Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Difference between "doing the work" and learning

I'm not sure how to help these students in the Bookend view the "work" in the Middle School reading class as something other than just another "to do" item on their already too long list of things they have to complete. They are all so stressed as it is - and keep asking what the due dates are for all the different assignments, as in "if I can just finish all these @#$#@ tasks, then I'll be done with class." In reality, they'll never be done in the true sense of the word; teaching is a process of learning how forever. It's like their own students who view each assignment as a task to finish rather than a vehicle through which they can learn something. And how do I convince them that there IS something to learn from the assessment assignment, or the book club discussion, or the instructional reflection? Maybe the question I need to ask is "Is there something to learn from each of these?" Truth be told, I eliminated a couple of assignments from the ones I usually use in this class - what would they do if I hadn't? Maybe, in the end, it will take getting finished with this semester and having the luxury of time to reflect on our work together - but maybe not.

I started class tonight with Q & A about the assessment assignment and the learning cycle class they had with Leigh and Jamie. The discussion about the assessment assignment took so much longer than I had expected - I wonder if they recognize the irony of my frustration with questions asked that had been answered earlier in the semester -- better yet, do I recognize the irony of their frustration with me? By the time we began the vocabulary topic, half the class was almost asleep and the other half just wanted to "get it over." I hate having class so late in the day when they've already put in a full day and are so bone weary they could fall asleep at the drop of a hat.

I used to think that the READ 867 [middle school reading] class was the perfect class to take along with student teaching, but I'm not sure anymore. READ gets kind of lost among all the flotsam and jetsam of student teaching, observations, and other courses. And, of course, there is that old notion that whatever I'm teaching is more important than anything else they have to do. The truth is, though, that the one thing my MAT was missing was a literacy course. So, how could I decrease the stress on the students in 867, but maintain a level of engagement that would ensure that they learn? Maybe if I had NOT done Book Clubs - I actually debated on that, and decided that reading and discussing a professional book was something they needed to do - and the books they've chosen are great books [they stand in for a textbook, and are much more interesting to read than a textbook]. Maybe it's just the time of the semester that has us all freaking out.

We are so far behind - because of the stupid weather! But I can't try to make it all up during "call back" days - I'll just have to decide what to eliminate, and every night the list to eliminate grows exponentially -- Well, it's late and I'm still tired from the red-eye flight home. Think I'll pack it in and try again tomorrow to think through this.