Monday, November 23, 2009

Demonstration lessons

We've had the same long-term sub, Jill, for English for the past four weeks. But although she can sort of keep her classes semi-civilized (no easy feat with our crew), our principal isn't crazy about her pedagogy. They actually had Jill teach a formal demonstration lesson one day last week, and I didn't even realize it was a demo lesson, which isn't good -- you should really pull out all the stops and at least attempt to teach an amazing lesson when you're being observed.

Since then we've had two other potential candidates come in and teach demo lessons. And none of this one period in-and-out stuff -- Mitchell makes them teach ALL DAY LONG ("Is he trying to drive candidates away!?" one of my colleagues asked). Last week, when Juan, the discipline administrator, was observing, the kids were well-behaved, of course. But I was in the class that afternoon when he wasn't there, and the kids were terrible -- they wrote false names on the name cards he handed out, called across the room, yelled out, horsed around. They treated the guy as if he was a sub, and you know how badly seventh graders tend to treat subs!

But at least that guy soldiered on and completed all his lessons. This morning we had another candidate, a woman, come in to teach her demo lesson all day long. I wasn't in the room when it happened, but according to one of the other teachers, she had such a hard time that in the middle of her lesson this morning, she ran out of the room saying, "I can't do this!" and sobbing. (!!!) I'm telling you, these kids are a tough group. I'm lucky that before I was hired, I was only asked to teach a demo lesson to a group of four students. The only time I taught a demo lesson to a whole class was last Jaunary at a charter school in Brooklyn, and let me tell you, those kids were as good as gold. I did the name card thing, too, and they all put their real names; they were so quiet; they paid attention; they listened. I'm sure it was because half a dozen bigwigs were in the back of the room observing me, but I'm still glad. If it had been a horrible experience, I would've been terrified ever to teach a sample lesson again.

I have to hand it to the long-term sub we have now for math: Nicole came in last week and taught demo lessons for two days in a row, all day long, without pay, and then they finally offered her the long-term sub position, with the understanding that if the administration likes her, they'll hire her full-time come January. So far I like what I see -- she sticks to clear lessons that follow the basic lesson plan of modeling, guided practice, and independent practice. And she relates to the kids well, despite their behavioral challenges. It's much harder to find an experienced, certified math teacher mid-year than it is to find an experienced, certified English teacher, so I predict they'll end up hiring Nicole permanently.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Thanksgiving. Would you consider posting an update on Nicest Guy in the World?