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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My School Year

I have been neglecting my blog for several months now. I keep thinking that I should write something, but it's been very hard to find the time and the energy for it. It has been a difficult year. I'm having to learn a very different teaching method, and there are times when I am not doing a good job of using it. I think that much of the problem lies in the shear amount of time that has to be devoted to doing everything that is demanded of me right. Take for example today. We have been directed to use data gathered from the last district test, called benchmark tests, to discover where my students need extra help. I have chosen to focus one unit on point of view. I chose to use a story titled "The Lesson" by the African-Americana writer Toni Cade Bambara. I chose it because the story is told from the first person point of view of a young girl, named Sylvia, who is about 10 years old. Sylvia and her friends live in a slum in Harlem where a woman named Mrs. Moore has taken on the responsiblility of educating the children who live there. The story provides a good tool for teaching 1st person point of veiw with an unreliable narrator. Sylvia dislikes Mrs. Moore's attempt to show the children how wealth is unjusty concentrated in the hands of a few by taking them to the famous F.A.O Schwarz toy store on 5th Avenue, Manhattan. However, the reader knows that Mrs. Moore has the children's best interest at heart even though Sylvia and some of the others resist Mrs. Moore's efforts. Among the tasks I have been given my teaching is to use various methods to "highly engage" my students. I have used several, but still, when it comes to doing the work of reading and responding, the students, like Sylvia, resist my efforts. I have tried to use formative assessments to determine how much my students really have learned about the objective, but I'm still not certain that they know what they need to know. On top of this, I still have to do the business of classroom management, attending workshops and meetings. Fulfill various committee responsibilities. So, I feel that no matter how much I do, I'm still not doing the job I'm supposed to do. What do I do?

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