Friday, March 07, 2008

Big Day! - Thursday 3/6/2008

Started out the day with a little excitement. One of the other patrons of Sitton's Diner was outside having a smoke when he saw a trash truck come around the corner, smoking. The driver (wisely) dumped the whole smoldering load onto Tujunga Boulevard where it quickly achieved true flamedom!

A little passel of us left our coffee to ooh and ah. One of the servers called 911 on her cell phone. There seems to have been a lot of fire in my life in the past year. I'm more of an earth-type.

Some of you are aware that I started at Taking the Reins today with my own class, once a week for the next eight weeks. Another challenging experience.

Of course it's challenging, I don't know anything about 13 year old girls and I don't know anything about teaching!

The first half of the class went very well. We talked about them and their experiences of the day, etc. The best part was when one of the girls said she'd written a haiku, and we made one up on the spur of the moment. First line was about horses, second was about the weather, and the third was about horses and the weather...we actually wrote about 4 good last lines because they were all calling out ideas and counting syllables.

I sort of crashed in the last half of the class, having run out of stuff for them to do. The main skill I need to work on is getting them to talk more about the questions I bring up. Also need to figure out how to build from simple to something more complex that feels like a satisfying little project for the class period. I have great notes from Mags, but I need to relax a little, too, I think.

An unexpected challenge is that 3 of the 8 girls have done the program before. So their answers to questions like "What did you expect today?" and "How was the experience different than you expected?" were "I expected what happened and it happened."

I think they have a dampening effect on the other girls talking about their fears about dealing with these huge horses, because they're very comfortable. Also very energetic. Did have to separate two of them at one point.

The class was bored toward the end and could probably sense I didn't know what to do with them. I had them draw pictures of what they did. Didn't realize till I was telling about this later, but many of them drew the river, the ducks and the mountains. But they all left out the 20 feet of concrete on either side of the L.A. River (the bed is at least natural at this point with rocks and algae clumps and reeds) and the busy 5 freeway between the river and the mountains.

As my sister pointed out, they've already begun using their imaginations to change the way they represent the world and this is part of what we do in writing. I'll be sure and bring this up next week.

They were all disappointed that they only led horses and didn't get to ride. Hmm, see, there's an opportunity missed. I could have asked them to write about that and about something else they were disappointed about in their lives.

Skills I need to build:

-listening and being more spontaneous within the general framework

-creating my own class plan (even if it riffs heavily off of Mags's plan) so that I don't feel I have to refer to notes etc.

My mom, sister, Mags and other friends have been so helpful in listening and providing ideas for future exercises!!

In all honesty, I did go home and have myself a little cry because it was stressful and I want to do this well, and I am SO uncomfortable not knowing what I'm doing. But I'm glad I had myself a cathartic little private boo-hoo because I woke up feeling more clear-headed this morning for it. (Big Baby!!)


fingerstothebone said...

I don't know, I think facing a room full of 13 year old girls would be intimidating anytime, regardless of how much experience you've had, or how much you've prepare.

I think creating your own class plan would be really helpful—the class then becomes yours. Good luck.

Sundry said...

Heh! I took a class photo of them after the meeting (to help me remember names), and it's a good thing to be reminded that they are just beautiful young girls!

Los Angelista said...

13 year olds are very intimidating. A good cry is always essential for clearing one's head, especially after dealing with 13 year olds. And how cool and reflective are you to generate a list of skills you want to build.