No Cliffs Notes, kiddos!

I’ve been a fan of “The Second Bakery Attack” since I first read it four years ago.  There are so many layers there, and this made it difficult to plan for the microteaching lesson.  Where to begin?  I initially wanted to jump to the heart of the matter—the “HUH?” reaction everyone gets from it.  “What is this cinematic image? Why is the wife a secret robber/burglar/thief/ninja and how did the husband not know?”  But, in planning my lesson, I thought jumping straight to those points would be very difficult if some of the smaller bits hadn’t been considered by the class.  So, I thought starting with the historical context would be the best approach to understanding this story, to unlocking the story.  I believe students think, “Just tell me what the point is,” but they need to get there much more slowly than they want.  Sorry kiddos, no Cliffs Notes with a concise summary for you!  Understanding and unraveling a piece of literature takes time and finesse.  It’s not all about one, concise message.  This is especially true of this short story.

The purpose of my lesson (to look more closely at the pop culture references) was actually just a small seed in my literary analysis paper earlier this semester.  I surprised myself tremendously that I took one small comment in that analysis and blew it up into this lesson plan.  And boy could I have gone on and on and on about it!  Fifteen minutes almost isn’t fair!

Things that I feel went well: Timing – this was the only time throughout my practicing that I actually got it all into fifteen minutes.  Phew.  I also feel that the entrance and exit tickets went especially well.  Asking the class to reflect on themselves (what brands did you encounter today? How are brands cursing you?) made the story suddenly very accessible. The group discussion portion was also great, though I wish we had time to discuss the answers / reactions.

Things that I feel need work:  Nerves in front of groups of my peers.  As others have noted, it’s very easy to stand up in front of teenagers each day, but it’s a different ball game to speak to one’s peers!  Not sure how to work on these nerves, but you all were terrifically receptive and kind. I also am an over-planner, trying to squeeze in as much info/discussion/questioning/awesomeness as possible.  Especially in this context, overplanning worked against me.  I wanted to share all of the cool teaching strategies I had thought of, but only had time for a quarter of them.  Sometimes I have trouble cutting the possibilities down and identifying the most essential and effective techniques.

It’s been a wonderful journey this semester.  I leave with pockets full of techniques, strategies, and ideas that I’ll be using soon!