Friday, August 17, 2012

7 Days Down, 173 to Go. :)

What an interesting week.  I am definitely tired and I need some relaxation.  I am also looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow with relish.  And I used "relish" correctly in that sentence.  "Relish" was one of the words in a story a lot of my kids defined as part of a worksheet I made them do. . .about half of them still didn't use it correctly in a sentence.  I'm thinking that if I want them to learn it at all, I have to make them redo those sentences and then give me five more.

That was actually a great brainstorm.  Brainstorms are very necessary to survival.  There are so many different ways to impart information in a meaningful way, and when we are getting trained as teachers, we are literally bombarded with information.  It's essentially impossible to retain that information, so when I do have a brainstorm like that which actually helps me, my mind explodes from all the sheer awesome.

I have learned that I do love this age group.  When kids act out in my class and I write their names up on the board, half of them will come see me after class and apologize of their own accord.  Simply because they feel bad.  Some kids just need a push in the right direction.  They were working on some questions about a short folktale we had read, and a few kids were stumbling on a couple questions.  I walked over to them individually, told them which passage to reread, and then all of them were answering those questions when I returned.

One of my colleagues gave me some invaluable advice: compliment the kids or the class three times for every negative comment you make.  If you stay in this ratio (3:1), the kids will like you and you will have a better time.  IT'S TRUE.  I haven't gotten mad once this week, and believe you me, there's been plenty of occasions for that to happen.  I have gotten a little frustrated, but then it's been actually easy to compliment the kids who are doing the right thing and to just remember that they're not wasting my time.  They're wasting their own time.  I could be working in the spice mines on Kessel, but instead I'm teaching and if they're not willing to learn, then I assign busywork and take a step back and try again in five minutes.  At this age, they are still so eager to please that if you give them five minutes to calm down and to refocus, THEY WILL.

It's insane.

Funny Stories/Unique Incidents:

1.  I was talking about how folktales are false or based in superstition, then gave the example of The Little Mermaid.  Student raises her hand.  I call on her.  She goes, "Mermaids are real, though.  Scientists have found proof". All hell breaks loose.  Another student goes, "Those scientists are whack".  I may have laughed a bit too much.

2.  As an example of a noun that is a thing but doesn't fit into the "you can smack it, therefore it's a 'concrete' noun" category, I brought up atoms.  I mentioned that it is possible to split an atom but it's incredibly difficult.  Children then assume I am a nuclear physicist and that I know all the answers to the universe, and begin asking me how to split an atom.  I do appreciate the fact that they think I know everything.

3.  Today, I turned homework in class into a reward for one class, and then told them that if they were extra good for five minutes we would listen to classical music.  We totally rocked out to Dvorak's "New World Symphony".

4.  One girl came very close to a breakdown in one of my classes because she couldn't find her assignment (which she expressed to me by saying, "You never gave me one," to which I then answered, "You haven't been absent, you HAVE to have one").  She had turned it in the day before.

5.  Another kid turned in her worksheet the day before.  She then proceeded to ask me if I still had it.  My response:  ". . .Yes. . .why wouldn't I?"

6.  Yet another student labeled the word "squirrel" as an abstract noun.

7.  I came up with hand motions for the 5 elements of plot and made my students remember that rising action is when problems start to happen by having them say "problems" like a Valley girl.

8.  Apparently, even in 5th grade, cooties are still a thing.  I was making my students shake hands as their hand motion for the resolution of a story (#5), and several kids refused to shake hands.  Creatively, one student drew an outline of his hand on a whiteboard and then made his partner shake that.

9.  While learning about nouns, under the category of things, all the classes listed animals.  In one class, however, a student goes, "But animals aren't things -- they're people!!"  You have to give her credit for genuinely loving animals, but I definitely shot that one down.  The same girl also asked if we could stop talking about Little Red Riding Hood because she didn't like that the wolf was portrayed in a negative way.

10.  I had a student raise his hand upwards of a dozen times in one class, and every time I called on him he would forget what he had to say.  EVERY TIME.

Needless to say, at the very least, these kids keep me entertained.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Survival Mode: Engaged


I have survived lots of things: terrible jokes, bad puns, horrible smells, painful hangnails, mold. . .the list goes on and on.  One thing I am now able to add to my list is that I have survived the first day of teaching as a full-time, first-year teacher.  It's like I'm real or something now.

And, all in all, it wasn't too bad.  In fact, I would describe it as fun.  I am teaching four sections of 5th grade English, or Language Arts, if you will.  I have learned some things, and I have enjoyed some things.

Things I Have Learned:

  1. It feels really good to have made a whole bunch of packets and papers before they're actually needed.
  2. Attendance is unfun.
  3. Copy machines must be cajoled, particularly mine.  I must coo and coddle and turn any number of knobs before I can actually copy anything.
  4. When put before a captive audience of 25-odd students, all that comes out of my mouth is $5 words.  It may elicit confused looks on their faces, but it will benefit them in the end.
  5. Most of my jokes go over their heads and thus I resort to doing voices and making faces.
  6. My coworkers are very nice and helpful.
Things I Have Enjoyed:

  1. I asked the kids to tell me an interesting fact about themselves.  One kid said, "I'm dangerous."  Bear in mind, he's 10.
  2. I also asked the kids to draw me a pretty pretty picture on the back of the diagnostic I gave them today.  I got, in no particular order: a narwal, zombies eating brains, Godzilla, several flowers, dogs, cats, and at least three cute and funny depictions of myself.
  3. One drawing was of sharks in the ocean with a sign that said, "Be careful!  The water is shark infused".  I laughed for about five minutes.
  4. Yelling "HUSTLE HUSTLE HUSTLE" at stragglers in the hallways.
  5. A group of students used the word "aesthetic" mostly correctly in about 30 sentences over the course of two days.  Then, when I told them they were creaming the other groups and had to stop because they were vocabulary monsters, I made them make monster noises and claws.  Oh the power.
  6. My coworkers are very nice and helpful.
Needless to say, I am actually quite looking forward to this year.