Sunday, June 19, 2005

Third Week

The third week is down. Things went well. The first-years have gotten into the rhythm of teaching and class. I've informally observed about one-third of them and, for the most part, I've been happy with where they are at this early stage of their teaching careers. Their official observations, with Dr. Rowland and Dr. Sullivan, will begin this week.

For the first-years July will be a slower pace than June and then August, when they start teaching, will make all of this look like vacation. It is impossible to describe how physically exhausting teaching is, especially during your first year when you have to generate all of your lesson plans and other materials from scratch. As we tell each incoming class we will prepare you as much as possible. Does this mean you will be fully prepared? Nope. Nothing can, because there are so many factors we can't emulate: six periods of teaching a day; disorganized schools and administrators; 30 kids in a class; overbearing parents; parents who are never there; and so many other things. All we can say is that there have been many in your shoes before you (including myself and Germain) so we know what it is like.

The first-years and the second-years seem to have really connected. There has been great turnout for all official and unofficial activities. This past week there was a game of ultimate frisbee, basketball (including the controversial player switch), a group movie night to see "Cinderella Man" and lunch at Newks. For those of you who haven't been to Oxford recently (or at all) Newks is a recently opened restaurant that serves pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and soup. It is fantastic and they have a nice deck that we reserved for Teacher Corps. Everyone stayed for about 2 hours and enjoyed a leisurely lunch.

Over the weekend many of the first-years went to their communities to spend the weekend with a second-year or alum who teaches in the same community. This is the first year that we have tried this (we are calling it "A Weekend with the Second-Years") so we should know how well it worked out on Monday. I'm sure the first-years will also be blogging about anything interesting that happened.

Ginny, our intern, continues to do a fantastic job. This past week she started working on two major projects. The first is finding contact info for our pre-1997 alumni. From 1997 on (once everyone generally started getting an email address) we have just about everyone's info. But from 1990-1996 we have very little contact info for alumni. Of the 200 alumni I would estimate we have some contact info for about 40 of them. To find these older alumni Ginny is pulling the original applications, checking their undergraduate institution, and then contacting that institution to see if they have current contact information. Her second major project is to contact administrators at all of the schools where we placed first-year teachers this past year. Over the phone she does a short survey of how our teachers compare to traditional-route first-year teachers. Once compiled this data should give us one more angle with which to asses our initial summer training and our program as a whole.

This is the last week of class for the second-years. I still don't think they realize how fast the program will go from here. To put it in perspective, after Friday the second-years will meet only six more times; five Saturdays in the fall and one in the spring. After those six meetings they will almost certainly never be together as an entire group again.

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