Posted in Education

You’re Late…Minus Five Points?

Tonight grading is on my mind since mid-term grades go out tomorrow. Several of the students are failing simply because they have not turned in assignments. My cooperating teacher’s policy on late work is that they will receive partial credit depending on how soon they turn it in. I like that she still allows them to turn in the work because the work is useful to their learning, but I don’t think their grade should suffer for it. For this reason I make sure to mark their original grade on the assignment before taking off for lateness. On the other hand I want students to become responsible young adults so there has to be some sort of penalty for late work.

Another dilemma about late work is the fact that some students will simply copy a friend’s paper that has been graded and handed back. When helping a failing student organize his binder, my cooperating teacher found another student’s graded work. Of course that sort of cheating could happen before the student turns in an assignment on time. I want all students to learn and if I believe that every assignment is of value then every student should attempt the assignment.

I’ve decided that homework , while it should receive a small grade so that students feel motivated to do it, should be more focused on comments to improve learning. To that end, I am fairly lenient when grading homework. I’ll give credit for close answers and then write notes to help the students improve their learning. Homework is supposed to be a form of practice, so I don’t feel that the students’ grades should suffer. I’m still in a bit of a moral dilemma about how to handle the inevitable late work.

Maybe some soon to be teachers or experienced teachers out there could share their ideas on grading and late work.

Posted in Education, Literature

Heroes

So I have finished four days with my students and five days of student teaching placement. It’s been a marathon. We started the year running. I say that because I feel like we’ve covered so much material. I’ve even gotten to teach some already. I am going to be able to learn a lot from this teacher. It’s going to be a busy but fun semester. If only there wasn’t florescent lighting in the classroom. It hurts my eyes.

Today we were starting Beowulf and discussing heroes. The journal questions were “what is a hero?” and “who is your hero?” Good questions. Most of the students answered “brave” or “selfless” for the first question, and parents were popular answers for the second question. Not everyone had a hero.

The varied answers made me think about the ideas of heroes in our society today. In epic poem time, heroes were immortalized in poems such as Beowulf. These were usually ordinary men with extraordinary strength and courage. Their strength was admirable and achievable if one worked hard. Today though, our heroes are either ordinary people who care for us, such as family, famous people, such as Abraham Lincoln, or fictional characters, such as Superman. The discussion made me think about how we view heroes today compared to how heroes were viewed in Anglo-Saxon culture. It seems to me that we heroize people too quickly. We have lost the grandness of a hero by making heroes of ordinary people who haven’t showed bravery. Can someone really be a hero anymore? Maybe though, my thinking is biased by the heroic acts produced in Hollywood. The heroism depicted on the big screens is enhanced by special effects and careful writing so that it becomes almost impossible to replicate. The acts done by ordinary people, such as mothers and fathers, seem ordinary compared to the mothers and fathers in movies.

So I’m conflicted still on this topic of heroes. What do you think? What is a hero? Who is your hero? Can we even still have heroes today?

I’ll leave you with those questions. I need to get some shut eye so I’m prepared to interact with the students tomorrow.

Posted in Education

God and School

The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next. -Abraham Lincoln.

 

This quote was shared in a song last night at church. As a Christian who also aspires to be a teacher, this is a weight on my shoulders. The way that I teach English will affect how this country runs in the future. That means there has to be more to my job than teaching English. I love literature and the English language but I have to instill more than that into students in order to make a difference in the world.

During the early years of my education major studies at school, I was required to write what the school calls a philosophy of education. I wrote about things such as teaching the whole mind and instilling respect in my students. These are great things, but what is missing is how I’m going to deal with my own personal philosophy about life. I live as a child of God; I’ve been forgiven and shown awesome love. How can I go about sharing that philosophy of living life with students when the government says I cannot mix “religion” and school?

I know I can discuss religious matters when students bring the subject up for discussion but I want to influence students’ lives with God’s love. I want to be able to teach the Bible as more than just literature. I don’t want to skirt around religious topics in a piece of literature. Let’s be honest, most of the writings from pre-contemporary times had influences from religious thinking, and I might even venture to say that current ones do as well depending on how one defines religion. It’s inevitable that God will come up in the classroom.

I had a discussion about all of this with a couple of friends at lunch today. Both are Christians and one is planning to teach middle school math. Basically the only conclusion that we came to is that we can’t avoid this topic in school because that does not profit the students, but teachers also can’t force their ideas on students. It’s a fine balance that I’m not sure I’ve fully grappled enough with. I want to share God’s love but I also know of the restrictions placed on me.

Posted in Class, Education

The Chitter Chatter Needs to Stop

I just finished teaching the opening to Dorian Gray to a senior English class.  Today I was not super nervous, because I had a plan and I knew what to expect.  Little did I know that I would get there and the teacher wouldn’t be there.  It was a sub.  Okay.  New person to watch me.  Thankfully, this sub was nice, knew the majority of the students, and didn’t interfere too much.  It went okay.

My biggest issue was talking.  I can’t seem to keep them from talking.  I wonder if I shouldn’t have moved some of the students away from each other, but that probably would have caused a bigger battle.

So for those of you who are teachers, have teacher minds, or have seen great teachers, any advice about managing the chatter level in a classroom would be greatly appreciated.

It doesn’t help that some of the students had not read nor did they have they books.

Somehow we made it through the hour.  Now to see how they did on the quizzes.

Posted in Education

Adding a Ms. to my Name…

Today, I began my mentor partnership at the community school.  This semester I will be going to the school three times a week in order to learn first hand what it takes to be a teacher.  I am paired up with quite the eccentric teacher and I hope our personalities and ideas do not clash.  She is taking the strategy of throwing me directly into the game.  For instance, it’s day one and she gives me a student and tells me to show him how to write a reflective piece.  Okay.  I haven’t written a reflective piece since high school and I’m not sure what the exact assignment was but now I’ve got to smile and pretend I know what’s going on.  I knew he needed to pick a specific event and reflect so that’s where we started.  It turned out well I believe.

One of the biggest challenges of this was remembering that he is a high schooler who has not had the writing practice that I have experienced.  It was hard to watch him write “theirs” instead of “there’s” but I reminded myself that it’s only a rough draft and his passion is in football, not writing.

The strangest part of the day was when the teacher introduced me as Ms. [insert my last name here].  I was thinking, nope that’s my mom.  I guess I’ll get used to it, because it does give me some sort of authority.  It just feels strange.

Posted in Class, Education

People are be-a-u-tiful.

Classes haven’t even started and I already have a cancelled class and homework.  Yay for me (both literally and sarcastically).  My only assignment at this moment is an article to read and a self-questionnaire.  While trying to get ahead and filling out the questionnaire three days in advance, I found one question particularly intriguing.

What is your earliest memory of learning that people are different?

Here is my response:

I know that we spent time in elementary and high school studying different cultures, but I can’t think of any grand epiphanies during those years.  During high school, there were exchange students who were almost always involved in band with me, I spent three of my spring breaks travelling to Europe, and there were people who believed differently than me.  Even then, I don’t remember ever thinking about how different people are.  For most of my life, I have been taught and believed that people are basically the same throughout, therefore I should treat them the same as I’d like to be treated.  I guess college opened my eyes, as late in life as that seems, because when I got here I truly began to appreciate the differences in people.  I still believe that people are inherently the same and desire the same things in life, but I also appreciate the way that people are different as well.  People’s differences are what make them all individually beautiful.

More response:

I just don’t really get it.  Yeah I know that people are different, but I’m not sure about this class since I don’t like classifying people according to their differences.  People really are basically the same.  That’s what I’ve learned during my travels to various countries.  We all want the same basic things.  I know that people live differently and have different ideas, but that’s what makes them an individual.  Maybe the problem is that I’ve always known that people are different, but I really don’t see how that affects me.  It doesn’t affect how I treat the people, I don’t think.

Ultimately, our differences make us beautiful and our similarities tie us together.

 

(I kinda wanted to give a sarcastic response about “people are different than what, animals”.  Ha.  I didn’t think the professor would appreciate the sarcasm on the first assignment.)

Posted in Education

Educationally-Minded

I have so many things I could write about, considering that I’ve been gone from campus for several days (that means lots of adventures).  I think I shall just write an educationally-minded blog today.  Amidst all of the games I played while at my grandmother’s for Thanksgiving, I also read a book called I’d Like To Apologize To Every Teacher I Ever Had.  It really made me think.  The former TV actor, Tony Danza, decided to take a stint teaching.  He had always wanted to be a teacher, but he pushed it to the side in favor of something else.  One day he decided to go teach.  The station latched on to the idea and decided to sponsor him by making it into a TV show.  Thankfully, he was strict and said no scripting, because he wanted it to be natural.  This turned into the show Teach (of which I’ve only seen one episode), which was eventually cancelled because it was not exciting enough.  However, he continued to teach.  Here are a few of my thoughts as I was reading the book and some of my favorite quotes:

” Being a teacher is part salesman, part actor, and lots of compassion.” Pg 33.

He did an Of Mice and Men scavenger hunt as a review for the test, which I was totally stoked about while reading.  That sounded awesome.

He did an American Idol poetry reading contest.  Awesome Idea!

“The bottom line is that everyone of us has a stake in getting education back on track in America.  even if we can’t all be great teachers ourselves, we should be rooting for those who do go into this profession…we all still need to support the public school system, because our country’s future depends on its success.” Pg 259

I am still a little aprehensive about the TV show part, because I feel that might have swayed some of the enthusiasm.  He did manage to teach even after the station pulled the cameras out of the school, though, so I feel like he at least found a passion for the students.  The other factor is that he only had one class to teach, which meant he had more time to plan.  Oh well.  I still liked many of his ideas.