From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Student Teachers

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Student Teaching - Week #12

Life in the City
Festival of Lights Parade
The Festival of Lights seems like an important event to be in Chicago for. People described it as the Chicago equivalent of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I describe it as mass chaos with way too many people. So yeah, probably pretty close to Macy’s Parade.
In order to see anything well, you have to show up hours ahead of time and be committed to staking a spot and not moving. We weren’t there early. And we weren’t committed to sticking around. After about 30 minutes of barely seeing anything, we left. Or at least tried to. It took another thirty minutes to get out of the crowds. I’m not typically claustrophobic, but after that, I wanted nothing but to sit alone and be very introverted for a couple hours.
Chicago History Museum - Magic Exhibit
It has been a good week in terms of exploration. Over my long Veteran’s Day weekend, my friend Aleah came to visit. I had another reason to be touristy, which I don’t like doing very often. We visited slightly random spots, including the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Candiality, Hersey’s, and Sprinkles Cupcakes (we apparently had quite the sweet tooth). We saw a workshop performance of an opera being produced next year called The Suitcase Opera Project, written around a suitcase of letters written right after WWII by a homosexual man who was dishonorably discharged from the Marines. It was very good, but would have been better had it been a play and not an opera. I finally made it to the Chicago History Museum as well. I love going to museums with my friend Aleah; we tend to explore museums at very similar paces. It was a really great weekend.
Life in the Classroom
It’s getting to the point of the semester when the kids realize that I won’t be there much longer. Almost every day a different student suggests I just take my cooperating teacher’s job. As much as I would love to keep working at Kelvyn Park, there are a few things in my way. One being the fact Ms. Holzmann loves her job and isn’t going anywhere. Another being that my Iowa teaching license doesn’t automatically transfer to Illinois without taking tests. Slightly frustrating, but I should have planned ahead better.
It’s been a hectic week. We didn’t have school for Veteran’s Day, which was nice. And then the Tuesday after Veteran’s day we had parent-teacher conferences. That was nerve wracking. We only had twelve parents show up, ten of which had A or B students, so it turned out fine. It was disappointing that we had so few parents, but I got a lot of planning and grading done.
After Thanksgiving, I begin dropping periods that I teach one by one. I’ll have two weeks left, finishing up by December 7. It’s crazy to think how quickly this semester has gone. It has been one of the most challenging, most stressful, yet encouraging and enjoyable semesters of my life.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Student Teaching - Week #11

By Kristin Trease – Kelvyn Park High School
Life in the City
Now that November has officially set in, the air is cooler, the leaves have fallen off the trees, and unfortunately, Christmas has started to sneak in. I am a very, very big advocate for holidays staying in order, so I want nothing to do with Christmas until after Thanksgiving. This blatant disregard for the calendar was clearest when my roommate and I were walking through Michael’s craft store. I love Michael’s but Halloween was barely over.
Comedy Sportz
One of my roommate’s dreams came true: her day was made into a musical. That’s what happens when she volunteers to tell an improv team how her day went during their show. It was very funny; I got to make a cameo, as did Neil Patrick Harris, an actor on our favorite TV show. We’ve been slightly addicted to “How I Met Your Mother” the past week. And by we, I mean I’m always asking if we can watch it on her Netflix account. Improv shows are definitely not my favorite form of entertainment, but it was a pretty fun Thursday evening.
My roommate and I have also discovered our shared love of listening to 90s Radio Hits. We listen when we do homework, when we clean, when we cook. It’s a mutual love for all that is pop and 90s fabulous. Because who wouldn’t want to write this blog post with “Blue” by Eiffel 65 playing? I’m blue, da ba dee da ba die.
2012 Presidential Debate
Life in the Classroom
I’ve also discovered some pretty cool stuff about my students the past couple weeks. For one, most of them love debates. They don’t want to prepare for them, but they love arguing. We had some very good discussions about war, immigration, same-sex marriage, and pro-choice issues. Our unit followed the presidential election, so it worked perfectly to have our debates on Tuesday, the day all of the other debating would finally end.
They were all so excited that Obama won. A couple of them tried to tease me about it, assuming that I had voted for Romney. The look on their faces when I told them I voted for Obama was priceless, like their whole work perception was shifting. Here was this white woman in front of them and she voted for Obama. I didn’t tell many of them that I voted McCain four years ago…
I was also told Thursday that I should get a job at T-Mobile. Apparently they’re hiring. I was talking to a couple of my students about how I had to vote absentee because I couldn’t go home to do it. They were shocked that I moved to Chicago without my family to teach. Then they asked what I was going to do when I was done; find a job, hopefully teaching related, eventually. And the conversation followed:
Omar: You should get a job at T-Mobile! They’re hiring, my aunt could hook you up!
Bianca: She moved all the way from Nebraska without her family just to teach us! Why would she want to work at T-Mobile?
Omar: Just part time, get a little cash, hook me up with some discounts.

And this is why I love my students.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Student Teaching - Week #10

by Kristin Trease - Kelvyn Park High School

Life in the City
Halloween is quite interesting in this city. A far bigger event than I anticipated. People were dressed up and going out the weekend before and on Halloween night; I even saw a few costumes the weekend after. I was low-key the weekend before, deciding to avoid the busy streets and go to plays and concerts. On Halloween night, I put my costume back on (after wearing it all day at school, I needed a break for a couple hours) and headed to the parade in Boy’s Town. We didn’t realize that by parade, they meant people from the costume contests walking down the street in their costumes. It was pretty lame, but we saw some really interesting costumes.
On Thursday night, the arts event was the play “Metamorphoses” written and directed by Mary Zimmerman. This was the play that we theatre geeks were excitedly anticipating for the whole semester. “Metamorphoses” is an adaptation of the ancient Greek myths found in “The Odyssey.” The most well known fact about the play, and what keeps it from being performed more often, is that it takes place in a large pool of water. The whole audience got towels on their chairs.
It was one of the most beautiful plays I’ve ever seen. I’m a sucker for narrative plays told through stories and narrators; it’s the feminist aesthetic and writing style that strikes me most poignant if done well. And this play was done well. It’s one thing to find yourself connected to the characters, all good theatre should do that; it’s another thing to find yourself connected to the water, the role that it played in all of these stories. It became another character, morphing from role to role as quickly and seamlessly as the actors. One of my favorite Thursday nights of the semester, maybe ever.
Life in the Classroom
The honeymoon period is over. Long over. I’m no longer the fun, new teacher in the room. I’m the teacher that expects things from them, that tries to get them to be quiet, that interrupts their conversations, that expects them to keep their phones and iPods away. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m successful at keep them on task, they just get more annoyed with me now. It’s been a very difficult, very stressful past couple of weeks. There have been some wonderful moments, but sometimes they are overshadowed. Sad, but true.
The past couple weeks we’ve been looking at major platforms of the presidential debates in order to prepare for our class debates. There have been some very interesting and good conversations based around war, immigration, homosexual marriage, and abortion topics. I’ve learned a lot, like maybe it’s not the best idea to tell students where you stand on issues. After telling one student who recently joined our class my feelings towards homosexual marriage, he said to his tablemate, “I don’t like that teacher.” Respectful disagreement with people who think differently than us is something we’re working on. It’s been interesting, and some days more successful than others.
I have ten and a half days left of full time teaching, twenty and a half days left at Kelvyn Park. Now that I’ve counted them, I’m freaking out. It doesn’t feel like our time should be ending so soon. Granted, almost every night when I’m doing homework, I say something along the line of “I can’t wait to be done student teaching.” But in all reality, I’m going to be heartbroken when my students keep going to school and I don’t get to spend every day with them. It’s been the fastest, most stressful, most educational semester of my life.