So today was our first day of Institute, which is the intense, four week, training session where we essentially learn the basics of being good teachers. Things started off well considering I was up until 1 a.m. and had to wake up by 5:30 a.m. I am NOT a morning person.
Anyway, I wasn't nervous about the first day. We don't start teaching students until next week so I knew I wasn't up against anything I couldn't handle. For the summer, I am working at Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School in Washington Heights, NY. Ironically, it's less than three blocks from the school I will be teaching at in the fall. For the next few weeks, I will be co-teaching with four other corps members to help students increase their reading comprehension and other English-related skills. The title of this blog post will link you to a map of the school's location.
I think Teach for America is trying to get us back into the mode of being in lower school again. Not only did we get lunch boxes filled with sandwiches, chips and soda today, but they also transported us to our respective schools in un-air conditioned, yellow school buses. Oh the irony.
Today was filled with various discussion groups and other training sessions that focused on the basics of good teaching technique: setting big goals, being effective, etc. I found most of our discussions interesting and most of my fellow corps members had some interesting perspectives about setting goals.
Tonight, we had a session back at St. John's University where we learned how to diagnose student reading and reading comprehension. Again, it's an interesting process, but I'm starting to deconstruct the practices my lower school teachers used on me. HA! They thought they had me fooled. Now I know their secrets (sorry about the random outbursts, it's 10:40 p.m. and I'm about to go to bed -- yes, I am an old man now).
One of our activities today was to make a first draft of our vision for our classroom. I kept mine fairly simple: to create a 100 percent inclusive classroom environment where teacher, students and parents are engaged in the educational process; students should be able to recognize the major genres of literature, and 100 percent of them will reach their growth goals this summer.