Practicum Journal Day 2 — What to Do When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing

September 12

Agenda

Mr. Rudan always puts the day’s agenda on the board in the centre of the room so that students are aware of the daily plan: what should they open to when they sit down; what is the end goal for the day; and how do we get from a → n + 1. Similarly, but different, I’ve used snappy headlines here, for reader interest.

1) Dissemination, Distribution, Delegation

2) Respect before Rapport

3) Classroom Contingency

Dissemination, Distribution, Delegation

First period, first day teaching and Kiefer and I were asked to put students into groups and delegate topics for an upcoming group project in CIA4U. The Grade 12s went quietly enough with the help of Tim’s index cards. The card stack contains a 4×6” manifestation of each student (i.e. their name and the answer to 5 general questions like “favourite food” and “favourite colour”). Thus without knowing any names in the class, Kiefer and I could easily sort into groups, and call on, the students when necessary.

Step 2: Disseminate Tim’s instructions, which were fairly simple: Start your project.

The project (briefly, because it is not my secret to divulge):

-read the textbook pages corresponding to your Economist/Economic Philosopher

-summarize his or her main ideas

-answer the provided questions

-prepare a 5 minute presentation; points for creativity will be awarded

We then, of course, distributed the assignments and waited for questions. Distribution here, (along with delegation, actually) are more closely linked to our behaviour as Teachers (not Teacher Candidates) on this particular occasion. Kiefer and I were forced to decide how and when to circulate, provide assistance, answer questions individually, announce answers more generally &c. All things told, not the most difficult, except that I’d never heard of any of the “economists” other than Marx, and so had to read over the information at the same time as the students and “fake it ‘till I made it” as the saying goes.

The Grade 10s were given an individual assignment — another exercise in map labelling and colouring — which I won’t describe in much detail here, to save space.

Respect before Rapport

My biggest concern (i.e. “fear”) in the grade 10 applied History class (“CHC2P” or “History” or “Grade 10s” used interchangeably from here forward) was commanding a certain amount of respect without having established any rapport with the students. In fact, “command” is a rather ostentatious word choice considering my Usurper-Teacher status. Basic concerns become major logistical and/or administrative problems:

How would I react to washroom requests?

Can they work with partners (I don’t see why they’d want to, necessarily)?

How much talking is too much talking?

It’s just after lunch: can they get up from their seats to burn some energy? Will the other students “smell blood” as they say, if I allow them to move around?

Admittedly, a relatively simple task like colouring kept the Grade 10s relatively calm and complacent. Likewise, the “free” period to work and talk with their neighbours seemed a welcome surprise as the students struggled to shake off the September blues. Moreover, FHCI brought in Ms. Pain (yes, “Pain,” not “Payne”) to supervise, but, on Tim’s orders, Kiefer and I were predominantly in charge.

The students listened…until about 10 minutes remained and they began to clean up the colouring supplies.

Boy, that sounds ominous, eh?

Nothing bad actually happened, but I was quickly exposed to the attention limits of students in this particular class. So I took a mental note:

Important to remember when teaching teenagers:
75 minutes is way too long

Classroom Contingency

One almost-emergency that wasn’t actually an emergency:

The textbook pages listed on the CIA4U assignment page didn’t correspond correctly with the Understanding Economics textbook provided to the students. Luckily, Kiefer remembered that there was a second Econ textbook on Tim’s desk. And whaddya know? The page numbers matched up. So, we pondered, how can an entire class share one textbook?

Answer: There were more textbooks in the locked cupboard to which, thankfully, we were left a key. (Note: before leaving his keys, Tim said, “You probably won’t need these, unless for some reason you want to get into the dusty old book cupboard.” Seriously, I couldn’t make that up if I tried…well, maybe I could, but that’s beside the point).

Anyway, Crisis #2 averted (Are you keeping track?). We passed out the textbooks to the class. Tim’s emphasis on a (mostly) homework free class meant that they could easily use the books in class without worrying about sharing with the second section of CIA4U.

That said, one more mental note to close out today’s observations:

Students never hear instructions the first time. Always repeat at least 3x: before 
distribution, after distribution, and in the middle of work periods. e.g. If you 
request that students DO NOT take home the textbook, at least one in every class will 
put said textbook in xer backpack anyway.

–MG

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