August 17, 2007

I’m a teacher!

Posted in classroom stories, lesson plans, reflection at 11:31 pm by mrsmauck

First two days DOWN!  And I think they went really well! I started out having them fill out student information cards: they wrote down their name, preferred name, e-mail address, average amount of time spent on homework per week, and three things they like to do. I would have liked a better method for learning names, but oh well. After I went over my expectations and syllabus (which lasted a bit too long, I think), we launched into our first learning experience, and it was a good one! I stole this idea from graycie about a year ago, and am finally getting to use it! We read this poem called Mountain People by Jo Carson, from her book Stories I Ain’t Told Nobody Yet.

Mountain people
can’t read,
can’t write,
don’t wear shoes,
don’t have teeth,
don’t use soap, and don’t talk plain.
They beat their kids,
beat their friends,
beat their neighbors,
and beat their dogs.
They live on cow peas,
fatback, and twenty acres
straight up and down.
They don’t have money.
They do have fleas,
overalls,
tobacco patches,
shacks,
shotguns,
foodstamps,
liquor stills,
and at least six junk cars in the front yard,
Right?
Well, let me tell you:
I am from here,
I’m not like that
and I am damned tired of being told I am.
~ Jo Carson

We talked about the shift in viewpoint at “Right?”, the staccato rhythm, and finally, the stereotypes. Then I said, “You know, just about every group of people has some stereotypes associated with them: things other people believe about you just because you’re a member of that group. What kinds of stereotypes do you guys see, as teenagers?” They were uncertain at first, but then they found their groove. Then I passed out a new version of the poem called “Teenagers Can’t,” with blanks beside all the “can’t”s and “don’t”s. They completed their poems in small groups and then volunteers read theirs aloud. They seemed to get a kick out of it, and there were some moments of brilliance in each poem. Then last night I took the poems from each class and combined the best parts to get one phenomenal class poem. Today I got to experience the payoff. They loved seeing their efforts typed up and on the overhead, and they recognized parts of their own poem. I told each class I was really proud of them, that I thought their poems were just as good, if not better, than “Mountain People,” and I do. I think my sophomores’ poem was my favorite:

Teenagers
can’t be quiet,
can’t be polite,
don’t have respect,
don’t care,
don’t listen.
They stress over everything
And care about nothing.
They sleep too long and talk too much.
They know what they want and
Don’t like what they have.
They act stupid.
They do have long hair,
Dirty clothes everywhere,
Speeding tickets,
Braces,
Dirty socks,
Dirty rooms,
High phone bills,
And nothing to do.
Right?
Well, let me tell you:I am a teenager,
I’m not like that
And I am tired of being told I am.

After we read their collective poem, I had them journal some things teenagers can do. We shared, and then I asked them how they can tell other people that they can do these things. “We can do it,” they said. And they can!

August 3, 2007

New blog, new blogger!

Posted in blogs, mommy, reflection at 3:18 am by mrsmauck

I’m working on a story for Oklahoma Today magazine on Oklahoma blogs, and these insightful, dedicated, interesting bloggers have inspired me! As the school year is about to begin, I really want to have an online haven where I can count on more layers of content, more readers, and certainly more posts (that last one depends on me, I suppose). I really want to be a reflective teacher who participates in the current conversation on teaching, not just hiding out in my classroom, feeling scared and alone and unsure of what I’m doing. I know that to do this I need to be a better blogger: read the great blogs that are out there, leave comments, and put more thought and effort into reflection and posting. I want to be able to look back at this first year of teaching and learn from it, and I think this blog is the perfect place to start. I’ve been skipping through baby-land without a care in the world for blog-land (except for semi-frequent photo posts to my personal blog, at the hisses of my distant family members), but now I want that to change.

 Falling off the blog bandwagon was just way too easy: I quit reading the excellent carnivals, stopped posting comments, then stopped reading my Bloglines, and basically quit posting until very recently. But I’m back and I want to learn and think and reflect so I can be the best teacher i can be. Help me, fellow bloggers!