Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Last Day at Roland Park

I thought I was going to teach through April 27th but Ms. Saar informed me this morning that next week the students have more standardized testing. I am disappointed because I won't have the opportunity to wrap up with the group I saw last week (day B kids) and hand back their plays in person, or have the party I had planned to. Instead I am going to drop off their corrected work next week and put it in Frankie's mailbox for her or Ms. Saar to hand out, but it isn't the same. I feel like I didn't get to know that group at all and it is a real shame because there were a lot of talented kids that I would've enjoyed getting to know.

So, I said goodbye to my day A kids today. I finished reading over their 2nd drafts last night and a couple of kids really did very very well. Not only did they complete the play, but some even had time to insert stage directions. I found the work of those select students (about 4) to be very impressive because not only did they successfully complete the task by adapting a fairy tale into a play, but also they showed me their creative abilities as writers and as imaginative thinkers. One in particular sticks out to me because this student included historical content by adapting parts of her play to take place in Nazi Germany. I later learned that this student is currently learning about WWII in another one of her classes, which showcases her ability to relate material across disciplines. Another student did a very good job showing and not telling in the way he characterized his protagonist. Each play was funny and smart and I was really proud of them. Everyone showed progress on their plays between weeks, which was great, however, some of course worked more on their play/ took it more seriously than others. Ms. Saar and I decided that the plays (finished or not) would count for a homework or participation credit. I went through my comments and assigned a couple of grades to those students I felt really excelled and the rest will be awarded by the discretion of Ms. Saar.

Because it was the last day, I thought it was best to play games, so we played the game chain fairy tale that I played with the other group last week. All of the kids enjoyed themselves, perhaps a little too much since some of the stories took turns that weren't totally appropriate for school. Frankie and I did our best to censor what we could. Two of the kids (not surprisingly two of the four strongest writers in the class) came up to me at the end and wished me luck on my upcoming graduation. It was really touching. For as troublesome as they could be at times, I really do think I am going to miss coming in and seeing the kids every week.

At the end of the period I stayed a couple of minutes late to debrief the semester with Ms. Saar and with Frankie. I thanked them for giving me the opportunity to teach and for lending out not only the kids to me once a week and letting me use the resources of the classroom, but more so for their continued mentoring and support over this semester. We all agreed that future Hopkins students participating in the teaching writing program should be schedule during the fall because the freak blizzard aside, there is just way too many disruptions in the school calendar--standardized testing (Ms. Saar said they keep adding more and more exams), my spring break and their spring break--to get anything grossly productive accomplished. Nevertheless, this was a learning experience, which is what I signed up for and therefore I am satisfied with how the semester turned out. I learned how to be flexible with my lesson plans, how to reassess my goals for the semester when due to extraneous circumstances, certain things were no longer reasonable to expect, how to work with difficult children early in the morning, how to curtail certain personalities/behaviors to make them akin to the classroom setting etc. I wouldn't trade my experience at RPEMS for anything and I feel very fortunate to have participated in such a unique opportunity during my last semester at Hopkins. I am not entirely sure if I am ready to switch gears and pursue a career in teaching, but I do know that I enjoy the challenge of it and genuinely get pleasure out of being a part of the learning process.

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