Monday, June 27, 2005

Summer School: Not Just a Great Mark Harmon Movie

Entering the last week of summer school (though many of my MTC colleagues are already finished), I am surprised by how much I care about the students I am working with. I'm not surprised that I care about my students, but I did not realize I would become this invested in summer school students who I only worked with for a month.

We had our big project due today, and of the six students in my small group, four handed them in on time. I felt like the shepherd in the Bible parable who had lost his sheep. Rather than rejoicing that four students had turned in great projects, I worried about my two stragglers who will lose ten points each day the project is late. I question my teaching, and wonder if I should have been harder on them during this process to ensure they finished on time. The other part of me understands these students must learn responsibility, and that is a skill that largely must be learned from personal experience. In the fall, I will not take for granted that my students will get work done on their own schedule. Instead, I will make many due dates for a large project, to ensure no student falls behind. This was the single most important lesson I learned in summer school.

Another important lesson I learned was the need for consistency in a classroom. I am looking forward to having my own classroom, with my own procedures, rules, and routines set up. I enjoyed working with my MTC colleagues, but their presence was distracting at times to the students. During one lesson, I was interupted several times by one of my colleagues who wanted to make a correction on what I felt was a minor point. Also, planning for a class is complicated when you must worry about what your fellow teachers will be teaching. Consistency is lost in this process, and consistency is necessary to a successful classroom.

I learned by watching the strengths and weaknesses of my fellow MTC teachers. Mr. Molina's humor, Ms. Savage's no-nonsense approach, and Mr. Heston's caring attitude are all characteristics I would do well to copy. I hope I was helpful to them by modelling confidence and control, and I do believe we all learned together and worked to hone our craft.

The upcoming fall is going to be a million times more challenging than summer school. Delta schools have much greater problems than Lafayette High, and I understand that this year will be a trying time. I am confident, however, that I will be able to make a huge difference in the lives of my students. I care very much about my summer school students, and I believe my investment in my students at Simmons High will be even greater. I have high expectations of my students, but I am able to do this only because I place such high expectations on my self. Summer school gave me some experience working with high schoolers, and I experienced both successes and failures. I know that I will learn a lot from both, and will be a stronger teacher because of my time at Lafayette this summer.

1 Comments:

Blogger A. Monroe said...

Joel,
Great reflection. I know your positive attitude and high expectations will lead to a successful first year at Simmons.

7:48 PM  

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