Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Second day

So, I'm student teaching in an inclusion class, which means that the students are blessed with both a regular teacher and a special ed teacher who are both there part time. I serve as the third adult body in the room, and so I've spent the past two days doing things like signing hall passes, answering questions, and stopping kids from putting tape on each others' backs. These kids have three grownups in the room and they're having the least fun they've ever had in their lives! It's awesome.

The class is a humanities class, which is a model that some middle schools around here use. While in some schools "humanities" means English language arts (ELA) and social studies are blended together, in this school it just means that the same teacher(s) teaches both subjects. Which ultimately means that social studies gets the shaft. (I've been told that our class won't start learning any social studies until at least the end of September.)

In New York, some of the blame (for the shaft) falls on the fact that students and teachers are held accountable for their scores on the ELA test, and that the 8th grade social studies test is a totally meaningless test. It's a no-stakes test. Eighth graders take it in June, so it has absolutely no bearing on what high school they get into. No one ever really looks at it. The state and city don't even bother to publish statewide and citywide averages. (Despite all that I actually do think it's a pretty good test and not a bad thing to spend time preparing kids for.)

I think there's something else to blame as well -- I don't think too many middle school teachers like teaching social studies (particularly if your certification is in ELA). Social studies is boring, kids don't like it, they stop paying attention and it's just harder.

Anyway, despite the fact that I will probably get very little practice actually teaching social studies, I really like the school, the teachers, and the kids. I'm totally exhausted after a day at school and then an evening of class, but I'm not dreading getting up at the crack tomorrow, which I think is a good sign.

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