Student Teaching…Ovah

So it’s done.

I walked out of Spencerport on Friday (no one told me that Thursday could have been my last day) and I was a total mess. I cried most of the way to my car. It wasn’t so much about missing my kids, or the class. I think it was more to do with where I was in December of ’07 and how far I have come. I didn’t think back then that I would have come this far, this fast and be one step away from doing with my life all the things I have hoped I could and would.

So I am done with the teaching peace, now comes the “find a job” piece, and all the complications that go along with it.

One nice thing is that I am back at my job that has me at my desk a lot more, which means more time for writing.

What has been on my mind, kind of floating around back there is the Mess in the Gulf

I have pleanty to say about this, but I think I have been avoiding talking or writing about it because part of me hopes it is some type of bad dream that will just go away if I ignore it.

anyways, welcome back me.


Student Teaching

My Head…Your Wall

Well, the student teaching thing is winding down.

I am less than three weeks away from being done with little social experiment.
It has gone faster than I could have imagined. I have measured the time in Avi’s growth. The last 12 weeks have flown by, as I assume the next three will.
My advisor is coming out to see me “work my magic” (his words) this week, for the last time.
As this thing winds down, I have been thinking more and more about what comes next in my life.
I return to Hillside, I return to getting paid, and I start to figure out what I have to do in order to get hired to teach. It is a scary proposition.
I am unsure of my ability to do this, I really am.
I worry that I have lost so much time with Avi. I know she will never know the difference, that I am there and she sees me, but I know that I have missed time with her.
So as this thing comes to an end, and I begin the next phase in this process, I am excited and scared and unsure.
It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to


As part of my student teaching seminar, we are asked to write reflections about our experiences. I will have more to share in this space regarding what I have encountered when time and energy permit. For now, I would like to share my most recent reflection, where we were asked to write about a student who has had an impact on us, either good or bad. This is what I had to say:

There is a line at the film “The Devil’s Own” starring Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford, where Brad Pitt’s character is telling his father figure Ford that their story was always going to have bad ending. Pitt, who is Irish and a member of the IRA tells Ford “Don’t look for a happy ending. It’s not an American story. It’s an Irish one.” What Pitt’s character is saying is that we want so desperately for every story to have the miracle ending that we as Americans have come to expect, that we forget that so often in life, there are no happy endings. For people all over the world, they spend their whole lives, and then die, waiting for that miracle ending. In literature it is called Deus ex Machina, or “God from the machine” where no matter how desperate the situation, things will find a way of working out for the protagonist. I have made this mistake when working with my students at Hillside prior to starting my student teaching. Sometimes there are no happy endings. After talking with a student and a parent about the issues that are going on in the home, it is my expectation that from week to week, day to day, things will begin to get better. The harsh truth however is that sometimes things don’t get better. Sometimes a young person who is struggling against all that they are dealing with in their lives, will simply continue to struggle.

Sometimes, even though we are in America, the stories don’t have a happy ending. I would like to sit and write about my student who in three weeks I have turned from an underachieving problem student, into a social studies whiz-kid (it’s not as if I don’t have a few of them) but the harsh and brutal reality is that this is by and large not an American story. The students that I have spent the last month plus working with will go on after they are done with me, and I them. Some of them will succeed in both school and life, and some of them wont. The hardest part is that there is shockingly little that I can do to alter that course. I am not so naïve to think that in seven weeks I could alter the course of all 45 or so student’s lives. But I do also realize the impact I am having, if only for an hour and a half five days a week for a month and a half. Do I have students who have made an impression on me? Do I have students who I will remember long after they have forgotten about me? Of course I do. I far under estimated the impact that student teaching was going to have on me as a professional and as a person. Having worked in my school for two years, I arrogantly believed that I knew more about this than I did. This has been the single greatest learning experience of my life, and I say that knowing full well that I have two weeks left where I am now, and seven weeks at my next placement.

I am sorry for the negative tone to this, the ironic thing is, I write this after having what has been my most successful week here. You asked me to write about a student who has made an impression on me, and I could easily have filled these few short pages with stories about this young person or that, who has surprised me in a good way or a bad. I could talk about the young lady who has shocked me day in and day out with her ability to think at a higher level. Or the young man who is so confident in his abilities in social studies, but is so close every day to exploding on me that I have had to navigate a mine field with him. I could have written 10 pages on each and every one of them. But it would not have been enough. Instead, let me take these pages to talk about the group as a whole. They are wonderful, awful people, just like all of us, who for the most part are doing the best with what they have, and what they have been taught. I cannot move heaven and earth in 7 weeks, but I can alter the course of a young person’s life, even if just slightly. Maybe after all is said and done, it will be an American story after all.

One Week Down

So I am sitting at my (Mr. Savino’s) desk having just finished my first week.

I have taught every class, beginning first thing Monday morning. I didn’t really have a chance to be nervous, as I have taken over right from the beginning.

I have slowly been taking over additional responsibilities such as recording attendance, handling behavior issues and calling parents. So far, I guess so good.

We have, in one week gone from the basics of Geography up to the French and Indian War (“Mr. Gilmore, why do they call it the French and Indian War if the French were not fighting the Indians”, Me-“good friggen question”)

I think we have done a good job hitting on the key historical points. I have also been sure to include those historical tidbits that I think are interesting, such as the Southern accent deriving from a Scotch-Irish dialect.

I am in no way a Master Teacher (like Yoda) at this point. But I think I do have a talent for this stuff.

And I included the picture from “The Patriod”, because as much as I love showing film clips in class (Amistad, Last of the Mohicans, and School House Rocks already this week) I refuse to show anything as blatantly historically inaccurate as that festering pile of crap.

Student Teaching-Day 1

First day of student teaching. All in all it went well. There are things I would do differently, things I wouldn’t do at all, and things I would do the same. It was not ground-breaking, Earth shattering teaching in anyway. But no one died, and I am heading back tomorrow, so I think those are all positives.

We did introductions and Geography basics. Not the most interesting topic, but I think the kids got something out of it. I am teaching two blocks, one with 10-12 10th graders who I know, and one with 30 9th graders where I know about half of them.

1st block is going to be nice in preperation for 2nd.

At the end of class I showed a quick clip from “Last of the Mohicans” because we are going to be starting pre-colonial American stuff later this week. This is one of my favorite scenes ever:

Which has to go down as one of the best Nike commercials of all time.

I love that they borrowed the music from this, the first time I saw this commercial I went nuts.

Why I Am

Trying to get the flash player working on my “fixed” laptop, and needed to watch some Youtube videos to make sure I did it right.

Proctoring then grading the U.S. History Regents exam today. I almost feel like a real teacher.

First morning I have woken up this week feeling like I actually slept.

Student Teaching

Half a week into sort of student teaching, I would have some observations, if I had done more than plan and hang out to this point.

Monday will be a completely different story as I pick of the reins and run with two sections of U.S. History.

As Sid the Sloth says, this is either going to be really good, or really bad.

Just watched the State of the Union Address with D, and I come away feeling both positive and negative about it.

I liked the tone at the end. We will see where this all goes.

Looking forward to the Super Bowl. K.C. was very fun, and the wedding was beautiful.