I had my first day of observation at Upper Dublin High School today, and I have to say that it felt great to be back in a classroom, even though I wasn’t the one teaching. I’m doing my observations with a 10th grade honors English class and an 11th grade track 2 English class. I’m not used to the term “track” when it comes to schools because when I was in high school there weren’t tracks, and when I was working at the charter school there definitely weren’t tracks, there were just two sessions that were made by age and grade level. I learned today that track 2 basically means a group of students who are on their way to college. I also found out that UDHS has a 98% graduate to college rate which I find amazing. I also find it amazing just how engaged the students were in class today.
This morning for when I was observing the honors class, the teacher had each student take out a piece of paper and start writing the Pledge of Allegiance and they were to keep passing their papers so everyone in the class would write one word per paper, and everyone was able to participate. The students absolutely loved it and they were so engaged, noticing other peoples errors, laughing nicely with each other not AT each other, and just having a great time. They went over the mistakes they saw for only a few minutes, and then the teacher showed them a clip of The Jimmy Kimmel Show when he went to the streets to ask people to say the Pledge. It was great to see their reactions because they saw that they weren’t alone in not knowing the Pledge; I had to really think to myself how the Pledge goes too. Then the teacher did a short quiz on citizenship (not graded), which is what they went over the previous day. The reason she did this is because I believe she’s going to be doing a writing project with her students in regards to citizenship later on.
The 11th graders had computer lab today which was interesting to observe. This summer they each had two books to read, and they’re typing logs on the books. Today they had to pick a quote from one of the books and log about what it meant to them, how it spoke to them. Some of the students were very nervous. There’s this one student Steven who was very nervous that his work wasn’t good enough, and from what I saw, he’s an amazing writer. He is extremely eloquent, but so nervous about getting his work up to SAT standards. Mrs. Kaplan told me later (after I mentioned this) that she had to reassure him that these logs didn’t have to be SAT quality, that he shouldn’t worry about spelling or punctuation. What I liked seeing with the students is the freedom they had in what they wrote, and even what they didn’t write. There was one boy who was just having an off day and couldn’t think of anything to write. Mrs. Kaplan gave him the freedom to not write. In the end, he wrote, but he seemed to feel the need to reassure that he’s not normally like that and that he loves to write.
It was nice to be able to walk around and sit with the 11th graders, especially Steven, and to reassure that it’s ok if you don’t think your writing is good enough, and it’s ok to be nervous.