The unit plan is going very well. My pre-practicum hours, though...not so much. I love my cooperating teacher; she's great, and she lets me help out a lot in the classroom by grading and co-designing lessons with her. On Tuesday, the kids in her Folklore class gave presentations about the differences and similarities between traditional faerie tales and their Disney counterparts. I'm not going to lie, for juniors and seniors, these presentations were horrendous, especially when they got to the real analysis part. They were supposed to look at cultural context, but each group had the same line, "Disney changed the stories so they would be more politically correct and wouldn't frighten children." That's nice, but what about the cultural background called for these changes? So, my cooperating teacher was disappointed; instead of penalizing them, we got together and designed a lesson about the cultural implications of the Disney films they presented on. It was all about critical thinking skills; though the execution was a little rough, critical thinking happened in that room. I was so proud! It was a good morning. However, in the afternoon, my cooperating teacher sent me to another classroom because she was administering a test in her own; this is standard procedure for pre-prac students so that they can see as much action in a classroom as possible. So, she showed me my options for the period, and I chose another Folklore class taught by another teacher. I wish I had gone to the other Sci-fi/Fantasy class.
Anyway, one of the first things the unfamiliar teacher said when we went into the empty classroom was, "Welcome to hell." Honestly, I don't like it when teachers are negative about their students. They can be hard to keep in line, but if you're not doing anything about it or asking for help, you should be embarrassed about all your bitching and moaning about it. I wasn't really all that put off by the statement because my last pre-prac had been at an inner-city school that was pretty out of control. The line is, "You can't scare me; I've been to (insert urban school name)." Usually, when I observe, I sit behind the teacher's desk or in a corner--somewhere out of the way. She placed me in the center of the back row; this would have been fine until she explained why. Apparently, there are some "warring factions" in this class. A student on the left side of the room accused some students on the right of bullying him/her. She said I could be a wall. That was a little unnerving, but I did as I was told. That instruction alone should have been a hint that I was in a bad place. When a class starts, the teacher takes a few seconds to explain the presence of their student teacher; this is how not to do it: the teacher got up in the front and said, "We have a visitor today. Officer (insert name) from the (insert nearby urban city) Police Department." At first, I thought it was a mildly amusing joke, and I played along for a little while. After the first ten minutes, though, students were confused and worried, and I realized that this teacher intended to keep the "joke" running. I told the few students on either side of me that I wasn't a cop, but whenever a student piped up that I was a student teacher, she insisted that I was under cover. It wasn't funny anymore. Impersonating a police officer is a felony, and I wasn't going to get pulled into that. She was using my presence to establish some semblance of order in her class; she even went as far as to imply that I could bring about some form of consequences if they misbehaved. It was a disgrace.
My time at the school was supposed to end right after that class, and I had my own class to attend on my campus. So, I had to rush out, turn in my visitor's badge, and meet my husband so he could take me to my next engagement. I told him what happened, and he encouraged me to report it. Our worry was that a student would go home and tell his/her parents that they had a cop in their E-period class. I reported it to the vice principle's office to cover my own ass by making sure they knew what was going on before it got back to them through someone else. I don't think they're going to do anything about it. They kept insisting that this teacher is a known joker, but I told them that she seemed pretty serious and the students couldn't really be sure if she was kidding or not. The new worry is that I'll come back on Monday morning to an English department that will be looking at me like a dirty snitch. >__<