Mississippi...

Monday, July 25, 2005

Free Orange Juice

I finally explored the community I will be staying in for the next two years. Keila, thankfully accompanied me on the voyage to sign my lease (yikes!) and see a little of Clarksdale. Honestly, the first time I visited Clarksdale, I didn't get a bad feeling--but I didn't really get a great feeling either. But this time, it felt good, and I could really see myself living and working there. Maybe the newness is starting to wear off or something I don't know.

I signed the lease, and took a short tour of my house with my video camera for everyone to see "my" house. I narrated the film in french just for my fiancé, and I will try to post it on my blog when I take Robbie's advanced blogging class. I really am happy with my house. I want to make it a relaxing getaway-- okay a getaway conveniently located near my school but whatever. The backyard is huge, and I can have a dog!

The claim to fame in Clarksdale is Morgan Freeman's club "Ground Zero." A good sturdy name for a club that has writing all over the walls. Keila and I happened upon it as I took a wrong turn. We were trying to look for a furniture shop (I just wanted to know how much new furniture actually costs...). Anyway, we see this old building at the end of the street. The railroad tracks, at one point ran through that section of town-- but those days are long gone. Keila saw all these couches sitting on this old building (at this point not labeled "Ground Zero") and told me to ask the man standing on the porch how much they were. She hollered at the guy, "How much are those couches?" He looked at us in pure shock-- "these couches?" And then he said that we can have them for free if we want them. I pull the car up closer, and he was like, "Which one do you want?" We told him the green one. He started acting real suspicious and said, "Come get a closer look." I got out of the car and walked up the steps. Oh shit-- crack house couches-- seriously-- no upholstery left in the cushions whatsoever. He laughed at us asked why we needed couches. I explained that I am moving to Clarksdale. As always, I got the "why" question. He was very excited about Mississippi Teacher Corps and then asked us if we wanted to be on TV, interviewed Keila and I when the TV crew arrived and gave us free orange juice. Tres bizarre!

A few things I don't want to forget...

I have so many ideas running around in my head I have to write them down somewhere. So I am going to use this weird blog forum to help remind me half-way thru the school year all the stuff I wanted to do. Most of these ideas come from this summer and things I have been thinking of since I decided to "become" a teacher.

1) Summer Camps. I don't know get kids to go to different camps. Give them rides if need be-- would be great if that could be out of state. Help with application. Get posters for classroom-- and ENCOURAGE! Remember Sunflower Freedom project... Some websites I found:

http://www.hiddenvilla.org/Assets/Scholar.htm

http://engineering.lssu.edu/summer_in/

http://www.jhu.edu/~gifted/

2) Field Trips. Anywhere!

3) After school tutoring-- maybe get high schoolers involved in the middle school? How to make it work? Must provide food...

4) Video projects. Equipment??? Software??? Maybe PSA's or self portrait's.
Start a video club? Would kids be into to it? Funding?

5) Do a class website. Have students work as a class to design separate or links pages in groups.

6)Incorporate group work as much as possible and teach "group" skills.

7)Develop critical thinking skills...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Video 7/13/05

I should preface this entire blog with a confession. I do not like to be video-taped and I was so nervous the day of this lesson. After four days of being critiqued continuously, I kept thinking of all the things people were going to say after my lesson-- during my lesson. I feel like I have much less confidence in myself after this experience-- which really stinks because I have improved since my first lesson and I have learned so very much. Anyway, the good news about critiquing a horrible lesson is that I have a lot of suggestions for myself.

Suggestion #1 Time management-- Never forget your notes that you spent three hours preparing the night before. You will never be able to keep track of everything. Gone are the days of college presentations within a controlled environment-- where you can speak with some (relative) authority based on class readings. So much is going on these days (and will triple in the fall) that writing ideas and notes down will be the only way to keep me sane. Furthermore, overheads are my best friend! And so are students who can be scribes! Spending even two minutes on writing on the board is a waste of everyone's time (not to mention the back turned to classroom unknown classroom management and wiggly butt phenomenon).

Suggestion #2 Have the time on your watch match the time of your school and classroom clock. Very important. I went over on time (even though when I watched the tape-- my lesson went for 38 min and I could have done a closure and saved myself a lot of heartache). Although I was proud of my time estimates, I knew that something was wrong when I had to have them start on their homework assignment. Since day one, for no apparent reason, I know how much time an activity is going to take. Thanks to my days as a counselor at a treatment center for kids who would have died without a schedule! Nonetheless, budget at least 5 min for closure and spend some classroom money on a timer. Time is of the essence...

Suggestion #3 When trying to incorporate history and literature, start from the beginning. To be honest, I envisioned my class spending a day or two in the library looking at Jim Crow and the Great Depression. But if I do go the lecture route, I think finding an age appropriate textbook will be far better organized and thorough than I-- at least for a beginning lesson.

Suggestion #4 Whoever is the room-- don't get flustered about speaking and hurried about writing on the board. This is a particular weakness of mine. If I am nervous, my words come out in random intervals and I feel as if my mouth and mind are not even remotely connected. There are times when I just have to shut external factors (video camera, assessor, peers, future negative comments, etc)out of my mind and just teach. Yes, I made a few careless errors. When I think about these mistakes in a real classroom (subtracting the ones made because of external factors) I do not really have very many suggestions for myself. Yes, I made mistakes-- but I am not perfect and I am sure in the future I will continue to make mistakes. Hopefully, I'll catch them before my students (since they will be 12 years old and not graduate students). But if I don't, my students will at least gain some confidence and know that I am human.