1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Monday, September 28, 2015

Substitute Teaching: Entry #2

Today I was at a small school that reminded me of Mapleton Early College in Denver. A very, very different teaching and learning environment than Thursday and Friday of last week. The commonality? One can be "present" despite the different needs of the students. I only one or two inquiries about the text itself (Unbroken) but I kept myself open and available.

I proposed that work on the text together as a class but they preferred to work on their own (not once, but three discrete classes). Well, maybe next time...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Substitute Teaching: Entry #1

I'm at roughly the two week point as a substitute teacher in three nearby school districts and it has been an adventure. I've been quite fortunate in that I've been able to (a) work every day I've wanted to, and (b) have good choices with regard to the assignments.

Based on my experiences to date, I have to say that a bit of my pessimism about the fate/future of Western culture/civilization is being rolled back.

Take the foundational document, er, film, The Sandlot. I made reference to it at one of those periodic moments of exasperation and several students replied, "I love that movie." Warm. Fuzzy.

More seriously, I'm finding that students take an interest in what they're studying, and, when conditions are really good (there's the Mystery of Teaching, namely, what creates or allows for these conditions to emerge? Patent that and send the bill to Bill and Melinda or that facebook fool), we engage in real dialogue.

And despite the negative chatter I read about Common Core, kids are reading actual literature and historical texts, not merely IKEA how to assemble instructions (as "real world" as that kind of learning might be -- but is there really a world-wide shortage of those little Swedish Gnomes who make that furniture? I doubt it)! Examples of texts I've read with students recently:

  • Hamlet
  • Jonathan Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"
  • Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird 
Yes, real literature, real language real transmission of a tradition.