How Teaching Went

Do you remember that a noun is a person, place, or thing? Or that a pronoun is a generic thing which replaces a noun? I thought my students would. I mean they're in school every year. They have grammar every year. I figured the basic parts of speech would be a cinch. They weren't. They had to identify nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. If they did that at a 90% rate, we would skip that chapter in grammar. No such luck.

I teach two 10/11 grade English classes and one 8/9 grade English class. They were fun classes to teach today. I enjoyed them. But they were a lot of work. We hurried through a diagnostic test of grammar, an intro on how to do their vocabulary homework, and an intro to their lit. In the older class they got a 200 year overview of Early American Literature. In the younger class, we read the first chapter of The Red Badge of Courage. In my older classes I got through everything I planned on my syllabus. Without a second to spare. In the younger class I completely missed covering the handouts. This was supposed to take us half an hour. I am not sure how I will squeeze it in on Wednesday, but I need to.

Since I subbed for these classes last year and often got groans from students about different sorts of problems, I have tried to avoid them in class this year. I hope that I am successful.

One of the problems was that they had too much in class time to work on their schoolwork. They certainly don't have that this year. We're going through four English subjects (lit, writing, grammar, vocabulary) every day in an hour and a half. And we are covering a bunch of stuff. I don't have a second to spare in these classes for anything.

Another of the problems is that the writing program had become too formulaic. It was considered a good paper if it had two of these, three of those, and four of the other, in each paragraph. That's not what the program is intended to do or how it is intended to work, but it is very easy to fall into that. I am trying to cover the information that most of the kids have had so many times they could do it in their sleep because some of the kids are new to the program. But I need to have the program be interesting too. It's been a challenge. I spent fourteen hours watching videos and then about that amount going through the exercises and books trying to figure out what I needed to do.

I am still not convinced that I hit the right mix for new and old students, but I've done the best I know how. We're all going to have to work with that.

I have one student who catches any and all mistakes. I cut and paste something out of one class for another class and then added work to it without reading through the whole paste. So I ended up saying that nice (which is an adjective) was a verb. K- called me on it.

I have another student who is paranoid about everything. Does the diagnostic count against us? Do we have to do all the exercises? What book is most important? When are we supposed to answer the questions for chapter one, because you didn't give it to us for homework?

While those students will probably not be my favorites (even though I had the second in a creative writing course and she was a joy), I am excited about the classes and what I am teaching. I enjoy teaching.

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