The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 08 2012

Happy, Even if I Don’t Sound Like It

Day 63: Oh, the benefits of persistence.

I woke up feeling OK. By my first class of the day, second period, that had pretty much waned. I sounded like a chain smoker. I could barely talk. I resorted to pointing at various students to get them to read what I’d written on the PowerPoint. The stage was set for me to get my butt whooped.

And yet somehow, an incredible thing happened – or maybe it wasn’t incredible at all. When I began class by re-showing the video of the bike store owner they were writing to, and asked students how the project had anything to do with leadership, half the class’ hands shot up. “We need to be leaders, because there’s someone who doesn’t know something and needs our help.” “We need to be respectful leaders, because we can’t make fun of him for not knowing something.”

I had been worried the day before that students had just felt they were aimlessly writing loads upon loads. In fact, when I asked, many students did agree to that. However, students also agreed they were acting as leaders, and understood they were doing something important and real. Before my eyes, here were students acknowledging and proud of all of the incredible values they were building through their science work. To state the obvious, I was pretty damn proud.

This was followed by 30 minutes of effective and on-task work on these letters, even though these same students had just admitted they were tired and ready to wrap up these letters. IC, who had written on his notebook the day before, “I don’t trust NO teachers” – but on prodding, “All teachers?” responded, “All teachers except you” – was not only focused on his graphic organizer, he also took a review packet and got right to work when I asked him to put off starting his test to make sure he was ready first.

At the end of the unit tests, students fill out a short reflection on the Big Goal, which concludes with a letter to me about anything the students want. I saw so many, “I hope you feel better!” and “Get better soon!” notes. Like I said, you win a little when you show some persistence.

In conclusion, my kids were on-task, learned a ton, showed they’re internalizing core values, AND they cared about me. It’s days like this I’m so happy to be a teacher. Although I could do it without the sore throat next time.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

Greater Boston
Middle School

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