Well. My university supervisor came the other day to observe. Boy did she come the right day. Timing is everything. It was a really good day. The students were engaged, and they were learning, and it was flowing and working and fun. They were paired up studying a document, and aside from the one or two whose refusal to engage is profound and stubborn and honed by years of practice, they were collaborating and doing it and wow.
And silly me, I thought This ain't so hard, I can do this, not bad ole boy. And then there was today. They come into today pre-on edge because it was sunny out and it's second semester senior year. And mid-winter break is next week, so check-out time is like Thursday morning. Then stir in all the emotional highs and lows of Valentimes, and all the sugar highs and lows of chocolate and candy bracelets and those little hearts that say Be Mine. Whew, what a day. If the supervisor had observed today she'd still not be done listing my failures.
But it's not me, it's not me, it's the students, I protest -- not sure how much I believe it. But there is something very real about the ebb and flow and roller coaster of the classes. This day they're good little listening boys and girls. The next day they're climbing the walls and hitting each other. Today wasn't poorly planned or disorganized. It didn't have unclear goals. It even had a video, the cheap way to entertain while teaching. Today the teacher next door called security during last period. No one was even clear how things started or what those girls were doing on the stairs for so long. I have to choose to not take it personally.
Tomorrow concludes my first stint teaching. Back to college for about 6 weeks to see what they know, then back again for another month in high school. Same students -- this much closer to graduation. I expect to be up to my eyeballs in reflecting. What assessments did I do, and what did I learn from them? How did my methods work and what would I try differently? What did I try to develop a relationship with all the students? What did I do to draw out the quiet ones, and what would I try to do it more effectively? etc. etc.
Meanwhile, I'm reading The Manufactured Crisis [Berliner and Biddle, 1995], debunking the constant right-wing harangue about the failures of America's schools since the 1980s, touched off by the A Nation At Risk report during the Reagan years. Very good. Here's a nice quote:
"This does not mean that all advocates for policies that would harm public schools have *hidden* selfish motives. On the contrary, some announce their selfish motives openly."