Monday, September 15, 2008

Teacher Talk

I hate to make this post all about teaching, you know Dave hears enough about it at home, but the fact of the matter is that school has started and, therefore, completely taken over my life.  In the states I had an outlet for this kind of obsession, it was called a team.  We all had the same kids, met everyday, worked together, and daily had the chance to share (some may say vent) the going ons of the day.

That is not so here.  I am my team.  It really can't be helped; our school is pretty small with only 200 or so kids for grades nursery to 12.  Every secondary teacher has five different subjects they are prepping for each day.  There really isn't time to talk over ideas, share discoveries, or spill the more shocking things kids do.  (You remember Alex, the kid who actually shocked himself?  Good times)

So, lucky you--you get to hear all about what is on the mind of an overseas middle school teacher.  I'll try to keep it short.

What I am loving right this moment:

**  Mechanically Inclined, by Jeff Anderson.  Best.  Book.  Ever.  I know that I am a certified English teacher and, therefore, should be a grammar goddess, right?  Wrong.  I hate teaching grammar and mechanics, it is my least favorite thing.  But, and I don't want to get ahead of myself here because I am only on chapter four, I think this book has changed all of that.  It is  absolutely wonderful, one of those books you read that makes you say, "Why have I never thought about this before?  It seems so obvious!"  

First off, Anderson is not a fan of the whole DOL (Daily Oral Language) program, otherwise known as the most annoying grammar program that can't be wiped clean from classrooms for some unknown reason.  You'll remember this, the teacher writes a sentence on the board that is so riddled with errors you don't know where to start first.  Then you have to share your corrections with the rest of the class and have all the errors you painfully missed pointed out in front of everyone.  Great lesson in humiliation, not so great for grammar.

As an alternative, Anderson suggests having students work with sentences that are absolutely grammatically correct.  The kids play around with the sentences, deciding why the word choice, punctuation, and word order make the sentence work.  Then they try to imitate the things they noticed in their own writing.  Brilliant, I know.  The book is full of lesson plans, ideas, quotes that you can implement in your class immediately.  Really, I feel like a Mechanically Inclined pusher.  If you teach upper elementary or secondary school, Read This Now.

What I am dreading right this moment:

**Outdoor School.  Oh boy.  Me, two other overworked teachers, twenty-one middle school students who have definitely stepped into the realm of puberty, and 96 hours of togetherness away from home?  If you don't hear from me again by Sunday, know that I loved you all.

See?  That wasn't so bad, was it?  I don't understand why Dave gets that glazed over look whenever I mention school...