Five minutes ago I finished commenting on the last of the papers for my half-semester of student teaching at a high school. Ninth graders. What a fucking nightmare. I now know what it's like to teach in a school where the teachers and administrators have no idea how to handle the students. No rules are enforced and there are no consequences for anything. Everything is punishment oriented, and the teachers grade more out of spite than intellectual accomplishment (or lack their of), but none of the punishments or harsh grading have any impact on student motivation. Which is not surprising since, if you ask the students themselves (which I did), they will tell you that punishments just make them spiteful and so the behave even worse. The solution would seem to be, then, to try to forge a different sort of relationship with the students and their parents.
In any case, I digress. The moral of my story is that my experience was bad. A lot of it was my own doing. I wildly overestimated my ability to influence an entrenched and fucked up school culture, and this immediately got me off on the wrong foot with a bunch of the students, and then I never fully recovered. At the same time, my cooperating teacher has basically no classroom management skills of her own, nor does she seem to do anything to make sure she's actually teaching anything worth knowing. So I wasn't receiving any support in regard to making effective lessons or in getting the class involved in their own learning.
Right now, I consider my student teaching experience to be a failure. I didn't get to put together a work sample that I feel good about, and mostly experienced what not to do, without getting much of a taste of things that work, which has basically left me feeling helpless and ineffective as a teacher.
The upside is that on Monday I start at a new school (this time a middle school) with a new cooperating teacher and a new batch of kids. I'm praying for a better experience. Not that I'm ready to quit on the teaching thing -- not by a long shot. It just might turn me into an asshole.
In other news:
Books I've read since January:
Fast Food Nation
World War Z
From the Earth to the Moon
And I will shortly be finished reading:
Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community
Choice Theory in the Classroom
And I started but don't feel like finishing:
And now the dating update:
I have been on a few dates. Mostly ones that don't go anywhere except for Mexican food. There is a girl from the past who is back on the scene, and I've decided I never should have broken up with her, but I'm confident she is not interested in restarting the old relationship. Live and learn, that's my motto!
Meanwhile, my Little Brother (of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island variety), has recently started talking to me about HIS girl troubles. This is both fantastic and hilarious. I won't get into detail because I can barely understand what he's talking about when he gets into it, but it's some seriously emo deep stuff that, in mid conversation will suddenly swing into a discussion of video games or Alien vs. Predator and then back to how this girl won't sit next to him on the bus or something. It's awesome.
Speaking of awesome: You should come see my awesome leather couch. It's so sexy. It's the sex couch. It's impossible to be within five feet of it and not take your clothes off.