Thursday, September 08, 2005

Survivor: School Edition

I know, I know, any TFA Corps Member or, I'm assuming, Teaching Fellow, has compared their job to that island based reality show. But it's so often TRUE!

Last night, I really didn't know if I would make it through today. I went to bed with a HIGHER fever than when I woke up - and that was AFTER a day off... tossed and turned, sweated, it was like one of those Victorian novels where the doctor says, "Well, all we can do is wait... tonight we will know... either the fever will break or she'll die." Okay, I'm really thinking about Beth in Little Women here, so maybe that's not a Victorian novel, but you get the idea.

I didn't die. I did, however, OD on very-drowsy cold medications, which didn't kick in until about 3 hours before I had to wake up. So when the alarm went off at 5:30, I promptly fell back to sleep. Suffice to say, I took a cab part of my commute and purchased both breakfast and lunch, and was very happy that I took a shower the night before, but I made it to work.

And proceeded to have a very good day. As my principal said around 3 pm, this was the best day she'd had in.... oh, a long time!

My schedule is a bit awkward - we really need to fill our vacancy - but I was able to use the same lesson with both my sixth graders and my seventh graders today, and will be able to give them the same diagnostic (it focuses on measurement) tomorrow, so that is how I am getting through the week.

Basically, we talked about the difference between science, the school subject, and science, the discipline. I asked what kinds of jobs use science other than scientist; they came up with chef, gardener, astronaut, doctor, nurse, science teacher, engineer, and many more. One seventh grader - a boundary-tester herself - said, "Students!" When I asked why, she explained, "Students do experiments to find out what their teachers are like." True that. They answered a bunch of questions about their attitude towards science, what they think scientists do every day, what subjects they've studied before and which they find most interesting, and so on. And finally, I let them leaf through the textbooks we will be using to get an idea of upcoming topics (and to get that "ewww! look what's on page 212!" out of their systems...).

I have identified a few attention-seekers who are going to require a lot of patience and positive attention to keep them from going over to the dark side. One boy, a seventh grader, is an absolute sweetheart, but the child needs to interact with the teacher literally every five minutes. One minute, I'm frowning at him as he casually pokes the back of his friend's neck with a pen. The next, he has is hand in the air and is informing me that he wants to share when we finish the worksheet, and can he go to the bathroom. He comes back, I choose him (and others) to share, his hand is up for every follow up question, he finds more charming ways to annoy his neighbors when I neglect to call on him, and when looking through the textbook, he proceeds to raise his hand three times with questions about material in the book. "I though cactuses had spines, but this picture shows all these animals living in it. How can they do that?" I mean, these were great questions, and I sincerely love his enthusiasm, but this child is exhausting!

My team of teachers is amazing - I don't have any specific evidence, except absolutely everything they do.

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