martedì 26 ottobre 2010

writer's block a good thing to get when you've just restarted a blog. Also when you have to write a personal statement for grad school applications. And when you really would like to get back on the fiction-writing horse (which for me is a bareback bucking mustang. Or catatonic). I told myself I needed to write something today, though, so here I am.

In school, I am finding that my responsibilities are multiplying in my second year, which makes perfect sense given that I now have 8 months additional experience. I assign homework in one class now, and in another I have begun to interrogare, or give oral tests in class. This all makes me feel very Real Teacher-like, which is nice, since I hadn't expected my role to change very much.

Given that I have 12 classes plus 2 at the classics high school down the road, I've been exposed to a great variety of students and volontà to learn. Today I started thinking about what makes a "bad class," whether that's ever a fair name. One of my fifth year classes at the technical institute where I teach gives me more trouble than any of the others. One the first day of lessons, the kids were rowdy, talked over one another, spoke only in Italian, didn't pay attention to anything I said. One boy, when I asked him what he did over the summer, told me, "I dreamed Rachel every night." Another told me that a girl in the class hates America, though the girl denied it. For the rest of the lesson he glared at me and the space in front of his desk. They threw pencils across the room, carved initials into their desks. I had to circle the class like a teaching-assistant bird of prey, descending on the distracted kids.

But the more time I spend with the class, the more I realize that independent students are not cattivi and are not hopeless. As a group they are casinisti, no doubt. But some of them try. And those that don't, when I corner them and help them answer a question, they try too. Like when they have to explain the meaning of a word in English, first they say Non lo so, prof, dai but with my hints and help they figure it out in Italian. Then of course there's the Ma non so spiegare in inglese, I don't know how to explain in English, which I pretend not to understand. Come on, I say, give it a try. You can do it. And they try, and they do. It's such a tiny victory, just one word and one definition in English, but to me today it felt big. Which makes me wish I could spend an hour with each of them, pushing them along until they figure out how to move forward by themselves.

Bah. Maybe with some more experience I will figure these dilemmas out. For now I'm just a fledgling myself, trying to wing it.

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