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Posts Tagged ‘examples’

A more stable equilibrium

October 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Today felt a little odd.  I still feel all of the things I did yesterday – strongly and fully – but with a little less vulnerability.  That little change makes all the difference between crying most of the day and generally feeling okay.  Of course, I did a lot to try to make today better.  First, I completely changed the kids’ carpet spots. We have a big meeting area and they’d taken to lounging around in it, falling backwards, rolling sideways, and generally flopping about in ways that stopped them and the kids around them from listening.  My solution to this, perhaps counter-intuitively, was to squash them together.  I made very tightly-spaced Xs on the carpet in masking tape, then outlined the whole thing in tape lines.  The new spots mean they’re almost touching people anytime they’re sitting down…but not if they sit correctly.  Behavior was still an issue today, but oddly the confined space actually did reduce the problems.  I was also much, much harder on my two attention-seeking students and they were both relatively problem-free all morning.  The afternoon…not so much.  One of the girls comes back hyped up crazy from lunch every day.  The entire whole group math time is spent with her saying “Look!  Look!” and pointing at other children, or loudly calling out the answer no matter whose name I’ve called.  “15 after!  15 after!” rings in my ears each afternoon as she yells out where I should put the number 16.

Also today, and very unexpectedly, the literacy specialist who works with me (and with all new teachers to the school) told me, unprompted and with no knowledge of my tears, that I’m doing a great job.   I feel like I’m barely holding it together, especially in the lessons she sees me teach, so it was nice to hear that she thinks I’m doing okay.

And finally, I wrote a nice note back to Saturday’s boy and he responded in kind today, saying that I should consider myself included in any of the group outings he’s part of.  It’s not a relationship, but it might lead to friends, and friends are a really good thing to have.

In the end, today didn’t exactly feel like a good day, but it did feel a lot better than yesterday.  Of course, since yesterday is one of the lowest ponts I can ever remember hitting, I guess almost any day would have been better…

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Six-year-olds can’t tell time

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Today I remembered that six-year-olds can’t tell time  and that I can totally use that against them.  Tired of asking the class to stand up, line up, or go to their tables and having them meander, divert or ignore, I decided to spend most of our morning meeting practicing standing up on cue, sitting down on cue, and going to our tables on cue.  The first time we practiced standing up they were simply awful at it.  Three kids remained sitting until I specifically called them by name, while one kid wandered away.  By the time they were all standing I was exasperated.  Hands on hips, I decided to make things up: “That took at least 37 seconds!” I exclaimed.  “We should be able to do it in 15 seconds.  I think we need to try again.  Do you think we can get down to 15 seconds this time?”  A chorus of six-year-old voices yelled “YES!”  So they sat down and we practiced standing up again.  “Hmm…a little better,” I said, “we got down to 22 seconds.  But I think you can do it faster, don’t you?”  And so we went, up and down, up and down, enthusiastically racing against the pretend clock.

At no point in this exchange did I actually time them.  Safe in the knowledge that they have no concept of time, I made up whatever numbers I thought would motivate them.  And it worked.  They stayed fully engaged, racing against the times I called out as they practiced moving around our room.

I know some teachers say they love upper elementary school students because you can do so much more with them, but I don’t think anything beats the cheerful, eager-to-please cluelessness of a six-year-old.

Details, details

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment

When interviewing, it’s best to support grand statements of philosophy with concrete examples of implementation. It’s one thing to say you think differentiated instruction is swell and another thing to talk about how you’ve integrated it into your planning.

I know this, but sometimes I still forget to provide these examples – it’s one of the interviewing skills I simply haven’t mastered. I think part of the reason I forget to illustrate my points is because I find it difficult to come up with examples on the spot – like many people, I am far more likely to remember the perfect supporting story on the drive home than I am sitting across from an interviewer. And sometimes I leave out examples because my internal interviewer clock (honed through years of admissions work) warns me, “you’re taking too long. Wrap this answer up, NOW.” So I weigh the risk of being too vague against the risk of rambling and almost always choose vague as the lesser evil. Once I’m driving home, however, I care less about the timing of my responses and more about the substance of them, so I make a mental list of all of the stories I could have shared but didn’t and I wonder if the interviewer got a good sense of my abilities based on the limited information I provided.

I try not to obsess about this, though. No interview is long enough to cover all of the things that I – or any other candidate – believes or can do. In the end, we hire on first impressions, best guesses, and a leap of faith. My job is to share myself as honestly and fully as possible in the time allowed. Hopefully that will be enough for the interviewer, but if it’s not, I can take what I learned from that interview and try to do better – giving more examples, illustrating more ideas – in my next one.

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