A Lesson Learned

Well, I finally had the chance to present my lesson to the English class that I’ve been observing for the past few months. Previously, I thought I was going to be presenting to the 10th grade class, but they’re working on speeches, so I presented to the 11th grade class. My mentor teacher turned the room over to me, I was excited and ready, and now I’m not sure where things went wrong. We talked about short stories, and the students told me some of their favorites, and the ones I never heard of, they were ready and happy to tell me what they were about. I thought we were off to a great start. I handed out copies of The Monkey’s Paw to them (some of them read it before, but a lot didn’t) and since they enjoy reading aloud, I thought “why not ask for volunteers to read?” I got the volunteers and we were off! Things were still going well. I saw the students following along; we talked about the first part of the story when it was finished because some of them had questions about what was going on. This is when I started to realize that things weren’t going as well as I had hoped. While they started on the second part of the story, I noticed two students sleeping and one was on his cell phone. Okay. I wasn’t going to let that get to me. Then we broke up into groups to do the collaborative short story. A lot of them had fun with it which made me really excited, but there were still the ones I noticed who weren’t very into it. One flat out refused to switch papers with his group, so the people in that group had to write their own conclusions on their own paper. That’s fine, I didn’t know what that student was going through that day – he could have been having a really bad day. One student didn’t write at all, while one in his group was having a great time writing, and the last person in the group didn’t start her writing until it was time to switch to write the body of the story. I felt defeated.

How do I engage a student who blatantly doesn’t want to do something? How do I do this without calling him or her out on everything in front of the class, or even talk to them at their desk about it, when I’m not their teacher? 

I allowed this lesson to defeat me for two days. I switched majors during my years as an undergrad because I had a teacher tell me I would be a horrible teacher. When I taught for the seven years I did, I felt like I beat that teacher, that I showed him that I AM a teacher and I always will be a teacher. I allowed his voice to echo through my head and call me a failure, which I’m not. Regardless of the fact that I taught before, I’m still new and I’m still growing. There are obviously many things I would change about this lesson, and the first being changing the class time from one day to two. It is absolutely a two day lesson. I would have explained more to the students. I wanted them to focus on the description, and how description can make or break a story, but if I don’t explain that well enough, how are they supposed to know? 

Regardless of the mistakes I have made, after talking with my mentor teacher, and my teacher for my 605 class, I’m not a horrible teacher, I’m human and I made mistakes which I have absolutely learned from. I know what to look for in my own lessons right now. I’m learning how to make assignments more broad so the students have the freedom to write without parameters. 

This was a hard lesson to learn, but I’m glad I learned it. 



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2 responses to “A Lesson Learned

  1. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t reach your students as well with this lesson as you were hoping for. I know my teacher mentor mentioned to me that her students would have difficulty being engaged and attentive if they didn’t think the class I was teaching them would be graded/ relevant to the subject they were learning otherwise. I think especially with 11th graders this may have caused an issue with participation for you. I think the Monkey’s Paw is a great story choice– maybe if you are delivering this lesson again to a similar age group you can find a Simpson’s, Family Guy, or other cartoon clip to share with them? I’m certain that the monkey paw concept is referenced explicitly in those two shows, and I’m sure there are others– and I believe that you are absolutely a teacher, anyone who truly wishes to advance they’re own skills in order to inspire students is a true teacher– the professor who discouraged you, I would say, is the one who should not be a teacher.

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