A Shift in Perspective

I’m finding that my transition to high school is a little rougher than I expected it would be.

Now, let me be clear; I realize that I’m technically only five days into it.  I get that.  I also know that I can be particularly hard on myself; I expect – no, I demand – that I do well the things that I say I will.  I’ve probably not had enough time to make any kind of fair assessment as to how I’m doing, but that doesn’t stop me from looking critically at myself and wondering if I could be doing things differently or better.

The part I’m finding most difficult is the transition from teaching a course that meets two or three times a week to teaching one that meets every day for an hour and a half.  The pace of the course is, I think, the thing that has me nervous; I’m not feeling as though I’ve done a spectacular job getting the kids hooked, and I’m worried that things are going to get boring fast because the class is too slow.

I suspect that a good part of my anxiety is due to the fact that I haven’t yet made the shift from college teacher to high school teacher.  Since *I’M* a little bored with taking three days to go over the idea of pre-writing, I’m afraid that my students are, too.  I’m used to doing a commando run through the “writing process” lessons and getting straight to the practice of the thing, and stretching the material out over the course of days instead of giving it a quick, ten-minute run at the beginning of the second class is something I’m having to get used to.

I have to remember, though, that unlike my college kids, my high school students are seeing this kind of thing for what may well be the first time.  I did notice a couple of light bulbs go off over some of my students’ heads the other day when I asked them to think about HOW they write; the practice of self-examination and self-inquiry is something, it seems, they’ve never been asked to do, and I think that some of them are really getting into it.  I’m not sure they’ve ever given much thought to the idea that they DO go through a process when they sit to write (or when they plan how to tell a story to a friend, or when they try to convince their parents to let them do something), and pointing that process out to them – and having them actually see it in themselves – is a very valuable thing to do when one is trying to teach students how to write well.

I have a pacing problem, I think, and Im going to need some time to figure my own rhythm out.  I’m not worried that I’m going to have an uprising of bored students demanding my resignation anytime soon, but I also don’t want to overestimate how much time we need to spend on any given topic.

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3 Comments

Filed under about writing, concerns, critical thinking, self-analysis, Teaching, winging it

3 responses to “A Shift in Perspective

  1. I think I would have much trouble with pacing in teaching a high school course as well. I’ve been accustomed to teaching material in a 1 or 2 day a week format forever. Perhaps, alternate lecture days with workshop days?

  2. I think I’ve said this before, so forgive me if I’m about to repeat myself.

    You need to vary things not just from day to day, but also within each class period. My cooperating teacher during my internship CONSTANTLY pounded into me that I need at least three different things to do each day in order to keep the students’ attention – and I had periods that were 20 minutes shorter than yours.

  3. I do not know; in many ways, it is the same as what you did in college; explain it once with examples then give them some practice; I like to tell students that the best way to learn is to do it. I am excited for you. They are getting a great teacher. Think of one class meeting as two if you were teaching at your college, especially if you are meeting for an hour and a half. My classes meet a few times per week for 80 minutes.

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