Two Week Alternate Placement

As of Monday I have moved from a suburban junior high to a more urban high school.  This change has exposed me to a whole new range of experiences.

Unfortunately, I am having a difficult time thinking of things that I ought to be writing about.  I have been blogging for many years, and my writing style tends to be very personal.  Writing about my observations without talking about how they impacted me feels unnatural, and I think it’s beginning to give me a case of writer’s block.  This post is an attempt to overcome that by just sitting down and writing about what’s going on with me.

One of the difficulties I am running into is that until recently I’ve been in a junior high.  After five weeks, I can now say with some degree of certainty that I do not like working in a junior high environment.  The students are a confusing mish-mash of elementary and high school maturity.  I find myself having expectations about ability and behavior that exceed the students’ apparent capacity.  This might be partly due to the environment created by my CT, but I have a feeling this is just common to early teens in general.  I think they ought to be able to be more responsible than they are.  And to have more self control.  And a better sense of humor (or at least a little more sophisticated).  Really, though, it’s me.  I am not suited to work with junior high students.  It’s not fun for me.

High school is a whole different ball game.  I spent three days last week helping and observing at a semi-urban high school.  It was homecoming week.  Both students and teachers were engaged in a lot of silliness.  I loved it.  I even loved the hour-long assembly to crown the homecoming king and queen (something I totally disdained when I was in high school).  This week I have been at a different semi-urban high school, and although the instructional methods are very different (and it is not homecoming week) I still love it.

Which leads me to an Aha! moment from earlier this week (I knew just sitting down to write would help).  I started the week with a cold, and by Tuesday morning it was at its worst.  My CT had mandatory district training, so she had called in a substitute.  The sub asked me if I wanted to do the warm up.  I declined, telling her that I didn’t really feel well, and that I was supposed to just be observing anyway.  She was happy to let me sit quietly in the corner.  However, as she began going over the first warm up problem, she had to admit to the class that she did not know the answer.  She asked me if I knew, and suggested I step in and teach the warm up.  I agreed.  This is the first time I had stepped in front of a high school class to teach anything.  I wasn’t nervous.  In fact, it felt right.  I even managed to be a little silly with the students without feeling embarrassed.  I tried at one point to get someone to volunteer to share their sketch of a ray on the interior of an angle, but got no takers.

This was an Aha! moment for a couple of reasons.  The first has to do with the feeling of rightness I mentioned earlier.  The second had to do with something we talked about in my methods class Tuesday night.  One of the main points of the discussion was that it is never a good idea to take another person’s lesson plan and just teach it, without taking the time to make sure it works for you and that you know all the answers to the questions you’re asking the students.  The substitute had not done this.  I don’t know how she would have handled it if I hadn’t been there to step in and take over, but I can imagine it would not have been pretty.

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1 Comment

  1. October 9, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    […] of why I feel so much more at home in a high school than a junior high, something I discussed on Wednesday.  Sure. there are some junior high students who have some pretty big issues, but there seem to be […]


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