Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Education Rants

I work with many teachers at this school. I love them all for different reasons. They are all great teachers in their own way and they are all so different from one another. And none of them is Kim Jaxon....

Teacher 1: JM Barrie - I cannot praise this teacher's teaching skills highly enough. He's awesome. Students love and respect him. His lessons are very captivating. He is capable of making every student feel smart. He has incredible patience with the children. Today, Jean Valjean knocked over some kids backpack and kicked it when JM Barrie told him to pick it up. JM Barrie told him to repeat the motion of picking the backpack up until he could do so in a mannerly fashion. It literally went something like this. "Put the backpack on the floor and pick it up again." The girl would lay her backpack on the floor and Jean Valjean would kick the air and pick it up. "Okay, you're going to do it three more times. Lay the backpack back down. He'd kick the air and pick the backpack up. On the 7th time "Okay, you are going to do it three more times, and if you keep doing it like that, you are going to go talk to the Principal." He never raised his voice. Not even once. 

In class, he makes every moment a moment where life lessons can be learned. He rewards the students and he makes learning feel like magic. He hardly ever loses his temper. He encourages their imagination by telling them to invent answers. He makes every single kid in there feel smart and he makes his class a safe environment. I do not know a single kid in that class who would be afraid to speak because their classmates might make fun of them, or they might say something wrong. He treats it as a true learning environment where everyone can improve. Because of that, he has their respect, they respect each other and they respect every individual that walks into their classroom. Seriously, he can leave me alone with the students and they will not say a word while he is gone. They will all work on the assignment he has asked them to do unless they have a question or something. And it's not like I would get them in trouble if they did. (Okay, so, maybe I'm biased. They are my favorite class.)

The downside to JM Barrie. He's overly ambitious. Like OVERLY. But it's because he wants every single one of them to succeed. He cares far too much. When I walk into the classroom, he has everything planned down to the second. "Okay, we have a half hour. Do you think you can grade all thirty paragraphs, file three sets of exams and talk to seven students?" Okay, that's a bit of a stretch, but, you get the picture. 

Also, there was one time he let a child get away with plagiarism. PLAGIARISM. One of the only education sins I am fully against. The kids had to write paragraphs about food and a kid copied word for word out of their science book. I recognized it and immediately showed it to JM Barrie, who pretty much dismissed it. "It's good he knew what the topic was about and I doubt he would remember the wording during an exam, but if he did I'd be impressed. He's a good student though, so, write 'Good Job' at the top or something." I'm pretty sure that's almost word for word what he said.

Teacher 2: Elphaba - I love Elphaba. She truly is the misunderstood green lady who just wanted her shoes back because she was upset about her sister's death. Or something like that. But, like the character Elphaba, she has a reputation. Unlike the character, Gregory Maguire has not written a story about her to defend her honor. 

Elphaba also cares too much. She wants her students to be the best and they are. But they are also afraid of her. Maybe she subscribes to the theory that fear motivates them. 

A few of her students had to stay at lunch the other day to finish art projects and they were in the English room with me. They were speaking Spanish even though I kept reminding them that art was a subject they did in English. They didn't listen. Then I asked "What would happen if Elphaba were to walk by and hear you speak Spanish?" I didn't hear a word of Spanish the rest of the time.

Elphaba likes to yell. She likes when kids are wrong because she can go on a half hour tangent to show the person with wrong answer why they were wrong. Yes, she uses this as a learning opportunity, but she uses it to bitch rant. 

One time, a kid was five minutes late to class and she asked him why he was late. He mumbled something that we couldn't hear and she spent fifteen minutes yelling at him to speak up while he stood there crying. "The examiners won't be interested in you crying, they will be interested in hearing you!!!!!!!!" After 15 minutes, I asked if I could say something. I told him how to use his diaphragm. Then she wanted me to teach the whole class. Then we practiced. The English class turned into an acting class for the day with an impromptu performance of Three Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf. It ended up being a lot of fun and even the crying kid was laughing hysterically by the end.

Elphaba loves that kind of stuff. She doesn't like actual lessons. She likes looking for unique ways for the kids to learn English and I really appreciate her for that. She has a lot of faith and pushes them to work really hard. She has them write poems and tell stories and do silly games. Her problem is her intensity, but she never means any harm. 

Okay, well, I will let this entry end here because I feel like it's getting too long and especially ranty. So, my apologies, but I hope you enjoyed the read!

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