Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Four and Three

Remember that whole "I will stick to this" thing? Oops.


Four Days:

I have four different preps this year. I've been fortunate with my two freshman classes to have another teacher guiding me through it, but my other classes I've been somewhat on my own. I'm doing decently well with them, but I can't wait until next year. I'll have three preps next year, two of which I also taught this year and one I taught my first year. I'm not teaching over the summer (I'm beginning my M.A.), so I'll have time to plan and have things really worked out for next year.
I know this happens quite frequently, but at my school, many of the veteran teachers feel the need to "break in" the newer teachers (and that means new to the district). They'll pile on the classes and not give them any guidance because "that's how it was my first year." This simply doesn't make sense to me. Because of this practice, we have a first-year teacher who has decided not to return to teaching next year. She's just too exhausted with all the work. (Disclaimer: I realize there's always work in teaching, but this young woman was given five different preps and no guidance at all.)

This practice is changing. Our new department head has been fair. He has taken everyone's strengths and weaknesses into account when creating the master schedule, and except for a few minor issues, it's been very well-received.

Three days:
Yes, today at noon, I will be half-way to ten days off. Not that I'm counting down.

I have three classes still working on term papers, including my two lowest level classes. My two freshman classes have turned them in already and are waiting for me to grade them. I keep reminding them that they had six weeks to write them...

Anyway, my two lower-level classes have never written a term paper before, and they've been very frustrated with the whole process. But I've been dragging them through it.
The English department at my school believes in teaching the notecard method of writing a research paper, and I know that for some this isn't practical and doesn't work very well. But I also know that if they ever move into a higher-tracked class, they'll need to know this.
I've been trying to explain to them that it works very well in helping to organize ideas, and most of these students know that's where there struggles in writing really are. Now that they're beginning to write their rough drafts, they're really beginning to see what I mean. One of them even said to me, "With the notecards and the outline, it's already written. I just have to put it in sentences." Yes, that's the point.

With the drafting of the essay, they're finding a new frustration...and I am, as well. Length. They've never written a four-page paper, and they're finding it really difficult. While I don't think that length equals quality, I do think it's important that they know how to write an extended essay, so I've been sticking to my guns on the length issue...and I've had a lot of frustrated students.
Some have taken my advice and found more information, and others have used their b.s.'ing skills (which they have a lot of practice in) to add pages to their essay...and still others have sat in their chairs and whined. I've got two more days of rough draft writing. The drafts are due Friday, so we'll see how it goes...wish me luck!!


Anonymous Teacher said...

I don't understand departments/teachers who don't help new teachers "because they didn't have help." What a bunch of selfish asshole-ery (using English teacher fiat power to make that a word). I like that at my school, new teachers are guaranteed their own classroom and it's the department chairs who are migrating between rooms on carts.

Airam said...
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