Thursday, October 20, 2011

I need a bottle of fine whine...

Let's open this bottle of fine whine:

  • Parents are crazy. From the "outside" looking in, perfectly reasonable (I'm assuming) people go absolutely nuts over their kids, whether it's necessary or not. Time to reevaluate the sanity of mine. Surely, they weren't this kooky? Right?
  • Field trips are crazy. And tiring. And time consuming. 
  • At least, I got to come back with this. 
  • Testing sucks. Developing a test or compiling test questions is the most soul-sucking task I've had yet as a teacher. Test days themselves suck. It takes all I have to not say after 10 minutes, "All right! 100s for participation. Let's talk about the energy transformation in explosions!"
  • Graduate school and being a first-year teacher is the one of the worst situations I've ever put myself into. Seriously. 
Honestly, it would all be easier without this "Theory and Pedagogy in Middle Childhood Science and Math" class in my life. Or maybe it is the self-congratulating professor I could do without. Normally, I don't like calling specifics out in my life, so I don't. However, this class will be an exception. Excuse me for a moment while I go all "Inception" on my fine whines.
  • Assigned readings that are 30 pages are a waste of time, especially when we don't discuss it or we discuss it at a superficial level. Why the hell are we wasting time figuring out how cells can relate to students? Let's talk about the variety of research on inquiry-based teaching methods. No? We're seriously going to talk about dude in the back and his adventure with an unruly student (which is the same "adventure" every teacher deals with at some point in time)? Yup. Wasted afternoon. 
  • By the way, discussing the definition of the word does not a deep conversation make. No joke, an entire session was dedicated to what does the word "inquiry" mean. Did this lead to a conversation on what makes a good inquiry-based lesson or lab versus a bad one? No, it did not. Yet another Tuesday afternoon wasted. 
  • Oh. I take the last bullet back (partially). We did discuss what some other dude who reported on another dude's research said made a good inquiry-based lab. However, I've got a question. When exactly do we let the students come up with their own instructions on how to do the lab (open-question inquiry lab, BTW)? I know we are all "constructivist" and stuff, but should I really let them "construct" their own labs without anything else beforehand? How reasonable is this? When in the "learning cycle" should we try to implement this? No discussion? No. Okay. And we're back to another wasted Tuesday afternoon. 
  • Please stop telling us how awesome your lesson was unless we are about to deconstruct it to figure out why it was good, especially if you are not going to share what you did. You're wasting class time. 
My bottle of fine whine is empty, so I'll end on positive notes about my original three bullets. 
  • If I were a parent, I would go just as hard for my kid. While it is annoying sometimes juggling parents, I try to keep in mind that (a) these crazy parents kept the doors of my school open, and (b) these parents actually respect me and my word enough that they ask me the 1,987,378,432 questions that they do. 
  • Field trips are crazy. And tiring. And time consuming. But hell of a lot of fun. I had a good time experiencing the wonders of life with them, and more importantly, they had a good time and learned a lot!
  •  Testing is still a drag, but it's a necessary evil that I'll learn to live with. Besides, it is a good feeling when they do well. 
If it is not obvious, let me state it: I love teaching. I love my school and my kids (though I don't say it enough to them). I hate graduate school :)