Lionel and I at Simonds High

Mar 23, 2016

I have debated with myself whether or not to blog about yesterday’s school visit. I usually write about how wonderful they are and how much I enjoyed them. Yesterday was a disaster as far as I am concerned and considering how many good ones I have had I suppose I was due for a stinker. I realize in the scheme of things and the horrific happenings in the world around us my experience visiting a grade nine classroom is nothing in the big picture. I am determined to let it go but first I will give voice to what it was that frustrated me about my day. First of all I will take the blame for being under prepared. As a teacher I know it is better to have an overly ambitious lesson plan. Usually I conduct writing workshops with a group of keen students hand picked by their teachers and even then I sometimes struggle with getting them to let go and write. So imagine a group consisting of a couple of keen students, lots of less than keen and some even bordering on whatever is the most opposite of keen . Add to that a difficult topic , open ended and vast and not conducive to easy expression. Then throw in an age and grade level I have little experience with except when I was that age and every bit as non-compliant as the most non-compliant student in the room yesterday. Then throw in cell phones. As an elementary classroom teacher I set up conditions in my classroom to maximize attention. All distractions were carefully managed. I found distractions were probably harder on me and my train of thought than on the kids. This has always been challenging for teachers. Debates over food, gum, hats. doodling, and many other distractions have always been part of classroom management. So to a teacher seven years away from the system, the cell phone challenge completely overwhelms me. I know the challenge of wrestling the I pad from my four and seven year old grand daughters. Technology has pushed its way into all of our lives. Last night at our after supper card game my son said “Mom this is family time , put your phone away.” Surely we must require our students to put their phones away. I am not judging the kids or the teachers I am just saying for me it is too much to try and compete with the attention a device in the hands of most of my audience takes away from my concentration . Next time I will prepare better for the age group and crowd I am presenting to and I will ask for the cell phones to be put down , put away and will try harder to completely engage the kids that sit in front of me.So with that said I will put Lionel, my Simonds High mascot back in the girls room and get back to work.
PS- I finally took the time this afternoon to read the writing some of the kids passed in to me at the end of their classes. As I always discover when doing writing workshops, there were some good writers in the group. Writing is a process and a personal journey through words. Thank you to the students who joined me in doing that yesterday.


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