Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Just a normal day.
Now that the year 12s have gone, my only 'official' teaching was a double period after lunch with my year 11 ESL class. I knew I'd be spending the first four periods wading through emailed essays that my year 12s would send, so I'd be slightly brain dead by the time my year 11s rolled in. I wandered in to work, vaguely thinking that maybe I'd get them to do individual work on their writing folios. I could help them if needed, and I could correct some more of the torrent of year 12 practise essays that are pouring in. It would be a quiet time, a civilised time, a time for quiet reflection, creativity and brotherly love....
Then I get asked if a student teacher could observe my class. Shit.
"Yes!" I say, big smile plastered all over my dial. "The more the merrier."
Shit. Now I have to come up with a lesson that is vibrantly exciting, something to whip up enthusiasm in both her and the kids for this magic thing called Education. In effect, I have to show her How it's Done. ( Well, that's not strictly true. I could run a really awful lesson to show her How it ISN"T Done... she'd probably learn a lot more if I did... I did think about it... but pride got in the way. I'll teach those kids something. Dammit.)
The paper. They're doing language analysis on their exam. A bit of ploughing through the opinion pages picking out persuasive techniques will be just the ticket. Done!
A flying trip to the common room, a purloined paper, scissors and glue and I'm set. Just have to photocopy a class set, hand them out, a bit of razzle-dazzle up the front to get them started and it'll be great. Good on me. And its only half way through lunch.
Just as I pick up my 3 master copies to take them to the photocopy room, Sarge mentions that a certain committee is meeting tonight after school. A committee that I need to have an important letter about class sizes for ESL in front of. A letter that I haven't written yet. Shit.
Why does procrastination always bite you in the bum?
Throw down the master copies. Start tapping away on the computer with feverish intensity. Shit. It's half way through lunch I have NO time!!!! Keep going. Finish it. Race up to the common room to find the other year 12 ESL teacher to run it by her. She makes a suggestion to add. Then we speak to another teacher who has the inside goss on class numbers for next year. It was worse than we knew. (Is it time to use the "f" expletive yet? Don't have time...) Back up the halls to my office. Keep typing. Bell goes. Shit. I haven't photocopied the opinion pieces.
Knock knock. There's the student teacher. Fine. Deep breath.
New plan. Teach her how to work on the bleeding edge of teaching. The 'make it up as you go along' lesson. (Actually, some of my best work has come from this. But it's not recommended as a usual thing.)
I breeze into the class "Hi Horror heads!" Mark the roll. Introduce the student teacher. Then start talking. I glance over. She's taking notes. Oh MY GOD!!! That's never happened before. Now the pressure's on.
My brain races. I can split them up into groups to work on the pieces. I was going to let them do it in pairs, but I only have three bits of paper. Three into 17 goes.... whatever. They can work it out. But I have to use up time....
I know! Spontaneous speeches!!! Yay! For thirty seconds each kid had to stand up and talk off the top of their head about a topic I gave them. This can be hard for ESL kids. It can be hard for anyone, if it comes to that. But... it was fantastic.
Jason the soccer nut had to talk about how much better AFL was than soccer.
Denis had to talk about soft toys.
Shwuang had to talk about the joys of owning a little sister....
Sun Li talked about why she sits by the window every lesson.
Michelle talked about why Australia was the best country in the world.
Dom talked about why Australia was the worst country in the world....
...and on it went. A good twenty minutes gone. Yay. Only an hour to go.
I talk about the task. I'm funny (the student teacher was laughing. She wasn't taking notes. Good.)
The kids split themselves up. I have a brainwave. When the bell goes for the break between periods 5 and 6, they all have to go outside and scamper around for 5 minutes while I go and photocopy. They agree.
While they're working I answer any questions and define any words they have trouble understanding while frantically working on the letter. Bell goes. Shovel them out. Student teacher and I race up to the photocopy room, me spouting jargon about the educational validity of the task as we go.
Back to the room. Let them in give out sets of the work answer more questions finish the letter.
Look around the room. The kids are really engaged with the task. All three groups are talking about the language, debating about how the writers are twisting the words for various effects..... there is actual learning going on!!! The student teacher is taking notes again. I don't care. This is turning into a great lesson.
Twenty minutes before the bell, the groups have to stand up and report what they've done. (Welding written and oral skills together.... write that one down, student teacher!!) They nailed it. I was rapt. They've really got a handle on how to analyse English. I love these kids.
Bell goes. "See you later, twit faces!" Quick chat to student teacher, go and hand in letter to committee head, go and cross mark year 12 essays with other year 12 English teachers, go home, go to doctor for medical so I can become a permanent teacher at the school (after today,... do I really want to? Yes of course, just kidding), back home make dinner, Mum and Dad come over to drop off the dog....
I love my life. It's not often dull.
By the way, Jack got a distinction in a big Maths competition run by Westpac. Top 4% in the state. Not bad, hey?