Saturday, March 26, 2011

We'll Meet in the Middle.

"I have some bad news. My notebook?"
"You forgot it?"
"I lost it."
I went to South Jr High in Lawrence, KS to watch Kelly Hart teach some middle schooler’s their p's and q's, and some other random things. Kelly (who does happen to be my [favorite] cousin in-law) has been teaching for around five years, she's 28, and I'm pretty sure she's my new favorite middle school teacher. She fits right in along with the kids in a perfect blend of friend and teacher; it was amazing to watch her teach. I think I might have been inspired.
My goal wasn't to fall in love with middle schoolers, it was more like I was hoping that by the time my five hours in South Jr High were done I would at least rethink the decision of sending my own future middle schoolers off to boarding school in France (which was my initial feeling towards pre-teens) when the time came. It was so entertaining though! I'm still not sure that I'd like to ever teach middle school, but I definitely think I could substitute without wanting to beat my head against a wall.
We started off the day by running some errands; we ran down to the office to pick up some t-shirts, then to the copier to make copies over worksheets to do with the Bermuda Triangle. First period was 7th graders, and Percy Jackson! This is what I love about middle school - the books! I think out of the 11 students in class during first period there were only three kids that were not on an IEP, and one of the three remaining kids was an ESL kid. It was entertaining. There was a lot of student involvement in the reading, and Mrs. Hart would stop throughout the chapter and define a word, or ask which paranormal category the current character fell under. The time kind of flew by. They school does not use smartboards, although I guess there is one teacher in the building who does have one. Instead, it is sort of like a webcam, I think, that is being used. It flipped back and forth between showing what was up on the computer, and what Kelly had written out on the desk with the flip of a button. It was pretty cool, and I think I like them better than the smartboard, especially since they’re apparently cheaper!
            The desks were arranged in groups of four, spread out around the classroom. Mrs. Hart showed me her seating chart, and how she arranges and groups the kids together using one “high” student, two “middle” students, and one “low”. She was super organized about the whole thing, which made it clearer for me. I have to admit, I sort of hate group work, but it seemed to work really well for her classes. Once class was over she had to walk one of the students over to his next classroom, and then it was planning period! We ate some donuts, ran some errands, talked to the assistant principal about basketball and government funding/state assessments, and ran over her lesson plans for the week following spring break.
            Third period was eighth graders. I dislike eighth graders. They are like seventh graders, except with a superiority complex. There were around 20 kids, and they were hyper, and wore mix-matched socks and fuzzy shoes, and swished their pony-tails and baggy shorts around like they were 50 Cent. They were ending a lesson over Rikki Tikki Tavi, and they were given the hour to work on their papers, using the laptops only after they had written a rough draft and it had been deemed worthy. I kind of spaced out during this time and took some pictures!
Mrs. Hart's desk and wall!

The outside of her classroom.

Mrs. Hart (look at the glass walls!)

            Fourth period was probably my favorite, and it was also the last period of the day. There were 24 9th graders, and they were going over Shakespeare, so it was a lecture. I learned so much though! For the most part, the kids were quiet and listened pretty well, but I think it’s mostly because Mrs. Hart does so well at…, well, not being old. The slide-show was titled, “The man, his writing style, his theater. Oh, and Romeo & Juliet, too.” I think I’ve been struggling/in awe with this class so much because it’s just so different from what I’m used to. My teachers growing up were all older, and not too often funny. Every kid had to turn to their partner at the end of the period (which was broken up by lunch, and then finished with a remaining 30 minutes of class at the end of the day) and tell them three things that they had learned about Shakespeare today. Kelly says this helps them, because when they look back on the three things they were to remember, they’ll also (hopefully) remember the conversation they had with their partner, and in turn, the other person’s three things. It was a fantastic day all around.
Oh, and:
  • 10 Things I Hate About You
  • Swagger
  • Died on his birthday
Those are my three. J
                I did my last five hours of observation at Udall Middle School, and they did dissecting frogs! Well, not the entire day, I'm getting ahead of myself. I did the first hour in the class of Bob Classen, and he was teaching some science class out in the IDL classroom. When I asked what IDL stood for, he said, "Individualized....Independent...I don't really know... It does have something to do with Distance Learning". They were going over the test, and then they did some papers on their own. Since no one else was actually in the classroom, we talked. Of course, prior to all of this, Classen had to tell the classroom how we knew each other. My senior year in high school I hit a deer, and while I was sitting on the side of the road crying my eyes out, and this teacher pulls up and asks me to get out of the middle of the road. Then he sits with me until my parents show up while I cry about orphaning Bambie. He tells this to his students. It's embarrassing. And moving on! Second hour was a quiz, and 6th graders were continuing their testing. I did the rest of the hours in Nicole Welshan's class, and it was biology. And we dissected frogs, and it was gross.

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