Saturday, January 06, 2007

We are back in school for one week after Christmas break, a short week at that, only 4 days, but I feel like it was a month long week! My student teacher came for the first day Tuesday. She is only with me 2 hours of the day and of course, only observed this week, but the pressure of having her there really forces me to think through and always play my A game.

Giving up control of the class is proving to be more complex than I had anticipated. Reading her plans for starting to teach Monday, I am amazed at her thoroughness, the things she has planned, thought through, gleaned from being with the kids for 4 short days. Her plans are so thorough, so complex, compared to the things I do daily. I know it because it is all new to her, and she must teach and reteach the content in her mind before standing in front of them, but I am amazed at how much more work she must put into planning at this stage in her career than I put in a this point in mine. I can't wait to watch her teach next week!

From the moment she walked into the classroom, first last spring in a random observation, to yesterday, she acts like a true middle school teacher. When one of my boys came to class yesterday with enough makeup to go on stage, she simply commented, "Wow.. don't you look pretty!" with just the perfect amount of sarcasm, and slight grin, much like what I myself would have said. Her comments to kids as she walks around during work time are amazing, "That looks great, could you maybe think about this answer a bit more?" "What's going on over here gang? THink maybe you could settle down and be a bit more productive?" "If this is completed when you come to class tomorrow, you will have to answer to ME!"so comfortable, so natural, so teacher-like!!

It was a tough few days in some ways - there are so many absent kids, on extended vacations. Many coming back from being gone before break for a long time. The end of the marking period approaching, makeup work pouring in. My EI girl had a meltdown yesterday. New seating charts in all classes. A pretty typical week in 7th grade... but she took it all in stride, seeming totally unshook by anything that came down the hall.

I can't wait until next week... I know she will teach me tons!

On other fronts... in math class this week, we learned how to make box and whisker plots. It is so frustrating when students ASSUME they won't be able to do a new task. Lauren, one of my better students, said, "We did these last year and I SUCKED at them......." her voice trailing off into a kind a wavery panic tone. "Trust me Lauren... trust me.. these are easy. I will teach you! Trust me..." my own voice a bit wavery, I fear. But Lauren smiled that 7th grade smile, and said, "I do Mrs. George, I trust you!"

We did the 2 lessons from the text, the first on finding the mean, the upper and lower quartile, and outliers, and the second on constructing box and whiskers. Then we measured the heights of students, put those into an Excel document to sort, and made a box and whisker plot for the entire class, one for the boys, and one for the girls. Finally students are analyzing those 3 for some comparisons and contrasts.

All in all it was a great lesson... but I am always so shocked at the things they cannot easily do - like use a 25 foot measuring tape without it hitting the ground half a dozen times, type a column of numbers into Excel independently, and remember how to find the mean of a set of numbers after doing it 100 times.

ON the other hand, listening to their conversations as they work are amazing! "Wow... did you realize 50% of the girls are taller than 75% of the boys!" "What would these look like if we did them again in high school? Do you think we will ever be as tall as the girls?" "I didnt realize what a huge range of heights we had in our class!" "Look how many more girls than guys are in here! NO wonder our class mean is higher than 4th hours."

Math, learning, time on task.... **SIGH** sometimes, it does all come together :-)

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