Tuesday, September 19, 2006

10 "Ah- HAAS" in one day?

Teaching is a series of “ahh haas”. Before I go any further I should explain what I mean. “Ah haas” are those moments when we sit back and either literally say “ah haa” or we begin to realize why we went into this vocation.

I have many examples so far this year; here I am only going to run through September 19, 2006.

I was invited into a 10th grade English class taught by Ms. Shih. I was so impressed with a side conversation I overheard between student upon my entry about how the story and pointless traditions depicted in Shirley Jackson’s “Lottery” were so like the society described in the Lois Lowry book “The Giver”. (AH HAA #1) The conversation was not prompted by the teacher (AH HAA #2) and actually probably seen as side banter. I was so impressed by the students.

As the class proceeded Ms Shih allowed me to be the co-mayor of the town and make a speech to set up the moral dilemma the class was to debate. Ms Shih upon advice from Ms Brody (AH HAA #3) step up a clear protocol for the class debate with a speaker list. Then Myrima a D75 para helped a student with presenting his argument. at one point when she thought he was struggling and offer to help He turned to her and said, ”No” I’ll let you know when I need help.” The class was impressed with his fortitude. (AH HAA #4)

At the conclusion of the class students who had taken a current events class two years previous came up to me and said how much they loved the format and how much they learned from my co-taught class two years ago. (AH HAA #5)

This was only the beginning of the “ah-has”, Mayo sat in on my class and shared her perspective with me one the presentation skill of the various groups. The principal also happened to pop in during this period. Our classrooms really are open. (AH HAA #6)

During our lunch teachers conversed over the value of public education because of a controversy highlighted in a NY Times article. (AH HAA #7) I placed a phone call to a student who was cutting my class, and anticdotals were recorded in a grade level book.

During passing I overheard students talking about what had occurred during my senior gov’t and economics class. (AH HAA #8)

I was most impressed that a senior teacher can to me and shared what their plans were for their class this year. She looked excited to share her ideas and I was flattered she showed me. (AH HAA #9) I was really mostly shocked. Teachers do not burnout in my school they seem to be re-inspired.

The last bit of stimulus today can from a new teacher whom flattered me quite profoundly when she asked if I ever considered creating a ThinkQuest website. She offered to work with me in creating the site. I’ve been teaching for 11 years and she sees me not as a burnout cynical educator, but someone who looks for the next challenge professionally. (AH HAA #10)

The only downer for the day seemed to be a parent phone call I received regarding her uneasiness with our policy of non-tracking students, and another parent’s concern about the split between communities and the ethic diversity of the school. I understand why the parents are shocked at our schools philosophy. Teachers and even administrators who have been here for four years have a tough time understanding the philosophy at times. How can we expect parents to “buy in” to the schools valued principles three weeks into their freshmen year?

So let’s sum up the AH HAAS!

  1. Impressed by the level of conversation amongst the students
  2. The students are truly self motivated
  3. Teachers sharing best practices
  4. D75 being fully included in a 10th grade English class
  5. Students making connections between protocols
  6. Open classrooms
  7. Lunchroom conversations about educational philosophy
  8. Students (even seniors) are still curious about the world
  9. Excitement levels are high among all levels of experienced teachers
  10. Being seen as someone who is still very concerned feels good.


Ms.Shih said...

Ah haaa.... It was great having you in class, Co mayor, come visit anytime!

Superfly said...

If only all days could be like this... (*Sigh*)