So much has been going on, it’s hard to figure out what to write about! I was back down at Occupy Wall Street this morning, and I am impressed that it’s still going strong. It makes me hopeful about what is possible. In the meantime, I got some helpful feedback about digital organization systems for data from my last post, and will report back about my experience soon. Speaking of experience, my dissertation research stems from my experience in the classroom. While I have been preparing to start my research in earnest, I have been looking back at my journals, from which I initially constructed blog posts when I was a rookie teacher. My blog authorship as a teacher was not long-lived, because back then, I still didn’t fully understand the internet and was worried about being found out. But I still have those journals. This post might feel incomplete, but I’m going to circle back to it eventually. In the meantime, here’s a look back:
July 24, 2001. I don’t know my classroom assignment yet, but it’ll either be 3rd or 4th grade. I might be in an inconclusion class, which means I’d be one of two co-teachers. The other teacher would be a special education teacher, and I would fulfill the general education portion of the partnership. I’m equal parts nervous and excited. My mentor teacher was late this morning, and the class I’ve been student teaching in all summer went wild. A game of Simon Says erupted into a fight, and once again, I looked like I had no control over a group of students. And there are only half as many students as I’ll have in September. No, I’m probably more nervous than excited.
July 30, 2001. We had a guest speaker today in class, who said some of the following things:
- Never show your emotions.
- You are not a counselor. We are here to triage.
- Do not raise your voice—it’s entertainment to your students.
- Feel your adultness.
- If you structure your days with love, your students pick up on that.
- The contract says you don’t have to break up a fight.
- After you admonish a child for behavior, call on them next to build them back up.
September 16, 2001. We still haven’t had a full week of school, and the country is still reeling from September 11th. I’m not sure I’ve processed what happened. I’m exhausted, and everything hurts. I have to write more later.
October 5, 2001. One 3rd-grade class was split, because the class sizes on the grade were too small. My 3rd-grade class has only 16 students, and I wonder what will happen. And why are the classes so small? I thought overcrowding was a problem in New York City. When I was in the main office today, I overheard that they are splitting another class. I just keep thinking that it’s going to be mid-October, and a whole class of students has no idea who their teacher will be for the year. How are they supposed to feel comfortable in their classrooms? It doesn’t seem fair.
This was all happening almost exactly ten years ago. I can’t believe that someone said, in a class, that “we are here to triage.” What does that even mean? There was so much talk of not smiling or showing emotions, and it was literally impossible for me to abide by those guidelines. And what about “feel your adultness”? Thinking back, we were a group of people who spanned twenty-something to fifty-something, but I guess there was a majority of young people—I had just turned 24 at the start of the school year. And why were we talking about breaking up fights when we hadn’t yet learned the fundamentals of teaching children to read?
I have lots more to say on this, and want to tie it back to something I read recently regarding technology in classrooms today, but I think I’ll wait to continue until my next post.
To be continued…