I Did It Anyway

 

You know the moments when you do something you know is wrong but do it anyway? Yesterday I had three of those awful moments.

1. RED PEN

I’ve been observing in an English class for the last week. Yesterday the teacher looked at me, handed me a stack of papers complete with a red pen, and said, “Grade these.”

I stared at the red pen.

I believe in helping writers, not grading students. How can I compromise my values and write all over their papers with red pen?

I don’t know, but I did it anyway.

test22. GRAMMAR

I taught my first grammar lesson yesterday: adverb and adjectival phrases. Direct instruction. Here are examples; do them. Worksheet for homework.

I believe in growing writers, not the drill and kill of circling prepositions and drawing an area to the word it modifies. I was nervous. I had to ask my cooperating teacher a bunch of grammar questions in the middle of the lesson.

How can you teach grammar without context?

I don’t know, but I did it anyway.

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3. COMPLY

My friend who is also student teaching this semester called me last night needing advice. Her teacher is making her do direct instruction grammar lessons (sound familiar?).

The kids hate it.

They don’t get it.

They won’t participate.

She’s trying to mix it up and do different activities, but her cooperating teacher doesn’t like it and doesn’t think her methods are working. Looking to me for advice, I’m sure she was expecting something inspirational like don’t compromise your values. Or do what you know is right for the students.

But what did I tell her?

Do what the teacher says.

Comply.

Compromise.

My best advice for her was the worst advice I’ve ever given, but I did it anyway.

Good Advice for Hard Times

I feel dirty: writing on student work with red pen, teaching directed instruction grammar, and telling my dear friend to comply. I feel like Penny Kittle and Donalyn Miller would be so disappointed in me.

And you know what? I’m disappointed in me.

Student teaching is an awkward situation. I’m a guest in another teacher’s classroom. She has her own ways of doing things. She has her own philosophy of education. At the same time, I’m my own person. I have methods I’d like to finally try. I have theories I want to test.

But it’s not my classroom.

While I’m grateful for the experience, I want to be on my own. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m enjoying my student teaching experience. I like not having all of the pressure of teaching dumped on me at once. Phasing in has been a good experience.

But it’s awkward. I’m doing things I never thought I’d do as a teacher.

But I suppose I’m technically a student teacher, not a teacher.

 

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