Sunday, 18 September 2011

Fortuna Major Let Me In

Or if you prefer Dante to Harry Potter:
"It was the hour when the diurnal heat no more can warm the coldness of the moon,
Vanquished by earth, or peradventure Saturn, when geomancers their Fortuna Major see in the orient before dawn"

Last night, my wife attended her high school reunion.  Although I have yet to attend a high school reunion, I had considered attending my 10 year reunion (was a little too soon for my taste and a little too far away) so I had some idea of thoughts that might be coursing through her mind.  She`d be putting on that old favourite sweater that got lost at the back of the drawer;  it was comfortable and cozy back when you wore it regularly, but now it`s a little too tight, the stitching has changed and instead of recreating modern feelings of home, it can only evoke fond memories of those emotions.

In addition, I`m not sure if she could`ve kept me away if she tried.  There`s something providential about my first placement being at my wife`s alma mater.  I was going to be able to tour the school within which I`d finally be testing my teaching mettle.  It`s a strange feeling knowing that my first of four pre-practicum observation days is under two weeks away.  Gemini twin alpha is screaming, `how am I supposed to get my in class work done by the start of the teaching block` while beta is urging the coming 5 weeks to pass quickly.

So, while listening to stories of where lockers were and how much they had changed the school, I dipped my toe through the education student looking glass.  Within the math class, I saw the standard 4 x 8 grid of white-topped metal-legged desks.  Change the smart board for an overhead projection screen and it could`ve been my high school class.  I`m not saying this to be critical, since you work with whatever furnishings you`re given and with a large enough class size, options become limited.  But, I`d feel constricted in that room; I`d be as tethered to the smart board as students are to their desks.  The walking space was quite limited and for a heavy-set fellow like myself, so helping the student in C-6 (you sank my battleship) would be a challenge.  I`d need to rely solely on assignments, test scores and verbal responses for assessments ... and the possibilities for group work would be quite restricted.

Shortly thereafter, we wandered into one of the English classes.  Instead of the industrial grid pattern, the desks were arranged in 4 parallel columns with a wider center aisle and a backstop row.  No smart board in this class, but at least there was some walking space.  It seemed more conducive to group work (except for the back row) and there was more strolling room.  Individual assistance and assessment would be possible ... overall a slightly more conducive set-up for me.  Overall, things looked nicer until I looked up on the wall.

Step four of seven in the essay writing algorithm was a rough draft.  I remember the last conversation about rough drafts with a TA - it came shortly after expressing my dislike of  Given my feelings that beneath the happy surface of that service is an implication that I was guilty of plagiarism until proven innocent, I was investigating the `hand in your notes to prove your innocence` alternative.  The TA advised me that I`d need to turn in my rough drafts and barely avoided rolling her eyes when I asked her what a rough draft was.  Unfortunately, I write my essays by developing a skeleton, typing the essay while proofreading, and handing my final copy to my wife to take a quick glance.  Given that the final step only involves minimal changes, I don`t really consider my step two result as rough - especially since most of the final changes involve splitting up grammatically correct but clause-heavy sentences.  Her advice was to just hit save every so often so I`d have something to print.  Assuming that most students will choose the word processor option in lieu of the hand written version, I`m not sure that step four exists for most people.  At the same time, the other six steps work and having a misleading step four there could bring up a great conversation ... and having 1-3, 5-7 wouldn`t quite look right.

Overall, it seems that plus ca change ...  This visit gave me the opportunity to at least start thinking about classroom set-up in a more concrete manner.  In addition, I ended up one huge step closer to actually being there for real.  Plus, this might be my only change to teach history (with plans to change my first teachable to math along with hopes for my third placement), and as much as I love the more hiring friendly math option, history is just as wonderful.

1 comment:

  1. Roy, I just love how you blend your words and phrases. Another beautiful and well written post I read this weekend - take a look.