Monday, February 29, 2016

Teaching Stories

So, let's talk about teaching.

We're halfway through the third quarter, and my seniors are in the midst of Oedipus Rex. I'm not convinced I'll teach Sophocles again; I haven't clicked with any particular novel or literary genre. (I prefer teaching writing to teaching literature.) I've incorporated various types of assignments, including discussions, character analyses, study guides, short essays, crossword puzzles and word finds, movie guides, non-fiction web searches, etc. At the moment we've been focusing a lot on character analyses and study guides, but we've done all the previously listed activities in this particular unit and throughout the year. A student told me ("no offense") that I'm "overdoing the character analyses." We have done four within the past several weeks, but you'd think the play we're reading has hundreds of characters. Fortunately, this is the last round. Moar torture!

Today I asked one student to leave the class for the second time this quarter because he simply will not stop texting, and when I call him on it, he accuses me of being unfair, of singling him out, of not equally being on top of other students, or being "uneven" in my distribution of punishment. It's true that I do ask him repeatedly to put the phone away, more so than I ask other students, but this is after months' worth of asking him to put the phone away, his not doing his assignments, talking to both his assistant principal and his counselor, talking to him in multiple ways at many points throughout the year about his homework completion, etc. He doesn't see me talk to other students because from the moment he walks into my classroom (late - if he comes), he only ever stops texting when I ask him to stop, which is only when I'm standing over him. The other students actually do their work.

The day did start on a good note: One of my favorites students is an aide (filing, running errands, dropping off or picking up copies - grunt work). I don't remember how we got to talking about this today, but he said, "I'm not a cow. If anything, I'm a moose." I've been giggling about this all day. Whenever I get frustrated with some students (fortunately it's rare that I encounter students I dislike), I think about the students who are just nice.

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