Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday! Whee!

Whew, what a week. Don't get me wrong; it's been a pretty good week, considering that I know just how bad weeks can be. But it feels like Monday was forever ago, and we're all tired.

Today went very well. We actually did our workshops. In reading, we talked about ways to choose a reading book. I solicited a couple answers from the whole class, then told them to finish the list in their groups. Then we came back together and made one big list.

You should have seen them in their groups! It was so great. They brainstormed, they took turns, they had eye contact, and they all stayed engaged and on task. I LOVED it. Granted, it was only about four minutes max. But still, it was most excellent to see. Last year, group work was a fucking JOKE. Maybe one student at every other table was working. Alone, not with the group. So I know how lucky I am with this. And yes, I think I expressed this opinion the other day, but it's still miraculous to me, and I don't want to forget my roots, so to speak, so that I can continue to appreciate the bounty of goodness this year is showing me.

In writing, we reviewed the stories we shared yesterday: First, "Thank you Mr Falker" by Patricia Polacco, and second, my story of the horse running away with me. I told one or two classes that story today, and by the end they were smiling and giggling. Then one boy raised his hand and asked, "Is it okay to laugh?" I tried not to goggle at him and replied, "Of course it is!"

I also shared a quick, sort of pointless story about the cricket in my kitchen drawer. The drawer was kinda broken; a bolt had torn a hole through part of it, so you couldn't remove the drawer. And I kicked the drawer, to try and get the big cricket out of the drawer. All that happened was the contents and the cricket bounced up and then back down. "Whee! Whee!" That also made them giggle.

These kids better love me by now. I already know they don't think I'm mean. I suppose that doesn't necessarily mean they think I'm nice (which means weak), but based on their responses to me and my teacher persona and stuff, they seem to respect me. They really respond to the stern thing. It's so interesting.

Anyway, after I shared my stories and we mentioned that Patricia Polacco writes stories from her own experiences, I told the students to take a few minutes to think of a story from their own lives. Then they shared with a neighbor. They saw me begin drafting my story, and then I let them go to start drafting their own stories. They didn't have much time, but I saw some great beginnings. Most wrote some creative titles: The Roller Coaster That Never Stopped; The Bug Attack; The Big Bounce. I was very pleased.

Oh! Mr Principal came in during one of my classes, along with a bigwig guy, I think he's at the district level or something. They came in right before my cricket story and left right as I let them start writing. And I didn't see or hear from Mr Principal after that. I was eager to hear feedback. Well, I was eager to hear positive feedback, but I would be fine with constructive criticism too. Just, you know, feedback.

It's the weekend! I have no life tonight, but am going to hang out with my friend N tomorrow evening. I forgot the homework assignments at school like a dummy; if I feel up to it, I'll retrieve them tomorrow morning.

I'm not quite as broke as before yesterday's paycheck, but I'm not well-off, either. I'd love to take myself to a movie or something fun...but I bet I won't.

Edited to add:

On my way down the hallway after school, I saw one of the girls from last year's Class B, sitting in the chairs outside the office next to her mom. She saw me coming, tugged at her mom, and excitedly pointed down the hall at me. And then she waved and I waved, and when I got up there I said hi and we chatted pleasantly for a moment. She's a good kid and should go far in life.

It was a small encounter, but it made me feel all warm and fuzzy anyway. It was so cute that she was excited to see me!


Anonymouph said...

Hey Jules,

I just got caught up on your last couple weeks of posts. My iBook broke again last week, and it took me awhile to get this dinosaur of a ThinkPad set up with internet capabilities. The good part is, Apple is sending me a BRAND NEW iBOOK!!

Anyway, sounds like you're really off to a great start. I'm so happy for you!

Fred said...

My principal came in this week, too. He stayed a total of two minutes while we were revealing our political leanings on a scale that I had on the board. It's a shame he didn't stay, it's one of the best lessons I have because it generates so much discussion about the way political ideas are acquired.


institutional memory said...

In response to Fred (above): That your principal didn't stay is probably a good thing, since too many principals don't know a good lesson from a kick in the shins. A long, LONG time ago, I had the dubious pleasure of a classroom sit from the Community Superintendent. I was doing a lesson on whether Red China (that shows how long ago this was) should be admitted to the UN, and near the end, asked students to volunteer their opinions. As we went around the room, I asked the superintendent, who was sitting right in the middle, "Dr. Berchuck (anyone remember him from District 24 in the 70s?), what's your opinion on this issue." His reply was, "Shut up and teach."

Now, of course, that's the name of a great blog (not mine) ... ( But at the time, it was just a nasty comment that completely took the wind out of my sails, and made a fool of me in front of the kids. We all got over it, but it was surely one of the more unpleasant moments in a long career.

Tim Fredrick said...

My building administrators are pretty good about sitting down in the room, watching my lesson, talking to the students, and actually observing what kind of teaching and learning is going on. But, when other principals come in together to do walk throughs with the superintendents -- forget about it. They look at what I have on the walls. And, because I have lots of chart paper on the walls, I am therefore doing a good job as a teacher and they are "impressed". Never mind that I could totally be up there spouting lines from the New Testament -- just as long as I have that darned chart paper up!!!