Monday, March 21, 2005

Artifact from a Bitter Teacher

As I was cleaning up in the yellow room for the impending visit from the sister-in-law, I came across some old teaching documents. I long-term subbed in the spring of 2001 for a teacher who taught eighth grade social studies and seventh- eighth-grade combined language arts. She was a bitter woman, which was sad, particularly because she was probably only in her mid-twenties. The main unit I was to teach for Language Arts was a project on The Diary of Anne Frank and/or Number the Stars. The project she had planned was outrageously huge (which I modified to a higher level of reasonableness):
You will demonstrate your knowledge by doing all of the following:
1. a social studies type display board
A. a story summary (typed)
B. any research and pictures you can find dealing with the novels
C. a time line
D. a map
E. anything else creative you can think of - facts about the holocaust

2. write a 25 question test and separate answer key to be exchanged with another group (typed)

3. give an oral report for the class (at least 10 minutes which will be timed) all members must participate - you may include facts about the holocaust

4. keep a journal
That's a little much. I replaced that with a choice of a presentation, a group journal, and an individual journal. I also added "Reading is a personal, individual activity, and everybody reads at different rates. Groups will meet daily to discuss their progress and to help members keep up with others. Smaller assignments will be given during the course of the unit. But what really got me was the bile dripping from the paragraph at the end of the assignment page:
This is your chance to teach each other by sharing what you have learned. You will have the next 3 weeks of class time to work with your group. If I see any time being wasted by chit-chatting, giggling, or other nonsense, I will give you other work and this entire assignment will be done as homework. You are to work with your group quietly and efficiently. Do not put things off until the last minute because 3 weeks will pass quickly and this project is worth 200 points (it will hurt your grade immensely if you fail and I don't want to have to explain to your parents why you did so poorly in L.A.) This is your chance to show me that you can handle not being spoon fed an an assignment like a little baby. You must have your entire project done by the due date - no excuses or you fail. If you are having problems with your group, so the project on your own and give them a bad evaluation. It is important as an adult to be able to work with a team to accomplish a goal.
Not surprisingly, she was cut during her maternity leave. She came back at the end of the day with about a month left in the school year and cleaned out her room. I had to finish out the year teaching in a blank classroom.

I kept this assignment sheet to remind me to not become a bitter teacher. I was a bitter laid-off teacher, but I think I got over that about month ago, during the state hockey tournament.


Blogger First Year Teacher said...

It is sad how many bitter teachers there are. Good for you for fighting the feeling. Your kids will be much better off for it.

2:12 PM  

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