Sunday, March 12, 2017

so, as a substitute teacher in middle schools and high schools, i've taken to reading the signs that teachers put in their classrooms to inspire students. of course i also read their directions (agenda) - what students are supposed to do - and anything else there is to read. i look at their family pictures sometimes, and imagine what their life is like as a teacher. i try to imagine how happy they are.

but the directions for the students, i try to figure out. i'm probably the only one who reads them, or rather, students who have been in the class since august have some idea what they intended, whereas i, a one-time visitor, have to surmise or assume.

got to an esl class the other day, eight students only, who all knew each other very well. one of the signs in their room said, "always raise your hand." we can guess what that one means, you need something, that's how you make it clear. but, if you read the sign, the sign says to always raise your hand. excuse me?

same day, i'm in a math class. it had one that said, "reason abstractly and quantitatively." i thought that was interesting. i couldn't quite figure out how to do it though. I mean, i can use both kinds of skills, abstract and quantitative, to figure out a geometry problem. i can't quite reason quantitatively though. and i'm still stuck on why you can't divide by zero. it seems to me, if you reason abstractly, that you can divide by zero.

ok, so i'm subbing in cloudcroft, where everyone's bears, rather than tigers, and they want the students to think like championship bears and be fierce, loyal, smart, and everything like that. so theirs say, "bear in mind" to do most important things first, "bear in mind" to syncretize, etcetera. and they all make sense to some degree, although you don't always bear this stuff in mind. but my favorite is the last one, "bear in mind" to sharpen your saw.

now we can assume that they want their students to think sharply, incisively, and all that. and i'm sure that your mind has tools for doing this kind of thinking. well, if you think about it, we must have some tools for thinking incisively and sharply, though i'm not sure, and i have no idea what they would look like. but if i don't even know what they look like, how can i sharpen them? i have saws, and i can sharpen them, though i don't, and i can recognize that my work would be easier if i did. but the kinds of tools that middle school kids use to solve science problems (that was in a science class by the way, and all the students knew those bear habits) - well, i'm still guessing about that. i just don't know.

there was one cooking class where they let the students make the signs. one said "alway's wash your hands"....i was horrified. if i was a teacher, i'd have simply made that student draw the entire poster again. no way i'd hang it on the wall. except maybe to say, there are apostrophe errors, then there are classic stupid apostrophe errors, which nobody on earth should allow anyone they know to produce under any circumstances. but i tend to be a little judgmental about such things. it's partly because my entire life is discipline now, and i don't even really get to teach much. i was in an english class, and they were doing metaphor and allusion, and the allusion (which was to eden) went way over their heads, because kids don't know from eden these days. but when they were doing metaphor, i said metaphor was like "love is like a flower," and then i brought out my "bear in mind to sharpen your saw" metaphor. in some ways, love is like a flower, i suppose, and in some ways it is not; and, your mind, we could say, is like a saw, to some degree, maybe. i hope mine isn't rusting out, out in the back where it rains and the fog rolls in and sits on us, up high in the mountains where we are. bear in mind, to sharpen your saw. it's my new motto. that, and embrace the tiger, return to mountain.


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