Thursday, February 10, 2005

High expectations

This week marked the beginning of the real work. Assignments are now coming due, midterms are being discussed, and groups are forming.

I've fallen in quite closely with most of my classmates, but a few stand-out. I'm closest with other social studies students—geographers, historians, and the like—though I've fallen in with a few lit&language types as well.

One of the key ideas that stuck with me this week was the value of setting and maintaining high expectations for students. Our curriculum planning teacher is a former teacher and principal at the primary level and he is the classic primary teacher: gentle, warm, friendly, and strict. He seems to be slipping in thoughts about the value of leaning on the kids a little more than I have thought to do before.

I think there's a muscle metaphor to be carefully used here. If you don't push students hard they aren't going to grow, but they can't all be pushed the same way and to the same extent, so it becomes a dangerous game to play. But I have to admit that I'm seeing myself as being more severe than even I would have expected.

On the volunteering front, I have begun a new semester at LCI with grade 11 American History first period and grade 11 Travel and Tourism second. I have been volunteering once a week at Lakeshore Collegiate Institute for two and a half years (and I might get more into that experience sometime down the road). I'm very excited about the first period class both because of the teacher—a highly regarded senior teacher who is quite vocal and happens to be the union rep for the school—and the subject matter. I need to take a half credit of American History at Ryerson this summer and I will need to pass the New York State teacher exams which ask a great deal about American and New York State history. The T&T course is run as a geography course with more of an applied bent to it. It is being taught by a first year teacher in her first semester so I'm very excited to see how she handles things—this is a rare opportunity that I am not going to miss out on.