My thoughts in snippets: news, Orwell, teaching, vision, audience

I have a presentation and a paper due tonight, as well as a quiz on grammar concepts. But I have write to focus. I was driveing my baby bro and a neighbor to school this morning, and unfortunately, because of a bad old habit, turned on NPR (Neocon Propaganda Radio). Inskeep was interviewing Ken Mehlman, the new chair of the RNC. The interview was spooky. I have been reminded of Orwell so many thousands of times in the last few years, but these few compact minutes really bring it home (again). They’ll have the interview up on their site if it’s not already there. At one point, Inskeep asked about Bush’s statement that SS ‘reform’ would be beneficial to blacks because they have lower life expectancy, and asked if that means that Bush is not planning on doing anything to raise that. It was a good question I think. And how is it that Mehlman proposes to ‘reach out’ to African Americans with Republican policies??? If he actually makes some gains in this, may be I’ll be declaring my love for Big Brother too.

In other news, I’m going to be teaching the Great Depression unit during student teaching. My cooperating teacher is encouraging me to do To Kill a Mockingbird with one of the three classes. It’ll be more work, but hopefully I can learn a little. The others will do young adult novels, or novels intended for even younger children, like the Newberry medal book, Out of Dust.

I’ve been thinking about employment next year. The absolutely worse thing I could do is to join a school where the leadership lacks vision. And no, “helping kids succeed” is NOT a vision. Unfortunately, of the schools I know, most are worried about patch work more than anything else. Where I worked last year, most people would articulate the ‘mission,’ if at all, in five paragraphs of very different statements. I think what they did over the summer to prepare the school for the next year was work on a to-do/wish list of items that teachers proposed at the end of year, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it’s poor leadership.

Lastly, looking at my own teaching, I realize the biggest missing component is my knowledge of my audience. This is a no-brainer for salesmen, writers, and presenters, but I think many teachers have a problem with this. I’m trying, as I observe the students I’ll be teaching in a few weeks, to see where they’re coming from, to understand their minds and their emotional state as they walk into class. I’m also looking for ways to do this at the beginning of next year. I know a lot of teachers give out surveys, which I think have their limits, because kids don’t reveal a lot through formal forms and canned questions. Of course a lot of this is a skill and a habit of mind, which I lack. Any suggestions are welcome.

5 Responses

  1. how the hell did you get time to write this? and this much too! and TODAY?!

    …will comment later when I have more time to read and reflect

  2. Salam
    it makes me wonder who NPR’s “audience” is. At my conservative university, we called it National Pinko Radio. I haven’t listened to it in years, but when I was in school it didn’t bother me too badly. I think it’s true what you say about knowing your audience when you teach. Nice post, macha Allah!

  3. Neocon Propaganda Radio! ha!
    Do you think its NPR in particular though? I can’t imagine other American news-sources being very different in their coverage…

    I’ve officially been off news since Monday. npr, google news alerts, all of it. and only two blogs today.

    Anyhow, about your teaching… I’m going to be really praying for you. This is one tough challenge as far as I can see. and I hope you succeed for the kids’ sakes. (and for your own; would like nice on a day of judgement report if you do, no?)

  4. ANNOUNCEMENT: I will not tolerate hate speech. That’s why I deleted the anonymous comment.

  5. cncz, pinko! heh :)I think on some social/moral issues, they are liberal. Often they’re okay about civil liberties issues too. But when it comes to foriegn policy in particular, they’re def neocon.
    thanks for visiting!

    mujahida, I found time because I had to focus. Wasn’t going to get anywhere otherwise. I agree, we all need to fast from news every few days.

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