I read lots of inspiring educational blogs. I find them through Twitter, or other people's blogs. I also read lots of educational articles. All these wonderful things are happening in these other educators' classes. It both inspires and overwhelms me. I began my day reading the wonderful things that are happening in Rich Lambert's school. I was put to shame before I'd even had my breakfast.
I must confess that no one really learned anything in the past 75 minute period I spent with my Year 9s. I know that for a couple of reasons:
1. My feeling of despair as I charged around the room, vainly trying to keep abreast of what 19 kids were variously doing on their brand new free government issue netbooks.
2. I asked them at the end of the lesson. 'Put your hand up,' I demanded, 'if you've learned anything this period.' Shrugs. General uninterest. Resumption of various conversations that I'd briefly interrupted with my stupid question. One boy did say he'd learned how to create a Google account. Suppose that's something.
The teacher's aide - I have 3 integration kids in the mix - shuffled past me to get out the door early but the kids weren't going anywhere.
With about a minute til the bell, I asked students, as I do, to put their chairs up and stand behind their seats. I was blocking the doorway and shooing kids back to their places, because some try to barge past me and make a run for it.
Seeing that all the chairs are up, the desks are straightened and the rubbish generated by a class full of 14 year olds is in the bin, I release them. No one learned anything, but at least they left the classroom tidy.
The lack of learning resulted from a number of things:
1. New computers. I'm hoping the novelty will wear off, that we'll get a couple of decent routines happening and that I'll be able to teach the class.
2. It's a new year and the class dynamic hasn't found its level yet.
Another big problem for me this year is the texts that have been booklisted. Won't mention company names here, but a 'package' of texts, complete with hard copy dictionaries and thesauruses, was on the booklist. It seems to me that no one closely investigated these texts, back when booklist decisions were made. (That's a bother, isn't it?) The books include their own unique codes so kids can join an internet site and access the entire book and a couple of lame games on line. And of course, the texts are related to AusVELS.
You know what though? I'm not sure that my particular kids, who've reached age 14 with no real exposure to grammar, are going to see any benefit from being able to identify phrasal verbs, gerunds and the future perfect continuous tense. My throat closes over just thinking about it.