’s prep time, I was able to sit down and talk to her about some students. She initiated the conversation because some of them were taking advantage of me while I was helping with a reading lesson. She seems very knowledgeable about the kids’ backgrounds, but that doesn’t seem to change her outlook on anyone in the class. Knowing the parents, however, can make you label the children before you know them. One of the kids has a special needs mother, but he is in angel in class so it is not a huge deal like some of the other ones. Knowing about his special needs mother can keep the teacher from pushing her student to his full potential. There is one boy in my classroom who has parents that don’t speak English and that could really have an effect on him. He is turning out to be a wonderful student and a hard worker, but my teacher expressed the difficulty that arises when she has to talk to his parents. A little girl’s mom was shocked when she was told that her daughter behaves in class. Whether it is an act at home or in the classroom she is not the same little girl in both situations. I want to know more about the kids and be able to know which ones to help and which ones just want attention, but that’s not going to happen in a week and a half. Is anyone else getting taken advantage of by their students?
Not only did I get to help out more around the classroom on Tuesday, but it was the first time I interacted with the students in a teacher position. Their teacher did the first part of the reading lesson and then she let me read a book with the students. Although I was only reading to them and not introducing them to new concepts, I was able to call on different students to help me read. The teacher described it as a difficult book for first grade reading but the children did an excellent job and I was thrilled with how many volunteered. It is always hard to be the new person because the children often take advantage of you. As an observer who has only been here for four days, I am not sure who will give me a hard time and who will make my life easy and this lesson was a prime example. The first student I called on was on who I have had no problems with in the class, behaves, and seems like an excellent student. When I called on her, she didn’t do what I asked although it kind of looked like she was trying. At that point I wasn’t sure if it was just me or a common thing she did in the class. I tried to help her sound out the words but that didn’t help much at all. My mentor explained that some students will read in their head or just mouth the words and the lesson will go no where. I was not expecting to stand up in front of the class and do anything today but it was a nice surprise and I was happy to do so. I really try to be engaged with the students whether I am standing up in front of them and commanding their attention or if I am sitting at the side of the room. On Thursday, I was able to actually teach a reading lesson. The kids weren’t completely engaged, but they were struggling more than I had seen them do in the past few days. I did my best to help the students, but my mentor and their teacher became furious. She yelled at the students for taking advantage of me and for not reading like she knew they could. They all apologized to me, but it was a little sad that they took advantage of me after a wonderful math lesson the day before and day of thinking they respected me than that. How are these students such good actors?
An interesting point that has been discussed is how the kids in this school basically ignore female voices but are intrigued and captured by any male voice. I have seen four male authority figures at my school, but none in the teacher positions. The kids have come to ignore any female voice. Not only do many of these children only have female voices in their academic lives, but that is all they get at home as well. I have heard that many of these students have fathers who are gone or locked up. Some students have linked a female voice to an empty threat and they choose not to listen to their teachers because they think nothing will happen. This is a link to a video of an assembly that took place at my school. The man with the basketball is a part of the Harlem Globetrotters and the kids LOVED him! The announcer was loud and in charge and the kids were in a trance and so engaged with the whole program. The first part of the video shows grades K-2 and the second half is 3-5.