Week 1 Down (Or Week 1 All Over Again)

 

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I can’t believe it, but week one of institute is in the books. At first each day felt super slow, but then midway through the week we started hurtling toward the finish. We’ve had workshops on lesson planning, diversity, “vision-building,” rule-setting, classroom management and more, but starting tomorrow we will have to take that week of learning and put it into practice. It’s odd, just as we have gotten used to the pace of the days here, everything is about to change. It’s almost like we are starting over again. We’ll teach from 8-1 or so, and then we will have workshops after that, and come back to the dorm and lesson plan after that. Everyone here is always talking about stressful all-nighters; I haven’t experienced that at all, but maybe Monday is when things start to get challenging to that degree. 

That hardest thing for me right now is lesson-planning. Every single one of our lessons has to have a script for what the teacher is going to say, and a column parallel to that with the anticipated student response. I have never done anything like that for lesson-planning, and it is taking a lot of getting used to on top of not being sure about exactly how to teach math. I guess that’s the upside, though; forcing me to write a script makes me think harder about how I am going to present every single problem and operation, rather than leaving it up to chance in the classroom. 

We met our faculty advisor, Ms. Neil, on Friday. She has been a teacher for eleven years. She emphasized one thing, and it’s the same thing our workshop instructors have been emphasizing: consistency. Specifically, consistency when it comes to classroom management. That might be one of our biggest challenges since working in a group of four means each teacher will have to be on exactly the same page about the ways we discipline and reward. If one of us is doing something different, it could undermine all of us. I’m interested to see how co-teaching is going to go. 

I asked Ms. Neil what her first year teaching was like. “Hell,” she replied. Is that scary to hear? Sure. But I can also see that Ms. Neil is a great teacher. Our summer school principal came around while we were talking to her and said she’s amazing at questioning, differentiation, classroom management. Even though “hell” is a scary word, it’s comforting to know that Ms. Neil was there, and now she’s here. I’m not expecting to be great right away, but I have to tell myself I can get to great. In fact, they are big on mantras here at institute. Maybe I’ll make that my personal mantra: Get to great. 

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