Friday, February 27, 2009

Digging Out

Well I think it is about time that I let everyone in on what happened when I went in on Thursday and put the hammer down – so here’s the scoop.

I went into class and started it like normal, with a greeting and asking students to sit down, and then I brought it down on them. I pulled out the teacher voice for a little bit and told them that this was how it was going to be – a three strike policy. They did not seem too enthused about the situation; much less the fact that I did not show them the class policies either (as I figured they knew them as they signed the sheet at the beginning of the semester). So I started class from there and the students started racking up the strikes. Before I knew it I had six students on strike one. Remember that strike two is actually kicking them out.

Class continued on and the students continued some of their normal behavior, getting out of their seats without asking permission, talking out of turn without raising their hand, and various other things that broke class policies. So I stuck to my guns and started handing out strike twos – meaning that students would get kicked out of the classroom. So I kicked out two students pretty quickly, based on their behavior and the class was really quiet now as they understood that I meant business. Then from there two more students got kicked out because of their behavior in the class, not raising their hands before talking. So all in all, I had four students in the hallway, of which I used Anne to go out there with them. After school I sat down with the students that were kicked out and had a little chat with them. They thought that my expectations for them were ridiculous – two strikes and they are gone from the class. So I listened to them, heard them out, and really just kept my mouth shut. I did not want to make the situation any more heated than it already was.

As I left the school and headed for soccer practice, which I have discovered is really helpful for me; I started to reflect on my day. Being a coach, I have gotten a little bit of an insight into how hard I must be as a student teacher to mentor. I can’t even get my goalies to listen to what I am saying at time, how must Anne and Kristin feel at points? Anyway, after soccer I started to reflect on my day pretty heavily on the way home. I considered if the policy was a little too strict, three strikes for the whole semester and they never retire. Plus, one student came up to me after school and told me that she believed that she deserved a first strike. That blew me away, a student self reporting a strike. Her reasoning, though, was that I picked on a few certain kids and kicked them out, when I should have been giving other people strikes too. This shook me up a little bit. I wanted to think that I had everything under control and that my students were actually learning. Let me say, too, that Thursday was the most productive, most helpful, learning environment that I have ever been a part of during 6th hour. But I wondered if I was being too harsh? Did I really miss some kids and their first strike? If I did, I really would feel bad. Plus, I also wondered what I would do tomorrow, Friday, in the classroom. Would I continue to enforce my policies or not? Would I go over the class policies on Friday or not? Would I just continue on and stick to my guns a little bit more? What would it be?

So today, Friday, came and I was all ready to stick to my guns and grin and bear another day of teaching these students in my way, but then I had a revelation. I want this to be an enjoyable experience for them too. I want them to have a say in what they need to do in this classroom; however, that does not mean that I need to take everything they say and actually apply it to my teaching. So I started off class letting them know that I wanted to know what they thought about the three strike rule. Of course there was backlash about how it was too strict, too hard, and totally unfair. I knew that was coming, but what I did not expect was what came out of a few of the students that rarely talk. One student in particular had many good and thoughtful things to say about how the class was treating me very disrespectfully, which from a students’ standpoint was good to hear. In fact, that sentiment was echoed by many others as well. So that was nice that they realized the issue. However, they did not completely understand the solution.

Yesterday I was watching, at my supervising teacher’s request, a video attached to the awesome book (apparently, it was really good the part that I read) called The First Days of School. In there a teacher shared her classroom management techniques, but a thought that she said (and Anne has echoed this many times) was this: “You can have the best lesson plans in the world, have the most engaged students, but if there is no classroom management you are back to square one.” Those words really resonated with me. I do have good planning and good engagement, most of the time. I can always get better in both of those areas. However, the classroom management piece scared me. That’s why when today the students asked, they asked, to try and create their own class policy I gave them time. I know, I probably should have been covering poetry or making sure that everyone properly understands poetry in a new light, but this was important to them and it was important to me. I felt that it was valuable to actually receive their written feedback too. So I had them gather around each other and have a conversation, while I stayed out of the way. They were respectful and really listened to each other; however, they did not come to many solutions. What I prefaced this whole assignment with, was the fact that I would look at their suggestions to help me inform my own policy for the classroom. In addition, I did not want to be that teacher that does not have his classroom under control. I want to have control, I want them to learn, and I want this to be a positive environment for everybody. So I gave them time. It was really interesting watching them talk to each other and try and figure things out.

One thing that a student did accuse me of was that I did not know how to handle a classroom; because I am a student teacher and apparently I have no clue. I was a little upset after this comment because I have put in my time, I have learned the techniques, and I have tried implementing them (without much success). The interesting thing is that they notice that they have screwed up, although they will not admit that or even give me anything to work with.
In addition, they want to have a Socratic seminar style classroom. I told them that they cannot have a Socratic seminar setting with the amount of chatting they do over other students and how they talk without raising their hands. It will have to be something that I will take into consideration when they can actually show me that they can listen and respect each other. However, I held my ground and need to let them know where else I have taught and what that means – basically I need to gain a little bit of credibility with them. I can’t do, though, until I actually get the class under control, which I can’t do until I have a solid policy that the students think is a little fairer and that I can work with at the same time.

Know that I am not giving into their demands, which is the worst thing that I think could happen here – the class goes back to the way it was. I have got the students right where I want them, listening and actually wanting to contribute to the class discussion and I am not going to give that up for anything. I need to, and will preserve, because I am getting out of this hole.
To that end, I also have been taking time for myself. I went running the other day and then tonight I actually played soccer on a co-ed team. It was awesome to actually take some time for myself and really spend some time taking care of me. This weekend I look forward to having a friend visit and spending some time up in the mountains and away from my teaching to recharge and get myself ready for the week. I am figuring out this balance thing, one step at a time.

All in all, I think it has been a good past few days. I have worked hard, learned a lot, and will continue to learn as the new week starts. One day, one shovel, and one class at a time – I am getting out of this hole.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Defines the Bottom?

Often times I think I have it all together.  Life is busy, it’s a little crazy running from one activity to the next, but I can handle it.  I expect myself to handle it and I don’t take no or failure as an option – at least not lightly.

What defines the bottom?  The bottom of your teaching career?  The bottom of your world?  The bottom of your struggle to live up to others’ expectations?  The bottom of your struggle to actually live up to your own expectations?

Well, I think I’ve hit it.

My ninth grade classroom is absolute chaos and I’m teaching through the storm.  My seniors are acting up and becoming too chatty.  My tenth graders are losing interest in Macbeth.  My juniors are still waiting for something to happen so that they can whine and complain about it and for me to let them.  My sleep is low.  My energy is low.  My happiness is low.  And on the other hand, my stress level is through the roof.  Absolutely everything, from issues with friends, to soccer, to teaching, to finding a job – it all seems completely out of control.

So today when the wall finally hit – literally – I broke down.  I’m not that strong.  I put up this front, this idea that I have it all together (which I hope that I usually do), but not today.  Not this afternoon.  I lost it.  I hit the bottom.

Both my cooperating teachers and my supervising teacher are disappointed in what I am doing.  To the point that Anne is close to actually taking over the class, but she doesn’t want.  I’ve let them walk all over me.  I have not done my part.  I have not been the teacher that I deserve to be.  That AHS deserves.  That Anne and Kristin deserve, but most of all, that each and every one of my students in all four of my classes deserve.  I screwed up.  Classroom management is not my thing.  I can’t keep the students quiet, I can’t keep them focused, and now it’s seriously interfering with the education present in the classroom.  It’s not that I did not know about it – I did.  It’s not that Anne and Kristin did not warn me – they did.  It’s not that I did not know what to do – I did.

The problem – I didn’t do anything about it.

So here I sit, at the bottom.

Don’t ask me why I didn’t do anything, because I honestly don’t know.  Don’t ask me why I should have changed things weeks ago, because I should have.  Don’t ask me why I haven’t been successful, because sometimes I question success too.  Don’t ask me why I am frustrated, because I know the reason – it’s just hard to admit when you screwed up.  But I did.  I screwed up.

I let many people down.

I let AHS down.

I let my students down.

I let Anne and Kristin down.

I let myself down.

So there you have it: A classroom, a life, an individual out of control and at rock bottom.

I guess I could sit here, walk around all depressed like, and eat bon bons all day.  I could question the type of teacher that I am.  Do I really give good feedback?  Do the students really respond well to my instruction?  Do they really enjoy having me in the classroom?  I’m not going to lie, but the thought crossed my mind once or twice: Am I really meant to be a teacher?

Maybe that’s pushing it a little far, but right now I’m frustrated.  I’ve had bad days before, but nothing like this.  There is nothing like being overwhelmed, stressed out, overly tired, and feeling like I am drowning in my own mess - Especially when it is a mess that I am responsible for, a mess that I created, and a mess that I need to clean up.

I was thinking on the way home, how do I turn this around?  How do I not let myself down?  How do I not let Anne and Kristin down?  How do I not let AHS down?  And most of all, how do I not let my students down?

Then I figured out that if I’m at the bottom, then there really is only one way to go – up.  So here’s the plan.  I work harder, but I work smarter: 

1.)    I take care of myself.  The best teacher with the best lesson plans and best students is not effective on four hours of sleep and no exercise in the last two weeks.  I need to, not have to or should, but I need to take care of myself.

2.)    Students come first.  It comes before soccer, it comes before skiing on the weekend, it comes before hanging out, it comes before other e-mail accounts, and it comes before time spent in idle hours (which has not happened, nor do I perceive it happening).  The students are why I am here.  The students are the focus.  Not the soccer, not the technology, not the crazy lesson I had planned – but the students.  I will admit that I have not put students first, but I need to be better at it.

3.)    There needs to be a balance.  A balance between grading and planning, a balance between content and conversation, a balance between school and soccer, and a balance between home and school.  I need to find time for everything, but what that looks like I’m still trying to figure out.

4.)    Finally, I need to stop making excuses and get out there and do something about it.  I am tired of being treated like a student teacher – taken advantage of at all points – But I have no one, and I mean no one, to blame but myself.  Anne and Kristin have done everything in their power and more.  Now it’s up to me.  I need to step up and I have no choice.

I can keep living down here at the bottom, like I am right now, or I can get up and do something about it.  I don’t like it down here – so I am going to have to change.  I have no choice.  If I want my days to be better I need to change.  I don’t want Anne and Kristin disappointed anymore, I don’t want AHS thinking that they made a wrong move allowing me to teach there, and I don’t want my students learning from a bad teacher.  So here I go.  I am going to pick myself up, dust off my jeans, and get off of the bottom.  That’s what I am going to do.

It’s not going to be easy, but I want to succeed.  I want to be happy.  I want to live up to my standards.  I want to live up to others’ standards.  I want to live up to the educational standard that I would want my kids’ to have in the classroom.  I want to start providing that, starting tomorrow.  No more old Randon, no more pathetic, nice, I’ll let you do anything, push me some more and I’ll give you more Randon, no more.  Student teaching is learning and I have learned, I have reached the bottom, but now I have six weeks to fix it.

It’s my job, my duty, my role, and my utmost responsibility to change this.  So tomorrow a new ball game starts.  Tomorrow, the ball is back in my court.  Tomorrow, I hold the control.  Tomorrow, I stay fast to my rule.  Tomorrow, I let them know that I screwed up, but that I am learning and that their behavior is not acceptable.  It’s my fault that I haven’t done anything about it, and I understand that, but what’s done is done.  It’s over.  I can’t dwell there.  I have six weeks.  Six weeks to turn around a chaotic classroom, an unengaged classroom, a whiny classroom, and a chatty classroom.  I don’t have options and I don’t have time.  It my back against the wall and it has got to be done.  So I have no choice.  No other choice, but to turn it around.

The bottom is not fun, so it’s time to get out.  Tomorrow the change begins.

So what will I do?

I think it starts from within.  I need to be ready to put the hammer down.  It is no longer Mr. Nice guy.  It is Mr. Teacher, a respected individual who will take action when necessary:

  1. If a student is causing an issue in class (talking while I am talking, talking while another student is talking, talking across the classroom, or getting out of there seat) they will receive one warning.  They might get moved, they might not – it doesn’t really matter, but they will receive a warning.  
  2. If a student continues their behavior I will kick them out of class, talk to them, and then call their parents.  I have to stop being nice and start taking control.  
  3. Finally if a student is still being a disruption in class and I have to kick him or her out of class a second time, it does not matter when they were kicked out the first time, but they are then getting a referral filled out on their behalf for their actions and their parents are being called.  
That’s the plan, across all of my classes.  No exclusions no opt outs, no special cases, and no other rules.  It’s that simple.  One and you’re done.  I’m fed up with it and it needs to stop.  So I have to find that teacher voice.  I have to enforce the rules and I have to make a difference.  My students are counting on me to make the difference, so I need to do it.  If that means kicking out fifteen people into the hallway, then fine.  If that means spending three hours on the phone talking to parents, then fine.  I will do it.  I want change.  I want it to be different.  I want to make a difference in the lives of others.  I want that now and I wanted that yesterday.  So it starts tomorrow.  Classroom management improves.  Life in the classroom improves.  My confidence level improves as I lay down the hammer.

I can climb out of the bottom one step, one period, and one interaction at a time.  So it begins: the battle for education, the battle for control, the battle for a good environment, and the battle for effective education.  I can have all the other pieces in place, but if I don’t have the classroom management piece, it is all worthless.

I don’t think you can truly define the bottom until you’ve gotten there.  I think I’m there.  Although, the good part of this story is that it is not over yet.  I have fifty-nine minutes tomorrow, fifty-nine minutes the next day, and fifty-nine minutes the day after that.  But it starts with me making the changes, getting a grip, and doing something about these words and the words that have been spoken to my cooperating teachers and to others.

None of this means anything unless I put my mouth and my actions where my words are.  If I can really get out of the bottom – and soon. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Halfway Home

It is crazy to think that I am already halfway done with my student teaching.  I have grown so much in the past seven weeks – in terms of understanding what this profession is all about, students, lesson planning, teaching, and a whole variety of other aspects.  At the midway point I think it is important for me to stop and realize also that it is such a privilege to be where I am and working with the students that I get to meet on a daily basis at AHS.  

So thank you to my two amazing cooperating teachers, friends, family, the staff at AHS, the Wartburg West program that made this opportunity possible, and most of all to my students for allowing me to be your student teacher for the past seven weeks.

Collaborative Cooking: A New Approach for Males

As many of you may know, while I am currently living here in Denver I have my good friend James as a roommate.  Well James would be what many people consider a typical male – he is a little cooking challenged.  To the point that there were two humorous things James said today:


“Randon, do you know how to make scrambled eggs?”

Needless to say thanks to my mother and both grandmothers’ kind and gentle training I do know how to make scrambled eggs.  So this morning I had the privilege of giving James pointers on how to produce an effective plate of scrambled eggs. 

“Randon, I’m just going to mix up the cake in here” (referring to the ungreased cake pan).

First of all, I must say that I have witnessed for the first time James baking or cooking two things in one day – it must be a record that needs to be marked on the calendar.  Secondly, any seasoned (or anyone that has really baked a cake before or knows how to bake a cake) knows that you cannot mix the eggs, oil, water, and cake mix together in the pan as James was planning on doing.  Once again I was given the esteemed privilege of helping James out with his cake, which did in fact turn out to be pretty good after he mixed it in up a separate bowl and greased the cake pan. 

All in all I must say that this was not the first time that James has asked me for cooking advice and I’m sure that it will not be the last.  It just surprised me a bit that men, the guys that do not even stop to ask for directions, will stop and question their cooking.  Maybe it is because they actually care a little bit more about what they are eating than arriving on time to something.  Who knows, but what I found really cool was that James did ask me for assistance.  

If only more educators would do the same thing in their classrooms – ask for assistance – then maybe like James, they would become a little more successful in reaching their students, improving their lessons, or even getting better at classroom management.  Who knows, they might even learn how to scramble eggs or bake a cake?

What’s The Intent?

Friday in English Literature class I had a few visitors from out of state that were in town for the conference on educational technology that was held today.  After class one of my visitors asked me a really interesting question: What’s the intent? 

What he was referring to was a music video that I had shown in class.  We are currently studying The Picture of Dorian Gray and the students have been connecting that to having two different views of them: the way the world sees them and how they see themselves.  It has led to some very interesting discussions in class that have dipped over into the question of beauty.  What is true beauty in our society today?  Well on Friday we looked at Brittney Spears and how she was the epitome of teenage beauty in our society a few short years ago, but how she has literally fallen out of that category as a result of her actions.  What I did was show a video that is of a new song by Bebo Norman, a Christian artist, called Brittney.  It is about how society destroyed Brittney Spears and not only society, but how each of us individually played a part in her downfall.  Anyway, I showed a video of the music by Bebo Norman that also had images of Brittney Spears in the background and images from The Passion of the Christ

I knew before ever showing the video that I needed to have intent to show the film, even though I know this class can handle a little bit of religious overtones I felt that the images of Brittney and the words of the text would be enough for the students to handle.  I even prefaced the video by sharing that it was very religious video and that the music and images come from that viewpoint.  I thought I was covered (that is until I talked to Anne after school and she mentioned that I always need to give an opt out assignment – that was a good reminder), so I showed the video.  After it was over we debriefed the video a bit, not as much as I would have liked, and then moved on to our final activity of the day.  

Which leads me into the question that the guest asked me: What was the intent?  We had a little discussion after class about the religious symbols in the video and if it was really necessary to share the video at all.  Do the students really need to see the images?  Have they seen them before?  If the purpose for activity is to hear the song, then do they need to see someone’s interpretation of it?  Couldn’t you just play the video and not show the picture?  That way they are really focused only on the music and the words of the song and not on the images present on the screen.  He had some really great thoughts and it just brought back the question once again for me to consider: What’s the intent?  What is the intent in using that piece of technology, that new gadget, or even the computer at all?  Does the activity really warrant you using that element?  Why or why not?  

As I was challenged in my thinking, so I would like to challenge you.  Before showing a YouTube video in class or doing another activity on the computer, ask yourself these questions: What’s the intent?  Does it warrant using whatever tool you would be using?  Why or why not?  Once you have answered these questions, proceed on with caution and constant reflection.

The One-Stop Resource – Does It Exist?

It was really awesome to be at this conference and to be surrounded by so many other educators sharing awesome resources and ideas for the use of technology in the classroom.  Although, the afternoon came and I was sitting down at my roundtable discussion on finding resources and came across this one big question that was lingering in my brain: Is there a one-stop resource?  Meaning, can I as an educator go to one source and look up all the ideas, technology, and Web 2.0 tools all in one spot? 

So does something like that even exist?  Looking at my table there was one educator who had been working on a very well put together website for over six years and had a variety of ideas and lessons to go with it.  Another teacher had a list of ideas and places to go on her del.icio account.  Yet another had just a list in Microsoft Word.  The table moderator was looking through her syllabi and pulling out her resources from there and I had a Google document that had a bunch of ideas on there too.  It was so cool to see all these different ideas all coming together at one table.  I really felt that we had a great connection and that we were really sharing effective ideas, but one question kept running through my head: Where is the one-stop resource? 

What if all the great educational ideas, sample lesson plans, and student examples of work for a whole variety of technology and 2.0 tools could be found in one place?  What if there were descriptions for all the tools explaining if it needed to be downloaded or was on the Internet, if it was free or cost something, and then if there were actual helpful thoughts on how this resource could be used in the classroom?  What if a source, one source, like that existed?  What would happen to educators?  Would that be helpful? 

The problem right now, at least as I see it, is that there will never be, nor would it be even possible to have, just one source.  Everyone has their own ideas about what is useful and what is not, what is a good Web 2.0 tool and what is not, and everyone seems to have their own creative way of putting that out on the web for the world to see.  What if we all collaborated, shared or ideas, and then put together a site that contained all of our ideas and gave credit to all of us for putting it all together?  Going back to The 5-95 Question, then hopefully the five can help the 95 along with a resource like this. 

So that leads me back to my overarching question for this post: Does a one-stop resource for educational technology ideas exist?  I don’t think so, but what if one was started to contain some of the greatest resources know to the five percent?  What if that website, Wiki space, or some other format was created, would it be helpful?  What form would it take?  Who would it be targeted at?  Who would maintain it?  

I struggle with this question because I want a one-stop source.  It seems like the resources are out there and that people are sharing them with one another, but how do we take one of these ideas and create them into a source that is easy for educators to come to and that they know about?  

Maybe that is where my summer project lies – create this one-stop source based on the ideas from the collective five percent.  Or has this already been done and no one knows about it?  Then the problem arises of driving people to the site and obtaining information to update it, but I guess that can be a hurdle to be crossed at a later point and time. 

In conclusion, does a one-stop educational technology resource database of tools exist?  If so, where is it?  If not, would it be helpful if I put together a list of collective ideas from the five percent to help the 95 percent out?  

What do you think?  Leave your comments and feedback below.  Thanks!

Where Is The Line In The Sand?

So one of the sessions that I went to at the Learning 2.0 conference was all about teaching students how to Remix music, video, and audio all together into one big package.  The presenters discussed the copyright laws and the non copyright laws and what students’ options were when dealing with publishing work.  They also mentioned how often the copyright laws change, basically like every week, so how are educators or anyone for that matter supposed to stay with what is current in the law?  Then how do we explain that to our students?  It is all really unclear in my opinion.  The discussion switched from getting copyright is not the only option, students can get a creative commons license to cover them.  This would allow the students to publish their work and still retain the rights to it, but still allow others to use part or the whole of the music, video, or remix to create their own creations.  It sounded like a great idea, but the whole concept still puzzles me. 

If I assign a video project and want my students to pull in video and pictures, most likely many of them are going to go to YouTube or some other video source like that and copy, rip, and cut down the part of the song or video that they want in their video.  Then together with a variety of other clips that they have done the same thing to they will create a Remix – or at least that is my perception of what is going on here.  Although, technically this is still against law because students are copying work, off of YouTube, and using it for their own purposes – even if the clip is shorter than 30 seconds and even if it is for educational purposes.  So where is the line in the sand? 

What can and cannot my students do in the classroom?  Can they take pictures off Google images and put them on their Wikispaces?  If so, then how do they properly cite that?  Is a URL enough information or not?  Why?  What about adding their own purchased music into a video that they are going to post onto YouTube, is that ok?  Well normally I would say maybe, but according to other educators at the conference YouTube now strips all iTunes music off videos (even if the author did correctly purchase the music).  So can I still have the students upload their videos on their own Wikispaces?  How do they share what they have created legally with the world?  What about copying parts of songs or video off YouTube?  Is that ok?  Can my students go on and do that?  What about the part of the person’s video that my students are copying where the content is from a copyrighted source.  Can a student copy someone else’s already copyrighted video?  Is that legal?  What if a student gets a Creative Commons license, and then are they off scot free?  I don’t think so, but where do we draw the line?  Where the line in the sand between what my students is can and cannot do in the classroom, and how do they cite what they borrow? 

So I left the session with a few more questions than answers, but it was good because that means that I am learning.  In addition, it will give me a discussion starter with others that were not at the conference on Monday.  What I realized, though, is that pretty soon there will have to be quite a large shift in how things like video Remixes and copyrighted music purchased legally are used in education and across the other disciplines too.  Is Creative Commons a solution to this problem?  Only time will tell, but I am still left wondering: Where is the line in the sand?

The Six Word Memoir: A Work In Progress

Today I learned about and was given the book Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs By Famous and Obscure Writers.  Based on the idea that when Hemingway famously wrote, “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn,” he proved that an entire story could be told in half a dozen words.  So the online storytelling magazine SMITH in 2006 asked their readers to submit six-word memoirs they proved that a whole, real life could be told in the same way.  They received an enormous response and created a book of one thousand responses to the six word memoir challenge.  A few of my favorites found in the book so far are:

"Educated too much, lived too little.” – Dan Vance (p. 115)

“Not quite what I was planning . . . “ – Summer Grimes (p. 140)

“Mixed blood.  I am America’s future.” – Holly Santiago (p. 89)

“Cursed with cancer. Blessed with friends.” – Hannah Davies (p. 86)

“Wasted time regretted so life was reinvented.” – Vicky Oppus (p. 9)

It sounded like such a neat idea that I just had to try to write out my own.  So here it is (remember it is a work in progress):

Helped bridge:

      Teachers, Students 

      Technology, World 

I will probably use this assignment in the near future with one of my classes, possibly my 10th grade students because they just got done writing normal length memoirs anyway.  However, I would encourage you to write your own six-word memoir.  What would it say?  

The 5 – 95 Question

Today I had the privilege of attending a conference called “Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation.”  It was a gathering of educators mainly from Colorado, but some from across the region and the country (both physical and virtual) to discuss teaching, learning, and technology in education.  The conference was put together by an idea of Karl Fisch’s two years ago.  The conference was focused on three main principles:

1.)    That this conference would be participatory.  It would not be presenters talking to you and you not taking anything with you and actually applying it in the classroom.  Instead, this would be different.  It would be a conversation that continues on into the future and that you would actually understand how this applies and not say on Monday morning, “That’s a great idea, but I have no clue how that would fit into my curriculum.”

2.)    There are no vendors at this conference.  The purpose is not to sell things to people, it is a conversation, a learning, sharing, interactive conversation that focuses on the question of: That’s cool, but now what do we do with it?

3.)    Student involvement is a must.  Students are the heart and soul of what we do.  We can not be educators without students, so they need to be involved (and were involved) in the conversation.  

Needless to say I think the whole premise and three main points of the conference really set it apart for other ones that I have been to.  That being said, today I joined roughly 200 physical participants and a lot more virtual participants at this conference and I learned, reflected, and literally joined in on the conversation.  

As I was driving back home, though, a question popped into my head: The 5-95 Question to be exact.  It really, truly seemed like the educators who attended this conference are literally at the edge of the educational technology knowledge, experience, and field as a whole.  They are trying out new things, pushing students and computers in new ways, and really knocking down the walls of education – in very effective ways.  I will write more about the sessions and the ideas I took away in later posts, but I want to focus on this question.  As I left my last conversation of the day we all exchanged Twitter names and del.icio account addresses.  We are apparently past the point of cell phones and way past the point of e-mail addresses – at least the group of people that I was with today.  I saw it everywhere and I was surrounded by it: educators on their computers checking their Tweet Decks, pulling up resources and showing them to other people, and really sharing and adding to the conversation.  What struck me, though, was that the people there today are not your normal run of the mill educators.  They were the elite, the dedicated, the hard working, the want to push the limits, tech savvy, and edge of the knowledge type of people.  I consider myself pretty learned in the area of educational technology, but I was surrounded by people that were using and knew about the same tools that did.  For once in my life I was surrounded by people that share the same passion for education, technology, and students as I do.  So if I was to gather and say that those that were there today were roughly the top five percent of educators – those that want to learn, engage their students, and incorporate technology into their classrooms (give or take a few percent, remember I am a Language Arts teacher and not a math one).  

That leaves 95 percent of the teaching force out of that top five percent.  Where were they today?  What is holding them back?  Are they abrasive to the technology?  Do they consider themselves too much of a Digital Immigrant?  What is the case? 

This all leads me back to my question: How does the five percent deal, train, help, collaborate, and remember the 95 percent?  I think it is totally awesome that we all met today and learned, pushed our thinking, made new connections, and will continue on learning.  However, what happens to the 95 percent of the teachers that were not there today?  How do we push their thinking in the areas of technology, learning, and education in general in the future while still pushing the five percent as well?  

I guess that’s why if I had an answer then it wouldn’t be called The 5-95 Question.


The great part about being a student teacher and being halfway done with the experience is that I can look back and notice how far I have come.  I honestly wish, and maybe some day if I ever get the privilege, honor, or opportunity of having a student teacher, that I would have taped the first day of my student teaching.  It would be amazing to see how far I have come in seven weeks.  One thing that has definitely changed is my depth and recognition of quality self reflection. 

What I mean is that on Friday after school Anne and I were reflecting about the day and everything that had happened.  I was just telling her thing after thing that I was happy about, but also what I was not happy with and that needed to improve.  The one major stumbling block in my teaching so far, and I think it is more of something that I notice with my ninth grades but that happens in all of my classes, are my transitions. 

I do not mean my transitions from one activity to the other or finding the next classroom to teach in (needless to say I have not gotten lost lately), but rather my transition from individual student questions before the period starts and actually starting the whole class on that day’s activities.  Students are always coming up and giving excuses, making appointments with me, or understanding the work that was assigned while they were absent.  I struggle with making the shift from those individual questions to addressing the whole class and going from there.  How do I tell students that want to talk to me to do it after class when they are standing right there?  Or do I answer all their questions and then get started with the class?  How do I answer one student’s question and then not another?  I want to teach bell-to-bell, but it has been really hard with the transition from the individual questions to the whole class material.  It will be something that I am focusing on getting better during weeks eight and nine.

It Is Amazing What Expectations Can Do

So if you have been reading lately this blog lately you may have noticed that I have been having some classroom management issues with my ninth grade students.  Well I am here to say that the issues have not been resolved, but instead things are much better after a week of trying new things, reflection, and learning. 

On Wednesday I had gone through my material for the day and was about ready to give time to work when I stopped, paused, and set-up the expectation for work time.  I asked the students to respond to what they thought the purpose of work time was and really pulled out of them the expectations of the next thirty minutes.  Then I amended their suggestions with a few of my own and did it in a bit stronger voice than normal, but still not my mad teacher voice.  Finally, I made sure they understood what the expectation for work time was.  They did, and so I released them to go and work.  It was incredible what they did for the next thirty minutes – they sat, worked, and the room was quiet.  I thought that I had inherited a different class almost. 

After class was over Anne and I sat down to debrief over the day, like we usually do, and I brought up how they had worked really well that day.  Anne asked me why, which of course made me think a little more about my teaching.  I responded with the thought that I had the conversation with the students before I released them.  To which Anne agreed.  She even said that she was really proud of me because I was starting to get it.  I gave the expectation before they started to work and then I did not have to correct the whole class behavior thirteen times while they were working.  She was happy, I was happy with myself, and a new skill had been learned, applied, and that was good.  I tried something new, succeeded, reflected on my practice, and I am excited to implement it into more lessons and classes in the future.

Making the Art Come Alive

Last week as part of an observation I returned to an AP Literature classroom to see a discussion of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  It was a fantastic discussion and the teacher brought in the film versions of the current film and the A & E version also.  Before she showed the films, as a class we discussed the portion of the text that we were going to watch, which happened to be the first time that Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth.  We read through the text and the teacher talked about how important this part is and pointed out a few of the elements that make Austen so special and timeless.  Then we did something that I was not expecting, but was the absolute highlight of my day – the teacher asked me to read the part of Mr. Darcy. 

So she read aloud the dialogue of Elizabeth and I was Mr. Darcy and we went back and forth with the beautiful language and syntax of Austen coming alive in front of our eyes.  It was so much fun acting out that part and really giving life, shape, and meaning.  What was even more awesome for me was that I was sitting in a room full of girls – the boys were all reading another novel and had left the classroom to discuss it.  So here I am acting out the part of one of the most well known male figures in English literature in front of a bunch of girls.  Let me tell you though, that this was one of the most fun experiences I have had so far in student teaching.  Not because of the acting, which was really enjoyable, but because the text came alive and actually began to mean something to the girls in this class.  I could tell by their laughter, joy, and excitement that they had begun to look at Austen in a completely different way. 

As I walked out of the class that day I thought one thing: “This is why I study Language Arts – because it is fun, especially when you get into it, and it is totally applicable to real life.”

Double Feedback: Discussion Two

Anne and I completed our second discussion over the 9th graders’ papers last week.  We once again collected two copies of papers from the students.  Then from there we both gave feedback and then met and discussed the conclusions.  Anne wrote down a lot more comments than I did, but I am learning a lot from this experience, and specifically from this feedback time. 

One thing that I learned was to look at the big picture.  I often got caught up in the little details of the papers that I was giving feedback on, the commas, errors in punctuation, and other marks, that I forgot to acknowledge the larger picture.  What does this quote have to do with the entire paragraph?  What about its significance to the entire paper?  I seemed to miss this connection in many of the papers that I gave feedback on.  I will need to remember this fact as I continue on the journey of this paper. 

Another thing I learned was to mark everything.  There were a few papers in particular that after the first page of the same errors time and time again – personal words, contractions, or missing the same element every time – that I honestly gave up.  I did not mark anymore.  I figured that since I marked it on the first three pages that the student should be able to figure it out.  This spurred an interesting conversation with Anne and a realization inside me.  Anne told me, and I agree with her, that it is our job as educators to mark everything – to give the student the feedback.  Then in the wonderful questioning method of reflection she asked me this: How is a student to know what they did wrong if you do not mark it?  That caused an interesting reaction inside of me.  I thought initially that it was a waste of time for me to mark everything at the beginning, but instead now that I realize it I need to.  They may not realize their mistake, they may not change it, or they may ignore the mistake on a later page because I did not mark it.  So, the next round of feedback I will be marking everything and giving the students the feedback that they deserve and that I would want if I was the student.  

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ok, So I’ve Been A Little Busy - Literally

I must apologize to all my readers that it has been so long since I have posted. Life has been a little crazy with teaching, living in Denver, and coaching. I know that is not an excuse, but honestly the time and the lack of sleep finally came to a head late last week and into this week. Getting less sleep than I am currently getting does not really sound like a good idea. So I apologize for not writing more, but honestly four preps are eating up my time. I work on school literally from the moment I wake up until I fall asleep reading or grading at night.

However, when a writer wants to write he or she writes. So today I just wrote.

I really hope you enjoy the shorter, more to the point reflections that follow chronicling my last week of school.

Here’s a listing of all the new posts. Click on them and you’ll get to them if you don’t see them on the main page:

Did I take ED 105: Classroom Management for
the Aspiring Teacher?
And if so,
where are my notes?

Blogging- What’s the purpose of
Fifty-Nine Minutes anyway?

Where was my student teaching disclaimer form?

I am surrounded by greatness,
but supported in my weakness

Reflections on Teaching Writing to 9th Graders

Screwing Up and Learning From It

Watching and Applying

Technology: Is Higher Education Behind?

The Lost Connection

The Other Cooperating Teacher

“I’m Not Going To Throw You the Life Jacket”

PLC’in it Up – American Lit Style

Where Do I Fit In?

The True Role of Professional Development

So What, I’m A Guy

Getting to Know Women on a Completely Different Level

Teaching is NOT life, Contrary to a Previously Held Idea

Last Lecture: Help?

Fun in the Classroom

Where’s Randon Anyway?

So grab a coffee or your favorite drink and have fun reading my new posts. I hope you enjoy reading and commenting on them as much as I have enjoyed writing them!

Where’s Randon Anyway?

Many of you have been asking for pictures of where I have been living and teaching.  I wanted to give you a little insight into where I work, AHS, and specifically one of the classrooms where I teach.  I have also included pictures of the Wartburg West apartment so that you know where James, my roommate, and I are living.  Hopefully this puts everything a little more in perspective. 

Click on the link to go to the Fifty-Nine Minutes Blog Google Site to view the pictures. 

Fun in the Classroom

Late last week Kristin commented to me that I had lost that smile and bright face that my supervising teacher had noticed previously.  That kind of upset me, until I noticed that she was right.  With my 10th graders especially I was not giving them my all and really having fun in the classroom.  I am enjoying my placement, my students, and my life at AHS – shouldn’t I show that to my students?  I think so!  So over the past few days I have tried to keep that idea at the forefront of my mind as I have been teaching.  

I am having fun teaching, my students are having fun in the classroom (or at least when they are not taking a test), so why can’t I smile, joke around, and have a good time?  That will be a focus for week seven.

Last Lecture: Help?

My senior class is in the middle of completing a Last Lecture project, based on Randy Pausch’s best selling book, The Last Lecture. They have to write a ten minute reflection on living, sharing what they would want to share about life, lessons lived, and ideas they would want to leave with people they love and care about most.

Anyway their first part of the lecture, it is divided into three parts, of their reflections on birth to high school was due on Friday. Over the next week Anne and I will read and conference with them about this part. Being fair to the students, and learning ourselves, Anne and I thought it would be really fun to do this assignment with the students. So we both created the first part of our Last Lectures and gave them to the students. We are hoping that we can inspire them with our writing, while also having them give us feedback on our writing.

If you want to read what I wrote or even give me comments, please head on over to the Fifty-Nine Minutes Wiki space by clicking here. Enjoy! The other two parts will be coming in the following weeks.

Teaching is NOT life, Contrary to a Previously Held Idea

A few weeks ago I wrote a post that mentioned a comment by Anne to me about how busy teachers are at all times – at night, weekends, and during breaks. I received a few comments on the blog about how that does not have to be true and I am here to say that I have now changed my idea.

Teaching, for the past few weeks has been my entire life, from waking up to going to bed. Although, last weekend I went up to my friend’s house in the mountains and spent the day not doing teaching work. It was great and it reminded me that teaching does not have to be the only thing I do. I can teach, I can plan, and I can spend my time with friends and family too – as long as I make sure my stuff gets done. I am sure it will all get easier as I go on and as I teach more, into years three, four, and five teaching should get easier – at least not as labor intense and crazy.

Which brings me to my “take home message” or main point with this post: Teaching is not life, although it can be if you make it to be.

Getting to Know Women on a Completely Different Level

I’m still single, so don’t worry this post will not be about dating or relationships of that kind at any point. It is about women and soccer though.

As many of you may know I am assistant coaching for the women’s soccer team at AHS, specializing and working with my favorite positional – goalies. This experience so far has been absolutely amazing. I cannot believe how much fun it has been to get to know these girls on a level outside of the school building. There is a different type of connection with these girls that I cannot even describe. It has been a lot of fun and a challenge at the same time.

One thing I have noticed, and no offense to guys here, but women soccer players work really hard, harder than guys I would say. The best part too is that they do not complain like guys do. These women are also the type that want to do well, that want to be pushed, and that want to get better – so that also helps the coaching situation.

It has been a pleasure getting to know these women and to coach them. It has made teaching a little harder, a little more stressful and life busier, although it has been really fun and enjoyable. Here we go too, because pre-season is over and try outs start on Tuesday. Let the games begin.

So What, I’m A Guy

The other day I was leaving to go towards my 10th grade classroom when I noticed two of my students talking to Kristin. She later shared with me that these two students, both females, were just sharing that they missed Mrs. Leclaire, a female, in front of the class.

Then it hit me, students choose their teachers, especially at a 10th, 11th, and 12th grade level based on a variety of factors – one of them being sex of the teacher. Both of my cooperating teachers are female, which is really interesting because I am obviously male. It has made me reflect on the fact that because I am a male how the classroom has changed.

I really began to consider how do I connect with my male and my female students? It seems like I have a better time connecting with my male students in Kristin’s classes and usually the females in Anne’s classes. Explain that one!

It has been really interesting hearing about the conversation that those two female students told Kristin. How I deal with both female and male students in the future will be one of the things that I, a male teacher, will need to pay closer attention to in the future.

The True Role of Professional Development

A few weeks ago I met with one of the instructional coaches at AHS, Ray Hawthorne. He is not the guy that comes and evaluates you to offer you a job next year. Instead, he is there to help teachers become better teachers in concrete, productive ways (I hope I wrote that out right Ray). Anyway I had a great conversation with him about how to improve instruction in the classroom, and what that looks like at AHS. I really look forward to having a few more conversations in the future and having him come into my classroom in the future.

One thing we talked about was setting one goal and trying to improve upon that through observing and then exploring new and different ideas. He told me about an educator that focused on learning and implementing one new thing every year. After thirty years she had learned and applied thirty new things to teaching and her instruction had improved that much.

He really had some good thoughts on teaching and reminded me that teaching is not about us – it is about the students and them learning. We also talked about how not being perfect is ok. That really spoke to me, because of the high expectations I set for myself and of the school and my cooperating teachers.

Finally, he reminded me to reflect on these questions:

1.) What did I do well?

2.) What is one change I would make?

I need to embrace what went well, as long as what did not go as well. That is not easy to do on a bad day with the critical mind that I have, although, I will try Ray. Thanks for your words.

Where Do I Fit In?

Last Monday I went to a discussion at Colorado University called “Bridges to the Future – A Nation Still at Risk: The Future of Education.” The topic of the evening was “Educational Practices and Policy in the 21st Century.” It was a panel discussion between the former superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Jerry Wartgow, a middle school teacher and finalist of the 2008 presidential award teaching award, Jen Phillips, and a principal and key education advisor to President Obama, Michael Johnston. It was quite a panel discussion and I thought I would share a few ideas here of their thoughts.

In their opening statements Mr. Wartgow commented on the 991 factor. That 9 percent of a student’s life between birth and high school graduation is spent inside the school, while 91 percent of it is spent outside of it. He really challenged me to think about that. Is our content really that relevant to students’ lives? How do we as educators take into account for the other 91 percent of students’ lives? Do we discount it all together, or do we bring it into the classroom and make the 91 percent apply to the 9 percent?

Ms. Phillips noted two significant shifts in education happening today. One, she said was a shift from teaching to learning. No longer can we just stand in front of the class and teach material. We are now collaborating, meeting in Professional Learning Communities, and working together collaboratively to tackle content and make it relevant to our students in the 21st Century. The second shift she mentioned was that from knowledge to 21st Century readiness. She says this shift is that from just knowing the content to actually applying in the 21st Century. How is what we are teaching really relevant? Is what we are teaching relevant? How do we make it relevant? She said, “Teachers and systems need to recognize the need of their students and work together to make those possible.” How are we doing this at AHS? What about in higher education?

Mr. Johnston is accomplished not only for being President Obama’s key education advisor, but because he started the first high school (to his knowledge) that has had 100 percent of its graduating seniors go on to college – the first time ever in the state of Colorado. He said a couple of really cool things I thought. One, that education is about people. It always has and it always will be, but what needs to change is to start keeping the good people. He said that a board of education member in California once said, “There is not a shortage of highly qualified teachers, but a shortage of environments that highly qualified teachers want to teach in.” That made me really consider the question, is AHS an environment that highly qualified teachers want to teach in? I think so, but some other schools I have visited are the exact opposite. How do we maintain or change the school environment across the country to keep highly qualified teachers? That is still a question to be answered. Mr. Johnston also said this, “The art of teaching is not the what, but the how.” Across the country most classrooms are teaching very similar content, but just in different ways. How do we take some of those most effective ways of teaching content, the how, and expand that on a broad, national level? That is another question that is still to be answered. He also said, “It is no longer a question of if good teaching and best practices are happening today, but finding it, growing it, and scaling it out.” Where are educators doing the best things with the content – I would say AHS does a pretty good job of this, but where else across the country? How do we find it? Then how to we grow that to a point and in a model that can be copied across the country in both small, rural schools and large, urban schools so that education can continue to thrive in the 21st Century?

The rest of the conversation lasted on technology, teaching, parental involvement, and a few other topics, but what really hit me was this: Where do I fit in?

All three educators agreed on this point: “We are at the cusp of educational knowledge right now.” No one knows exactly where to go and what to do, we have some ideas, some very good ideas, but no one has a great idea of best practices, data driven content, and professional development. How can we take the good things and scale them out? That is the question in this new day.

Once again, where do I fit in? I have a passion for teaching, technology, and teaching other teachers how to be better teachers. I have loved going to PLC days, hearing what other teachers are doing, and then I am looking forward to going back to Wartburg and sharing what I have learned about teaching, technology, and learning. I want to know what other people are doing across the educational world and I want to teach people how to be better teachers through the use of technology in the classroom.

What are some cool, new ideas to incorporate technology into education? How do I teach that to others? Is that by teaching for a few years? Is that consulting with small school districts? Is that by talking to higher education institutions about technology and learning? Is that applying a K-12 educational model to a higher learning institution? Is that fixing computers and having an outlet that way? Is it traveling around the US to highly achieving, highly qualified teachers and watching them teach? Then taking that knowledge and writing a book about good teaching? Is that by writing this blog?

Where do I go from here? Do they have a job that fits all that? What is it and where do I sign up? I feel like I can do something to change the world, the world of education, in a big way. But what does that look like? How do I do that? Anyone have ideas? Better yet, anyone know of a job opening that fits all that?

PLC’in It Up – American Lit Style

Last Wednesday I participated in the second Professional Learning Community Day, where we start school two hours late because we are in a meeting discussing ideas for the common courses that we teach. The topic of this meeting was American Literature and I got the privilege of sitting in and commenting on the progress with these educators.

This meeting started out a little differently than the last one I went to, the PLC on 9th grade, because we all shared what we are doing in our classrooms currently. It was so awesome to make this the focus and the start of the meeting – our successes, what we are doing together, and how we can make each other better. It was awesome to hear how different the ideas were, but how they all came back to this question: relevance. All the teachers were making their content relevant to their students somehow, and usually it revolved around some type of technology too.

This meeting then moved into looking at end of the year goals for our PLC. Where did we want the students taking American Literature to be? How are we going to assess that? Where does that common text come from? It was really interesting to be part of a learning community that was struggling with these questions in a good and healthy way. One comment that I found really meaningful was this, “No one’s asking for the numbers yet, so let’s make sure that the assessment is still meaningful for us.” I know that many educators believe that the data they receive from state tests does them little to no good, besides chronicling school growth or lack of it. The educators I was meeting with were struggling with making the elements they were measuring realistic and beneficial to them in the classroom. It was a beneficial and helpful conversation to have, because the focus was not on school growth or even national growth – but it was on their students. How do we make education more effective for our students, in our classrooms? And finally, how do we do this together by collaboration? That was the discussion I was a part of and it was really cool and a privilege to be a part of.

We ended the meeting by updating the PLC website for AHS. Each PLC has a part on a website that will eventually be opened to parents and friends of the school to look at and see what their faculty discuss at each meeting. How cool is that? As a parent, if I knew that my son or daughter’s teachers were meeting about improving the education in their classroom that would make me excited. I can’t wait to see the reaction when the Beta version of the website goes live.

It was, once again, a successful and helpful learning activity in my growth as a future educator.

“I’m Not Going To Throw You the Life Jacket”

I can’t even imagine having a student teacher…the stress of watching him or her screw up time and time again and only hope that they get it right at some point. The strength to sit in the back of the class and hold back while a student teacher is going down the wrong path or letting the class be too disruptive. The amount of paper work to fill out, the very little pay, and to deal with a high stress situation – teaching someone else how to do what you do well: Teach. Well that and change that world.

That’s when last week it hit me though, Anne told me that she “was not going to throw the life jacket.” I had gotten into a little bit of a situation with my classroom management, you can read about it in other posts, but that she was not going to save me. She desperately wanted to, and I could see it in how she talked to me, but against everything she wanted to do – she is not going to. I would not learn anything if she came in, fixed the situation, and then handed the class back to me.

It was just a weird sense of isolation, recognition, and finally acknowledgment. She’s there to support me, both of my cooperating teachers are, but it is not their job to step in and save me. It’s mine. It’s my responsibility to fix, change, alter, and improve the education of the students in my classes.

In all reality, I don’t want to be saved, because I want swim. Although, the only way I learn how to swim is to sink a little at first. So thank you Anne and Kristin for holding onto the life jacket and letting me flounder, as hard as I know it is, because I am confident with your support and instruction that one day I will swim and swim well.

The Other Cooperating Teacher

Over the past few weeks you may have followed my journey throughout student teaching, but probably have not heard much about my other student teacher – her name is Kristin Leclaire. I took over her classes last, so if you are just returning to my blog or do not hear her mentioned much, that is why. Also Anne and I process the days verbally, although with Kristin it is more through written words.

Let me explain, Kristin is a writer, and a very good one at that. She sits in the back of the English 10 and American Literature classes taking notes, offering suggestions, and giving me feedback on my teaching. Then she e-mails to me the five, six, or seven page document of her comments from that day.

Kristin is an amazing teacher (so are you Anne). Both of my cooperating teachers have similar approaches to teaching, but a somewhat different styles of doing it. So it has been great to go to Kristin with my ideas and then go to Anne with other ideas and see how they react differently. It has been such a blessing to have two teachers, two sets of feedback, and two people to grow and learn from.

I also mentioned that Kristin is quite a prolific writer. She has been out of blogging for a while, but made her comeback with this post (click here). It is one of the most inspiring and fantastic pieces of writing I have read for a while. I really encourage you to take a look and get to know my other cooperating teacher.

The Lost Connection

I blogged a little earlier about missing the classroom management course, but then again the purpose of student teaching is to truly figure out some of that out for yourself. One thing I am missing, though, is a lost connection.

It is the connection between the knowledge I receive in the classroom by learning my content area, Language Arts, and the education courses I receive about dealing with BD students, TAG student, portfolios, and schools in general. How do I go from one to the other? The connection in the middle, how I actually teach what I know, is lost – it’s missing.

I know all these great things about poetry, English and American literature, grammar, writing, and a whole lot of other stuff that I was taught in my English courses at college. I also know all these things about how schools are structured, what BD and TAG mean (Behavioral Disorder, Talented and Gifted), and how to plan a lesson. My question, and maybe this should have been on the student teaching disclaimer form that I did not sign, is where do I connect this all? Where is the course on teaching poetry? Teaching American literature? Teaching grammar? I must missed that one. We have methods courses at Wartburg, but as a secondary education major I only took one of those. One course is not enough to cover everything that I will be teaching. Maybe that’s why we looked at the Best Practices in education, but still that does not help me out in two weeks when I have to teach poetry. I know what slanted rhyme is, I know structure, meaning, and the vocabulary to go with it, but where is the connection between that and my fifty-nine minutes in the classroom? Or am I supposed to figure that out as I go? Is that really the purpose of student teaching? Figuring out how to teach everything that I know? I guess to a degree that it is, but I would have liked to be more prepared to teach my specific content area. Help me make the connection between what I know and how I teach it.

Am I the only one experiencing the “Lost Connection?”