Don’t Turn Your Back
While student teaching, I have to be evaluated five times. When I had my first evaluation, I have to admit that I was a little nervous. Of course, my supervisor decided to watch Senior English which meant the dreaded grammar lesson.
I’m not a Grammar Nazi and I only had one grammar course in college. Needless to say, grammar is not my strong point.
However, I was pleased that the lesson went as well as it did. I explained participles and participial phrases. I provided example sentences. We did hands-on activities. It was relatively awesome for a grammar lesson.
Because there were only two minutes before I taught the next class, my evaluator was brief when he talked to me. Much to my horror, the first thing he said to me was, “I hate whiteboards.”
The smile on my face disappeared. A mixture of sadness, disappointment, and defeat washed over me. What I thought had been a great lesson was apparently a flop to an objective third party member.
He explained that when I write on the whiteboard my back is turned to the class. Someone could stab somebody. Kids could text. Or talk (gasp!). He recommended using a pulldown, but I had no idea what a “pulldown” was. Turns out he was talking about printing the notes and then putting them on an overhead projector. Which we don’t have in the classroom.
While I agree that perhaps hand-writing notes and sample sentences isn’t the most efficient method, there are benefits to it:
- You move at the student’s pace when everyone is handwriting notes
- It’s simple – less cords and things to go wrong
- No worries about font size and lights down (students get sleepy)
For the next lesson, I tried hooking my computer up to the ceiling projector, but we had the wrong adapter. IT ordered the proper hookup for my computer, but for now it’s being shipped and is currently in no-where land.
So I shouldn’t turn my back to the class…I shouldn’t write on the whiteboard…I shouldn’t take my eyes off my students.
This week I saw a student write, “School is prison and the teachers are the wardens.” Are we as teachers acting like prison wardens? Do we treat students like convicts?
School should be a place for learning, growing, and maturing. Teachers must be cognizant of their actions and the environment of their classrooms. While we shouldn’t leave rooms unattended and unsupervised, I have to trust my students so they will trust me.
When my cord arrives, I’m going to try to type notes and project them onto the board. I truly think it will be more efficient and we’ll be able to cover more material if I’m not always stopping to erase the board. Plus, spell check. Yes. Point taken.
But I’m not afraid that my students will be naughty behind my back. After all, the seniors will be done with school in a few months. Will their supervisors at work always be over their shoulder, ensuring they are not stabbing someone or texting? Probably not.
Despite being shocked at his blunt feedback, I received all good marks on my formal write-up. I guess it was a good lesson after all.