A blog about all things pertaining to Trent Lott, Leadership and Blogs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

ready or not

Yesterday I received a letter sent from my principal to all the People's Middle School staff members. In addition to the information pertaining to the upcoming orientation and professional development week, the letter also implored, advised or warned us to "get ready ... get ready ... get ready!" The reason being that we must all be ready to "hit the ground running". One one hand, I am concerned that no amount of preparation will allow me to properly "get ready" for what is coming. I read the letter with no small amount of concern and trepidation. My consolation is this: I will hit the ground running, as anyone landing on a treadmill will immediately discover. I'm excited for this, that in another week, I will be literally swept along a course with no ability to slow down. This is a good thing, as long as I can keep my hands on the steering wheel. Maybe the best way to think about the coming year is as something similar to the movie speed. Can't slow down, just try your best to keep control and not to crash into anything along the way.
In other news, living in Mississippi has exceeded my expecations in nearly every regard. I came here with many prejudices about the southern folk, the southern lifestyle and the average summer temperature. The biggest surprise for me has been the discovery that I don't mind the heat, not even during yesterday's heat warning. And the people ... I cannot say that I approve of the predominant beliefs and habits practiced in this part of the country, but I am somewhat reconciled. I arrived here as a smug northern liberal, and perhaps I still am. What has changed is that I think I'm beginning to understand the south, and why the south is what it is. I have many friends back home who preach liberal values and condemn this part of the country without ever bothering to consider that this does more harm. Worldly people that vacation in argentina and southern france and can claim a diverse and broad education know very little about the second half of their own country. Perhaps this will never change, but I cant help but think that perhaps the democrats would have run their last presidential campaign a bit different if they undrestood this region a bit better, and if they had done this it might be a different country today.
Forget it, the point is not ideas and movements and politics right now. I've got some kids coming and we've got a lot of numbers to crunch.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Team Teaching Video

Watching myself on tape this second time around wasn't nearly as painful as the first. Perhaps this sounds a bit naive considering that I was teaching to a bunch of graduate students instead of rowdy sixth graders, but I was surprised at how much better my lesson looked. It's pretty amazing, but I didn't seem to be quite the green teaching youngster from the days of ole' last month. I spoke clearly, looked very relaxed, had good body language with no nervous ticks, and I sort of came across as a semi-legitimate teacher.
Of course there are many things that require additional work. Watching the video impressed upon me the effect of turning one's back to the students while writing on the board. I was blessed with a small group of well behaved twenty somethings for students, but this would certainly be suicide with anything else. I'm trying to work at this, but my penmanship is bad enough as it is, and writing on the board while standing sideways is an art I still have yet to master.
I made jokes and smiled a lot. This is who I am and I can't help this, but I hope it won't become a problem come fall. I don't think I could be an effective teacher if I defied my own personality traits, but I still have to work on toughening up a bit before I hit the classroom.
Watching the video also leads me to grow concerned that many of the strategies I've evolved for dealing with 5 of my peers will be entirely useless in the classroom. We've tried to make this as realistic as possible, and I am greatly indebted to my peers for their attempts to mimic sixth grade behavior problems. On the other hand, I am aware that I will encounter significant difficulties trying to manage the same excercises using the transparencies and student participation in a real setting. I am somwhat worried that in the fall I will find out that I need a comprehensive overhaul of my lesson strategies to suit the reality of a sixth grade classroom.
Concerns aside, I feel much more confident after completing this course and watching myself on film. I feel more like a real teacher now and I think that to some degree I am.
(ominous background voice: "so you think you're a real teacher now ... just you wait ...)