So, I realize this looks a little eager, but I wanted to blog while things were still fresh on my mind.

Going first was good for my presentation anxiety, but it did leave quite a few wild cards as far as expectations. Overall, I’m very happy with how my teaching presentation went. I think the discussion went well, and we touched on a lot of the things I had hoped to touch on.

When comparing myself to the other presenters today (which I know I shouldn’t necessarily do, but), I realize that I didn’t really contextualize my lesson in a greater classroom environment or teaching “unit” as some people were calling it (this from a non-teacher!). I’m not sure if you all missed this element and wished I had touched on it (let me know in the comments section if you feel so moved!), but the truth is, I was probably so nervous that I just wanted to get started!

I am glad, however, that essentially my entire period was taken up with activity (as opposed to formal presentation) — I would hope that you guys enjoyed that, too. It was a good thing for me in particular (as someone who’s never officially taught before) because it gave me some experience actually leading the discussion and activity of an entire class for longer than just a few minutes. I was actually surprised at how quickly the half hour went by — I guess you were all right about that 😉

I will admit that I was a little disappointed in myself for how I posed the discussion questions. I don’t think I was always very clear (though you guys were great and picked up the slack!), and I think my nerves got in the way of me being very articulate. I guess ease in front of a classroom of (often blank) faces is something that comes with time and practice, but I just wish I could’ve done a little better.

Also, I appreciated Kathryn’s idea about letting the students read “The Lowboy” with and without the first ‘graph or two about Richard and his “smallness” to see how it affected their understanding, and probably their prejudices — that was a good idea, and if anyone wants to leave additional ideas in the comments, I’m all ears!

Thank you guys for your excellent participation and your patience with me as such a teaching newbie!

12 thoughts on “Hindsight

  1. nikki

    I agree that our discussion about “The Lowboy” was great! You did a good job moving us in different directions and addressing key points you would want your class to discuss. If you felt scattered or inarticulate I’m sure it had much more to do with time constraints and wanting to fit everything in than your personal teaching style. As a teacher, you’ll learn quickly how to manage class discussion (what works, what doesn’t, what to do when all you see are blank faces, etc.), so I don’t think you should worry about that. You led us to some very interesting points and let us explore them at our own pace (to the extent possible in 30 minutes).
    As for suggestions, I think it would be fun to split the class in half and ask them to debate the question of the narrator’s bias against his brother. (After all, kids love arguing!) I hadn’t really thought that issue through before your presentation, and I was intrigued by it. (Speaking of which, I hadn’t read the story before, and I really liked it–great selection by the way!) I also think it was great that you thought to discuss the actual piece of furniture. I highly doubt the average HS student would know what a lowboy is, and I also doubt that many of them would go to the trouble of looking it up, so it was very helpful of you to address the topic. In doing so, you essentially “force” students to look for an answer to a question they all undoubtedly had, but may not have asked. (Students are notorious for taking the easy/lazy way out and not looking something up!)
    Overall, I think you did a really good job. I was interested and engaged the entire time, and if I can say the same of my students after a lesson, that’s a victory in my book!

    1. abbie Post author

      Nikki, thanks for the comments! And thanks for the debating idea — sounds like something that would get students even more involved in the conversation…

  2. Lindsay

    I really enjoyed your presentation, Abbie! I think you did an excellent job leading the discussion and I agree with you that we did touch on most of the parts of the short story that I was interested in discussing/analyzing. I like how you opened up your presentation with a writing exercise for us to get started thinking about how the memories we have can be linked directly to the objects that we own. I agree with Nikki that it was good to show us an actual picture of what a lowboy looks like. Great job!

  3. Susan

    I think all of your activities were great from pre-writing to discussion. The pre-writing about an object and memory was relevant to the story. I thought of another pre-writing activity or pre-question for students to consider; have them choose one adjective for someone who they resent (depending on maturity of the students I suppose). I think it would be interesting to omit the first paragraph describing Richard like someone in class suggested, but at the same time I think his description as “small” is important in characterizing the brothers’ relationship. You opened up the discussion, and let the students do most of the talking, which was great to allow the students to engage with the text. I think a popcorn reading might also be an interesting activity for this text (I am sure you had other activities in mind too that we didn’t get to because of time).

    1. abbie Post author

      Susan, I really like your idea for the activity of choosing an adjective to describe someone you might have hard feelings toward (and I also agree that it would be a risky move depending on your students!) — that would probably lead the discussion in a whole new direction compared to what we talked about after the object-memory writing prompt.

      v [and to Fe below me, here: Thanks!!] v

  4. febencosme

    I was impressed by your composure throughout your teaching presentation and commented as much to the person seated next to me. I further said: “Her students are going to love her.”

  5. Alicia

    As others have mentioned, leading discussions gets easier with time — but I would add that even the most experienced teacher gets those dead silences sometimes. With high school students, it can be way more often than you deserve! I thought you did a great job of picking up on topics of interest in the discussion and running with them – even taking us in a new direction sometimes, based on what someone contributed.

    I also really enjoyed this story. I have never been much of a short story reader, so I’m a bit of a novice in this area. I laughed aloud at the descriptions of Richard and, as I said in my own blog, would totally consider this now as a story with a potentially unreliable narrator. That didn’t even occur to me when I was reading it. So I really learned a bunch of new things and I’m grateful for a really good lesson!

  6. toddkelly

    I agree with everyone else Abbie. I think you had a great lesson. I’ve never read the story before, and thought it was a excellent choice. The discussion flowed naturally, and I felt you had a strong teaching presence.

    1. abbie Post author

      Alicia, Todd, and Faye,
      Glad you guys enjoyed the story! I am always surprised at how many people our age haven’t read much (if any) Cheever, but then I have to remember that the way I became familiar with him was kind of by chance, anyway (a past creative writing prof. really liked him and had us read lots).

      Anyway, thanks again for all the positive comments — you guys have made me feel a bit better about everything. I am glad you enjoyed it!

  7. afaye

    You have such a great attitude, Abbie, you really made me feel at ease. I’m with Alicia, I loved how you let the discussion progress and really listened and allowed us to chart the path of topics while still asking great questions. Good piece and great job leading it while still letting your students have control, too!

  8. Tim

    Reading the post mortem blogs has solidified some of my anxiety; so much to teach, so little time! I can see from the blogs I have read that the biggest issue is going to be what to teach out of the various activities I have come up with for my presentation. Fortunately I will have such a forgiving class. “Real” students can be ruthless – they know when your are fumbling about trying to make a connection that was apparent in the lesson planning stage, but is falling utterly on its face in the classroom. Sometimes they pounce. Of course this won’t happen in Prof. Sample’s class.

  9. adalton4

    I’m surprised to hear you were nervous, you certainly didn’t look or sound it! Don’t feel bad though; the first time I got up in front of a freshman class during my student teaching I thought I would shake to pieces with nerves!

    I think giving clear directions is a consistent challenge for even practicing teachers. It’s definitely something that comes with practice. This is my 4th year and I still find myself redrafting some assignment prompts to make them easier to understand. It’s challenging as a teacher to predict the questions your students will ask, even though we were all those students once. Seeing a picture of a lowboy was especially helpful as far as clarifying some elements of the story, so I would definitely do that if you teach the story to students down the road.

Comments are closed.