September 2009


This week is going to be an incredibly crazy week. Starting tonight, I have events through Tuesday night which will take a significant amount of my time, and I have lounge duty this week (meaning that I’m responsible for bringing snacks for coworkers and keeping the lounge clean all week). On Thursday, my fall evaluation period begins, and so I have to work out some time to 1) have a pre-evaluation chat (I think that’s what she wants) and 2) set up an observation time (prediction: it will not be during my junior classes). And there are further school events that will complicate matters further near the end of the week, which is very inopportune given that for at least one class I am already struggling to fit everything in that I want to do before the end of the quarter (which is three weeks away). I’m trying to plan as best I can to make this week work without too many issues, but, like so many things with teaching, it’s a juggling act.

It’s possible that I may not be able to blog very much at all consequently, so don’t be surprised if I’m absent for a few days. (Not that anyone will likely be holding their breath, so to speak…) We’ll have to see how things go.

Tonight, I’ve been grading college application essays that I received from students yesterday, and I’ve noticed a pattern that I’ve encountered before during student teaching, so I have to say something about it. If you are a student in an English or writing course, I suggest you read closely.

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In the midst of these first-year struggles (the sort of growing pains that I think most teachers have to deal with), I have learned to look wherever I can for little celebrations. It’s sometimes difficult, but I can find them. Today’s was especially great for me.

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Randomly, I happened to see a link come in through my WordPress admin panel, and I followed a short trail to find out that I got some recognition for my blogging from Scholastic Instructor. Docere Est Discere was apparently selected as the “Best Student Teacher Blog” for the September issue. I am absolutely thrilled to get that kind of recognition, especially in words like this:

Why We Love It: From tips for up-and-coming student teachers to his own reflections on his process, Mr. B. reminds us how far we have come. Perfect for those days when we’re feeling just a bit jaded.

How could I not be motivated to write about my teaching experiences with that kind of praise?

Thanks, Scholastic!

It has been one of those weeks for me: an utterly soul-crushing experience that has made me lose a lot of self-confidence in my abilities and what I am doing. I can’t say that the thought of giving up has entered my mind, but I have had doubts about how good a teacher I am. Not a good week at all in that regard.

But there are some things that can help make things better. For me today, it was colleagues who made me laugh. A simple thing, really, but laughter is so powerful, and even the gloomiest outlook can be softened by it.

Words I try to live by: When I can laugh, it’s a good day.

This is not a good week for me when it comes to making assumptions.

First, there was my encounter with bigotry and dealing with that, and then, when I thought I had a great solution, there was this: Several of my students decided to be wiseacres (putting it nicely) and asked me what temperature I was today. It was clear that my strategy hadn’t worked except in that one case (and even then it was probably mostly because of how I responded to them, not because of the technique itself) and that it wouldn’t work again.

I guess that proves that “diamonds” are not, in fact, forever.

One of my students writing a college application essay about wanting to be a teacher (yes, I have one) used this quote:

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.

— John Cotton Dana

It’s so great that to see my motto so widely accepted.

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