Fier Thy Words

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April Fools: Spring Hits Syracuse

4/1/08

syracuse.jpg

I put some seriously thought into writing a long entry about something completely fictional, you know, like I found out I’m passing math (which to date I actually am) or I woke up realizing I’ve had a secret love for the Yankees all my life, but I couldn’t come up with anything worthwhile.

I actually tried to have a little bit of April Fool’s fun in school this morning. When one of my students walked in, I told him he needed to clear his desk and prepare for a pop quiz, however his general lack of interest (which the entire class seems to share) made it tough to surprise them or ‘fool’ them, so that plan was quickly aborted.

I could have sworn weather.com was messing with me when I woke up, because the temperatures outside in Syracuse were expected to approach 60 degrees.

Considering today is the first day of April, that probably doesn’t sound like anything special, however let me put this into some context for you:

Syracuse, located in the very lovely geographic location of Central New York, gets two types of seasonal weather, along with a week here and there of something else.

In relation to the school year, the end of August through early October is very hot, and very much summer. For maybe a week or two in October, we get something that resembles fall, with temperatures dropping into the somewhat comfortable 50’s. From The end of October through the end of March (and even into April), the bitterly cold Winter descends upon us, and it’s generally rather unforgiving.

Last year for example, the middle of April brought us a foot of snow.

This past winter, which the calendar would claim ended two weeks ago, gave us a reasonable amount of snow (winter last year was worse in terms of snowfall), however temperatures were consistently hovering below 0, and waking up before the sun came up and driving my icebox of a car to school for the last month was always an adventure.

When April rolls around, the expectation is warmer temperatures and the disappearance of snow comes as sort of a prerequisite.

However that’s rarely been the case since I’ve been a student here.

In three years here, I can count on one hand the number of beautiful spring days I’ve been able to experience.

I’m talking about a 65 degree day, with the sun out, no rain or humidity.

I’m talking about wearing shorts and long sleeves, and having a breeze blowing just strong enough to make you think twice about MAYBE throwing on a sweatshirt.

Not in Syracuse.

Today, as I said, the forecast called for temperatures in the high 50’s.

Now on the plus side, at noon, my computer was telling me that it was actually 61 degrees outside.

Unfortunately, those 60 degree temperatures were accompanied with overcast skies and humidity that screamed “rain is on the way”.

Making it worse, the forecast for tomorrow calls for the temperatures to drop back down to around 40, with *GET THIS*, early morning snow.

So while I was unable to really make anything of this April Fools day, Mother nature clearly did her best to take advantage of it.

Walking around campus without a jacket on for the first time since baseball season ended is something I don’t plan on getting used to.

It’s April, it’s Syracuse, and the only fool today would be me for thinking I haven’t seen the last of winter.

Oh the joys of upstate New York.

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April 1, 2008 Posted by | Personal, Student Teaching, Thoughts | 1 Comment

Mr., Your Clothes Don’t Match

3/13/08

I think I’ll always remember today as the day I went from part-time student teacher to Mr. Fier.

Today was a big day folks.

Not only was I observed by my professor for the first time since I started teaching, but my host teacher was out sick, meaning the classroom was all mine, and the spotlight was shining bright.

I woke up earlier than I normally do, and waking up at 6:30 now that we pushed the clocks ahead last weekend means it is as dark outside when I wake up as it is when I go to bed.

This morning, before leaving for school, I was nervous for the first time since I started. I knew I was being watched by the person responsible for passing me and sending me to my full time assignment next semester, but I was doing so without the safety net that is my host teacher.

Blame it on nerves, or maybe a one day lapse in fashion sense, my outfit today (which when I left looked fine) apparently was as coordinated as two blind drunks trying to dance with one another.

Blue blazer, pink shirt with purple stripes (for those of you with me on New Years, the shirt I wore that night) and a purple tie with pink circle things on it.

In hindsight, striped shirt and dotted tie was mistake number one, the navy blue blazer didn’t really mesh well with the shade of purple the tie had, and to top it off my pants were a dark beige.

I know that must sound atrocious in print, however in person it really didn’t look bad.

Last time I trust my own judgment at 7:15 in the morning.

We’ll get back to that a little bit later…

I worked hard in preparing a lesson for my students that would demonstrate to my professor the progress I was making, and I thought I did a pretty solid job.

The kids not only did their work, but didn’t give me much of a hard time doing it.

There were a few tense moments for me, whether it was my professor pacing around the classroom during group work trying to help the kids finish their guided notes (fill-in-the-blank notes), the handful of kids who only get work done with their ipods on, and the girl who upon hearing the student she was paired with shouting out, “ahhh fuck, not him”- with my professor sitting right behind her.

Normally, I don’t mind if a student swears, as long as its nothing offensive and nothing graphic, however I felt as though every little thing I was doing was being picked apart, so I had to get mad at this girl, marking the first time in over 2 weeks I’ve raised my voice.

But things were going well, students were actually responding to me better than they normally would my host teacher, which was a good feeling.

However in the middle of the students doing their group work, one girl randomly shouts out to me

“hey Mr.- you know you’re clothes don’t match?”

I played it cool, saying something like…”well, I tried”

Another student said to me, don’t listen to her, she’s crazy, which made me feel a little better)

I thought the issue was dead, until my second class of the day, when a student was staring at me, and told me that without the blazer, he’d give me thumbs up, but with it, thumbs down.

So i stopped the class and pointed out to everyone that “it was brought to my attention my clothes don’t match today. I apologize, and will try harder on Monday”

The whole thing made me laugh, and the kids all seemed to have fun with it, poking fun at me in a light way.

The best part of the day came in that second class, when a student from my first class who didn’t feel like showing up to his scheduled class at that time, referred me as his favorite teacher.

Maybe he was exaggerating, as it has only been 2 weeks, but he is one of a large handful of students I’ve developed a great rapport with, joking around and actually using to help me get the rest of the class to do what I ask.

It was a great feeling, and between being told that and getting made fun of for my fashion fopaux, for the first time I felt like to some degree (and pardon the corny cliche) I felt like I had made it.

My professor told me that aside from a few issues with the content itself I was presenting, she thought I did a great job, and made specific mention to how well I’m able to handle my students.

Tomorrow I’m taking pictures of everything from my school to my classrooms, hopefully some of my kids and of course myself in action (outfit pending) so I’ll make sure to post those if you’re wondering what it’s like for Mr. Fier at Henninger High School.

March 13, 2008 Posted by | Student Teaching | Leave a comment

Catching Up

3/10/08

Ok, so if you haven’t heard by now, I had my Spring Break taken away from me this year thanks to the Syracuse University School of Education.

I am part time student teaching right now, and because my kids aren’t off from school again until the middle of April, and because the kids are in school, I have to be in school, regardless of my schedule.

And while being completely alone up here since Thursday night hasn’t been ideal, it also hasn’t been half as bad as I was expecting.

Saturday I went to the basketball game at the dome (which we won) with a fellow teacher-to-be, my man Frank-the-tank, or as I have started calling him, Francis (even though his given name is in fact Frank).

Friday and Saturday night I had dinner with Rossy and his girlfriend (Saturday night his dad took us all out to a really nice steakhouse, which was a really unexpected treat).

So having him around kept me sane through most of the weekend.

Sunday was pretty much status quo for me, as I woke up late, watched TV and went foodshopping at Wegmans. The only difference there was that I usually go with my roommate Matt (and occasionally Mike too) but this time I was shopping for myself, by myself.

And i still managed to spend 80 dollars on food for the week. Nice job, fatass.

Today was back to work, up at 6:45 while my roommates were both comfortably sleeping in their beds at home, presumably with several more hours before they saw the sun.

I’ve been out in the field (the fancy term they use, which makes me sound like I belong on CSI as opposed to in the classroom) now for almost 2 weeks, and so far things couldn’t be going better.

I really like all 3 of the classes I teach, and while responding to Mr. Fier is still taking some getting used to, the kids all seem to really like me, probably because I am yet to find the strength within to get mad at them.

My host teacher is great, and has allowed me to take full control of the classroom which has been great.

I thought that once I started doing some actual teaching I was going to be nervous or anxious but I’ve felt nothing to be comfortable and calm, probably because of how easy my job has been so far.

***UPDATE***

I’ve unbelievably lazy with my blog since spring break started (haha get it?)

…but seriously

However, I overheard a conversation today which was definitely blog worthy, and just reinforced to me how funny kids can be.

Without naming names, one of the boys in my class today was telling my host teacher about how he hot himself suspended for 3 days.

What did he do you ask?

He was caught feeling up a female student.

Upon being caught, the teacher who witnessed everything pulled him aside and bluntly said to the kid, “how would you like it if I just stuck my hand in your pants and grabbed your penis?”

His response?

“well, I’d probably like it”

I don’t know if that translates as funny in print as it did in person, however I was practically in tears laughing, and even writing up the story again now I’m still struggling to hold back laughter.

My host teacher and I both agreed that his suspension probably should have been cut down a day for the answer he gave.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Another story, not as funny but equally as surprising was hearing that two kids were caught having sex in a stairwell a few weeks ago, and since then the boy was suspended and the girl hasn’t showed up in school.

These stories would be the highlight of my day but I enjoy myself for all of the 3 hours I’m teaching, as I have been lucky enough to be placed with not only a terrific host teacher who is…well…teaching me a whole heck of a lot when it comes to procedures and classroom management…but I’ve also been lucky enough to get 3 classes with some of the funniest kids (mind you, they’re between the ages of 14 and 17) who crack me up and make my job all the more enjoyable.

I never thought I’d say this but I honestly cannot wait until I start teaching full time, because if I have half as much fun then as I’m having now (and in between all the fun there is a lot of work that does get done, then I’ll be all set.

Let the countdown begin.

March 11, 2008 Posted by | Student Teaching, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My First Week

2/29/08

3 days down, 27 to go.

Don’t be misled by my countdown, my first week wasn’t bad at all, and my outlook on teaching is nothing but positive.

While my first week (or half week) consisted of nothing more than observing my host teacher and getting comfortable with the format of his lessons, all in all I can look forward to the next 6 weeks and know that theres a better than good chance I’m still going to love teaching when its over.

The 3 different classes I’ll be teaching have got to be a collection of some the schools  worst behavioral problems.  One kid I was told just got back from a suspension for taking part in an altercation last week.  My host teacher told me the story went something like this:

The kid was waiting on the lunch line, while the kid in front of him, wearing a hoodie, started “talking shit” about a friend of the the first kid.  Without hesitation, the first kid took the kid wearing the hoodie, and in the exact words of my host teacher “pulled the hood over his head and beat the living shit out of him”.  When a friend came to try and help, he also had his ass kicked.   So if you’re keeping track, one kid pretty badly beat up 2 other kids, resulting in his suspension.

I had a chance to meet this kid today, and I gotta say, after spending a little bit of time with him, he was polite and very nice to both me and my host teacher, so I couldn’t believe the story about him, however I saw the referral slip for him last week so I know the story is true.  Should be interesting.

Anyway, the three classes are filled with kids who don’t pay attention, talk to one another while my host teacher is speaking, curse at one another as well as at my host teacher, wear blue-tooth head sets in the middle of class, listen to their ipods and openly text message their friends, while showing up late and leaving early as they please.

Yea, those are my kids.

Despite all of that, and they will certainly be a handful, these kids are funny.  I can definitely work with funny, because there was never enough fun in the classes I was in, and I know for sure I want to make sure that every class I ever teach is overflowing with humor.  So in that regard, I should be able to get a head start on developing the sort of teacher-student rapport nice and early.

While I had nothing to do when I was observing, there 3 days were hardly uneventful.

On my very first day (Wednesday), I was covering my host teacher’s hallway duty.  This meant that for a little more than an hour, I literally just sit in the middle of an empty hallway with nothing to do.  My host teacher told me to bring in any school work I had to pass the time.  But keep in mind I’m totally isolated, because about 15 minutes into the period, the fire bells started going off.  Not only that, but the doors at the end of the hallway automatically shut, and at that moment somebody came over the loudspeaker saying the following”

“All students and teachers must evacuate the building immediately”.

Shit.

First day, and the school is either burning or one of these kids brought in a weapon.

Additionally, it was no warmer than 15 degrees outside, so after I finally made it to my host teachers classroom to grab my jacket (despite the fact I had no idea what was going on while running through the halls of an unknown building) I had to stand outside for another 15 minutes just waiting to find out there was a malfunction with the bell system.

In hindsight, had there been somebody with a gun, god forbid, they would’t have had everybody running outside, however the unexpected bells and words evacuate immediately were hardly comforting on my very first day.

However, it ended up being nothing more than some issues with their fire alarm, and so all was well and my first day was otherwise a walk in the park.

Second day I had 2 classes to observe, and towards the end of the first class, once again the fire alarms starting sounds, and an announcement to evacuate the building came over the loudspeaker.

Thinking there was no way the same thing would happen two days in a row, I decided not to bring my hat and gloves into the building and now had to stand outside for another 15 minutes, with my shaved head and nothing covering it in temperatures which felt like -4.  NEGATIVE FOUR.

Needless to say there should be no surprise that as I sit here I feel miserable, sniffling and sneezing with a sore throat.  And much like Scott, if you ask me nobody has ever felt as sick as I do right now.

Today was completely uneventful, although when I walked out of my building weather.com said it felt like -12 outside.  And I believe it.  My windshield  was covered with a sheet of ice, leaving me with no ability to see.

This probably should have stopped me from driving to my school, however I made it 3 or 4 blocks before pulling over and realizing I was going to hit something or somebody if I don’t scrape off the ice.

Other than that, today was painless, and I’m pretty sure I’m good to go come Monday morning when I’ll be stepping in front of the classroom for the first time and getting some actual work done.

Next week actually shouldn’t be bad at all, as Monday the kids have a half day so I’m only with each class for 40 minutes as opposed to 80, while Wednesday and Thursday my classes will all be taking the unit exam, meaning thats two less days I have to worry about.

All in all, I feel good (not physically) about how things are going to go this semester, and I look forward to sharing all of the exciting stories which take place over the next 6 weeks, when from 8-11, I’ll be Mr. Fier, which personally is a title I don’t really go for, as I would much rather the students just call me Adam, but I’ve had it drilled into my head that being professional is priority number one.

The one other aspect I want to point out is how massively my sleeping schedule has already shifted, two nights ago I was in bed in asleep before 11, and last night I got into bed at 9:27 and was passed out by 10:15.   And while I don’t mind staying up late, I really do LOVE getting to bed early, so if nothing else I might actually start gaining sleep as opposed to losing it which is what I was afraid would happen.

And now I’m going to go spend the next 2 and a half days back in bed, working towards feeling good come Monday morning, when I get my first real taste of what teaching is all about.

February 29, 2008 Posted by | Student Teaching | Leave a comment

And So It Begins…

2/26/08

Today marks the end of an era.

When I wake up tomorrow morning, I take my first steps into the new world that is my career as a teacher.

For the first 2 and half years here at Syracuse, my classroom experiences have been limited to observing, handing out and collecting worksheets and struggling to stay awake.

However tomorrow, I begin my first hands on student teaching, in a 10th grade Global History classroom, and I gotta say, I thought I would be freaking out by this point, or at least dreading the start of the whole process, but thats hardly the case.

First off, I have been taking a class Monday, Wednesday Friday this semester, from 8:25-10:25 – a Social Studies education methods course which has been as dull as it sounds.  Aside from the class itself being a waste of 6 hours every week, the class is taught by a woman you could easily confuse with the worst elementary school teacher you ever had.  She calls us “little devils”, threatens us with “noogies” and considers herself to be “a real stickler”.  Not only is she trapped in the 1970’s, she gets on you for showing up to class at 8:24 yet has no problem holding you 10 minutes later.

One of the best parts of student teaching is that because I will be teaching from 7:55 until 10:45, that class disappears from my schedule until the middle of April.  So chalk one in the win column for (as of tomorrow) Mr. Fier.

The way my 3 hours at Heninger High School will work is as follows:

Syracuse city school schools operate on block scheduling, which I was completely unfamiliar with before I started my observations started freshman year.

There are either A days and B days, or Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4, with days 1 and 3 following similar schedules and the same with 2 and 4.

My school has 4 different days, and block scheduling also includes 80 minute block periods as opposed to the more traditional 40 to 45 minute periods I was used to in middle and high school.

So, tomorrow will be a Day 2, and because I am there for only 3 hours, I will be there for Blocks 1 and 2, shadowing the schedule of my host teacher.

Day 2 and day 4, from 7:55 to 9:20, I will be working with a global history class, while the second block, from 9:25 to 10:44, I will be on Hallway duty with my host teacher, meaning I only teach one period every other day.  Not a bad deal.

Days 1 and 3 I will get 2 back to back classes.

For whatever reason, the excitement about finally getting in front of a classroom (plus getting wear really nice clothes 5 days) is completely overwhelming and nerves I have.

It also helps that I have sat down with my host teacher twice already, and the guys is as easy going and laid back as they come, but still knows how and when to crack the whip when he needs to.

I can’t express enough to cool I think it is that starting tomorrow, I’m a part time employee at this place (without pay of course) and that for the next 6 and a half weeks, 5 days a week for 3 hours a day, I will be getting a big taste of what my future has to offer.

I plan on blogging about all my stories (hopefully I’ll have plenty), along with some pictures I am being forced to take for a portfolio the School of Education requires of all of its students, so it gives me an excuse to show you everything from the school to my teacher to the kids to my endless combinations of sports coats, dress shirts, ties and pants, which sadly might be the thing I’m most excited about.

Wish me luck everyone!

February 26, 2008 Posted by | Student Teaching | Leave a comment