29 July, 2008

"Why are you just a teacher?"

Yesterday was a perfect stereotypical day in a "high-need" school in the city. 
I forced myself to go in to student teaching despite having been in the hospital all weekend so I was planning on just observing the whole day. 
5 minutes into 1st period half of the girls in class jumped out of their seats screaming because a dead mouse fell out of the wall. I am not sure what to do in the face of a dead mouse, so I went in the hall and dragged in the assistant principal from the social studies department. 

The teacher I'm working with never arrived so I started making up a lesson with the material we would need to play a Spanish version of MASH. No one came to inform me that the teacher wouldn't be coming to school so I had to leave the class alone to go find out. A sub came after the 2 hour 1st period ended. The regular teacher had left no work to do and the sub knew no Spanish so I was on my own for the entire morning, trying not to get sick or have my students running all over the building. These first 2 hours, by the way, were illegal since I am not yet certified to teach. 

Lack of communication and support for teachers (and inexperienced student teachers!) is a huge problem in a lot of schools here. Sometimes it can be helpful to have the freedom that comes with a principal who doesn't monitor you too much. But when all kinds of things are happening and you have no idea what to do, it is distressing to say the least. The mice? Gross and probably a health hazard, especially in the non-air-conditioned building in summer heat. But also pretty common in schools (in Brooklyn at least).  There was a shooting about 2 blocks from the school, involving an 18 year-old, over the weekend, so mice probably don't seem like a big problem. 

I wanted to cry for pretty much the entire time I was teaching yesterday. But I survived, in one piece, and things went well in class today, so whatever I did yesterday didn't do any permanent damage. And at the end of the day (today at least) I love the students I work with, I love the language I'm teaching, and I love the city I live in. I can't fix all of the problems at my school. I'm ok with not saving the world, which is not something I ever expected to say. But there are things I can do and after 7 weeks of training I'm figuring out what they are. 

21 July, 2008

bad person? maybe. good teacher?

After the weekend I had (minus the amazing Santogold performance in the park sunday) I was expecting to have a horrible time during my evaluation this morning. But somehow it was the best lesson I have ever taught- my students remembered things we learned last week (maybe they studied for the first time this summer) and even the one who dislikes me so much that she usually leaves the room when I teach volunteered to share answers with the class. 
Even after 3 weeks of actually teaching I realize that everyone is right when they say that you can't spend all of your time trying to change the world. I am happy if I can get everyone to write one complete, correct sentence by the end of the 2 hour class period every day. 

12 July, 2008

me lo ha dicho el viento

This week I needed some pictures from newspapers or magazines for an activity for my students.  I used the papers and magazines I had in my apartment which may have been part of the problem. The problem being that I wanted to pick out pictures of different types of people (age, occupation, race, etc etc). I could only find pictures of wealthy white people and Barack Obama (who, by the way wants your kids to learn Spanish). For the next activity, my kids have requested Raven Simone (or however you might spell that). 

The Spanish certification test actually included something from that lit class in Spain which con H, Greg and I spent looking at inappropriate newspaper ads in the back row and trading museli. And something from the class in which my group once answered "This poem means: red bull gives you wings." Luckily I pay some attention and I think I may have actually passed. 

After the test I went to Central Park to write lesson plans on the back of a receipt from Shakespeare & Co, which I went to to finally replace my bookmark and buy some things as I'm reentering my beat writer phase, and to hear Julieta Venegas. Hear, not see, because summerstage was packed. But she sang my favorite songs of hers and everyone watching was happy. Partly of course because they weren't in line for the Bon Jovi concert for 10 hours where umbrellas, bags, and coolers were all prohibited.  

I am once again too tired to do all of the things I should be doing, and managed to fall into the courtyard trying to carry my laundry basket to the other building. Every day of class someone comes in on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Although maybe if we hadn't spend 2 hours eating lunch friday we would be less stressed this weekend. 

Aussi, bonne quatorze juillet! This weekend last year was so much fun, minus walking home from the Eiffel Tower and being woken up by the kids playing soccer in the hallway.