Sunday, June 12, 2005

Second Week

The second week is in the books. Although it feels like we just started the first-years are one-quarter through the summer training and the second-years are halfway. For the first-years there is so much to cover. Ann is just about finished going over the basics of lesson planning, learning styles, assessment, etc. This week she will start with classroom management. As our alumni know, management is the key. Once you have that down you can teach the students whatever you want, but management is the base. Without it it doesn't matter how good you are at the other aspects of teaching.

The first-years have settled into the groove of student teaching in the morning and class in the afternoon. I've observed about one-third of the first-years student teaching. Overall I've been happy. A lot of the "veteran" teachers that MTC is in with are brand new themselves and have never taught before. This is good for MTC because they are more than happy to let our teachers do all of the teaching. While this creates a lot of work for our teachers in the short term, in the long term it is better that they start teaching in front of the whole class right away. The worst thing that the veteran teachers can do (besides not letting our teachers teach at all) is break the class into small groups and have each MTC teacher work with a group of four or five kids. This is not helpful because it is nothing like what our teachers will do in the fall.

Ann is doing a great job with EDSE 500. One of the best things about MTC is that we have great people working with us, both the participants in the program and the faculty who teach the classes. Ann has brought a lot of energy and creativity to the class and has them doing a lot of hands-on work that they seem to enjoy. It is impossible to cover everything our teachers need in such a short amount of time but, like Don Schillinger before her, Ann has done a great job of breaking down the first year of teaching to the essentials and then teaching those.

On Friday morning we broke the second-years into small groups. One group met with Dr. Mullins, one with Germain, and one with me. We talked about challenges and successes of the past year. In my group the general theme was balance: balance between work and home; balance between our optimism and other teachers' pessimism; balance between challenges and successes. One trend I've noticed about MTC teachers is that they are incredibly hard on themselves, morso than anyone else is.

The second-years are enjoying both of their classes: Ed. Research and Ed. Law. As many of our alumni will attest Ed. Research has not been a helpful class in years past. This year we have a new instructor, Dr. K.B. Melear, teaching the course and things seem to be going well. KB and I were able to sit down in the spring and plan out the course so that it would cover the required objectives and be useful to MTC. KB changed a lot of the coursework to make it relevant and then went to bat for us with the department chairs. Class seems to be going well and KB told me that everyday he looks forward to teaching the course because MTC teachers are such engaged students. That being said all classes are evaluated at the end of each semester so we will see how the scores and comments compare to years past.

Ed. Law is also going well. It is always one of our highest rated courses. Next year Ed. Law will be moved to the first spring semester, after Dr. Mullins' class, and the computer class will be moved to the second summer semester. We feel it is more helpful to have the computer class in the summer because of time and technology constraints for our teachers during the school year. We are still trying to find a way to get laptops for the teachers so if anyone has any ideas...

On Thursday afternoon the second-years beat the first-years in our weekly challenge. This week it was volleyball. We had a great turnout and games going on two sand courts. Next week is basketball. On Friday we had a group lunch with the first and second-years and faculty and staff at Taylor Grocery. Taylor Grocery is about 15 miles outside of Oxford, in the middle of nowhere. Some of the first-years were a little apprehensive (as I was the first time I went) as the place is country as hell, but a good time was had by all. Dr. Mullins, his son Andrew, Dr. Melear, and Ann were all able to make it. When I was not rearranging the seating I had a good conversation with Andrew, who is starting at Ole Miss in the fall.

Some of the first-years asked about t-shirts. Since the Class of 2002 we have given MTC t-shirts to all the participants, but not until January. The shirts have to be earned. Although I wasn't contemplating giving the shirts earlier the second-years insisted that they not be given until January when I asked their opinion.


Anonymous said...

How can you call Taylor the "middle of nowhere" when you taught in the Delta for two years? And "country as hell" could be much better used to describe many Delta towns. Taylor is actually really artsy, at least several of the "local Oxford" artists live in Taylor. Good luck with the rest of the summer, but watch yourself, Yankee. You wouldn't want to bias the new kids against Mississippi before they ever get a chance to love it for its many contradictions.

Ben Guest said...

No need to watch out for anonymous people; they're always hiding.