Wednesday, June 29, 2005

 

questions, concerns, and comments on my teaching ability

I sat down earlier tonight to watch my taped lesson from this morning and the first thing I noticed was how good looking I am. Damn, I am one fine teacher. I played with the pause button for a while to find myself in my favorite teacher pose. Here it is: head cocked to one side listening attentively to a student, boyish grin on my face, hands on my hips, and twinkle in my eye. I should have no problem controlling my female students with a quick wink. But then I started thinking. Being an extremely attractive male teacher will not help me manage the guys. To further exacerbate that problem, I spent about 80% of the lesson with a smile on my face. I’m sorry, I can’t help it. I’m real good looking and it makes me smile. A lot.

Seriously though, that is something I will have to work on. I am an good-natured and happy person. And while that may work in the real world, it won’t necessarily work in my classroom. All the advice we have received has warned against smiling and appearing as the students’ friend. Before this summer started, my idea of a good teacher was someone who befriended his or her students. I’m going to have to learn that I can care about them while still maintaining that aura of one who commands respect.

Another major problem I noticed from watching the video was that I allow students to interrupt me at any point in my lecture if they have a question. I didn’t even notice I was doing it. I also never realized how disruptive it is for someone listening to the lecture. I don’t really believe in a “you can only talk if you raise your hand first” policy, but it was very helpful to experience the disturbance caused by questions that could wait until I finished my sentence of point.

All in all, I was surprised at how much of a teacher I look like. I don’t really feel like one yet. And though I feel comfortable in front of the room, I still felt like the students were looking at me as more of a peer than a teacher. But then again, it helps to be really handsome.

 

Marks, MS

I met my principal for the first time the other day. I had talked to him a number of times and I got the impression he never remembered who I was. He was always, “Mr. Couzo…Mr. Couzo…Yes, Mr. Couzo…that’s right.” So it was nice to give him a name to the face. I was surprised at how young he was. He sounded like a much older man, but he looked to be in his early forties. I was excited to see the school and the town. The Internet doesn’t really know Marks exists and it confuses Quitman Country with Quitman, GA.

The school is in much better shape than I thought it would be. The halls were clean, and the classrooms were large, bright, and well kept. The students I passed in the hall were well behaved and polite, as were the other adults. Maybe that’s just a southern thing. Much of the conversation I had with Principal Holeman was centered on his wanting me to teach biology and me saying I can’t do it. Still, he insisted I could get “emergency certification” to teach the subject. This is a little unnerving because I haven’t had a biology class since I was a freshman in high school. But I do remember him asking me if I could teach the subject since I first talked to him in April. I seem to remember saying no, and every other time since then. I was also a little confused by his constant reference to the need to check with the superintendent about hiring me. I thought it was a done deal a while ago. What do I do if, come late July, he says, “Sorry, Mr. Couzo, we just can’t fit you in.”? I mean, I need to find a place to live. But as Ben said, we’re placed where we’re placed because, in large part, the systems are less than perfectly organized. I just hope it doesn’t become a problem because I found this sweet little one-bedroom, two-story house about five miles from the school. It’s on the good side of the tracks in Marks. The neighborhood is well-kept and walking distance to the town’s one restaurant and 100-ft long commercial district.

I’m real excited to be moving to Quitman County. I can see myself living there easily. The owners of the restaurant already know me, and I have a table. This is exactly the small town experience I was hoping for. Principal Holeman said the students at the school are very well behaved, and if I have any problems I should not hesitate to send them to Vice-Principal Clay to have them beaten. I thought it was weird the way he just casually slipped that into the conversation. I was shocked to find out corporal punishment is still used, let alone in my school. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I mean, if it gets results, great. But shouldn’t we be above paddling students for misbehaving?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

 

WILLIAMS SWEEPS AMHERST IN TOURNEY

OXFORD, Mississippi - Tensions were high. The discomfort caused by the other’s presence was felt strongly on both sides. Loved ones were concerned that heated trash talk would soon escalate to physical violence. Yet, while it is not unheard of for Williams and AmHerst students and alumni to resort to blows, the group that relocated to Oxford, MS took a more sophisticated route – Beirut. The be all, end all of athletic competition.

Beirut, for those that don’t know, is a simple game. Known in the more barbaric and god-less circles as beer pong, the object of the game is to toss ping-pong balls into your opponents’ cups of beer located on the opposite end of a table (regulation length: 6’x3’). The 12, or six if your school was named for a bio-terrorist (more on that later), cups are arranged in two triangular racks of six cups. Teams of two go head to head until all of one team’s cups have been hit. When a cup is hit, say by a Williams student, the AmHerst duo must remove the cup from the table and drink the contents.

Though easy to learn, Beirut takes a lifetime to master. In Williamstown, home of the Williams College Ephs (after Ephraim Williams, provider of the dream and means to found the college), a lifetime is equivalent to freshman year. Still considered rookies around campus, freshmen are more than capable of wreaking havoc on any outsiders that dare challenge an Eph to ‘rut. The AmHerst Lord Jeffs (after Lord Jeffrey Amherst, known bio-terrorist and inspiration for Hitler and bin Laden, amongst others), on the other hand, can’t seem turn itself into the powerhouse it wants to be.

Williams and AmHerst have one of the great historic, albeit one-sided, rivalries in the collegiate world. In 1821, the president of Williams College, Zephaniah Swift Moore, kidnapped half of the student body and stole many of the College’s textbooks and marched east toward the Connecticut River Valley to found a new college. This treacherous plan had been in the works for a few years, and it came as no surprise when historians discovered that more evil was afoot than previously thought. Lord Jeffrey Amherst, the town’s and college’s namesake, it turns out, committed acts of bio-terrorism. Like Ephraim Williams, namesake of Williams College and Williamstown, Lord Amherst fought alongside the British in the French and Indian War. Unlike Williams, however, Lord Amherst believed in exterminating the Native Americans with smallpox. His troops distributed blankets and handkerchiefs contaminated with the disease, causing their eradication.

Since that fateful day in 1821, Williams students have been devoted to beating the shit out of AmHerst in, well, everything. Aware of their dark past, AmHerst students, in kind, have taken to their role of being beaten by the Ephs, though every now and then some naïve pair will challenge their archrivals to a Beirut game. It’s actually rather cute.

And this is exactly what happened two nights ago. David “Running Scared” Molina ’05 and Marcie “I’m Not Actually A Part Of The Program” Griffith ’05 of AmHerst had the gall to suggest a friendly game or two of Beirut to Williams alum Joel “I’m Not A Ringer, I Swear” Hebert ’04 and Evan “The Couz” Couzo ’05. Problem is, nothing is friendly between these two schools.

The stage had been set for last night’s bloodbath. Couzo and Hebert prepped for the big showdown by donning all Williams gear and eating a big meal high in carbs. Molina and Griffith, meanwhile, peed their pants.

At precisely 8:04 PM, it began. The Williams crew arrived at Molina’s apartment befouled by not one, not two, but three Lord Jeffs. Holding their breath and crossing themselves, Couzo and Hebert stepped over the threshold and entered the AmHerst den. After brief small talk, the two teams, realizing the importance of the occasion, quickly went over the house rules.

Game One was a feeling out period for both sides. Williams, fearing over-confidence, wanted to see exactly what their opponents could throw at them. The Ephs jumped to a quick lead thanks to Hebert’s opening streak of three cups. Couzo hit his first, but struggled for much of the rest of the game. Molina and Griffith proved to be streaky in this first match. Throwing blanks in the beginning, they started carpet-bombing the racks opposite them. Balls were flying, beer was splashing…and then it happened! Williams discovered (one of) AmHerst’s (many) weakness(es) – Molina can’t handle the trash talk. A one cup advantage for AmHerst quickly unraveled and Williams took the first game with back to back shots by Hebert.

After Game One, AmHerst never had a chance. Couzo, feeding on his deep hatred for all AmHerst rugby players, more than made up for his poor performance in the first game. Game Two was over before it started, ending with a crowd-pleasing one-two by Hebert and Couzo, respectively, to end the match. Games Three and Four were never a contest for the all-star Ephs. Couzo found his groove early on and Hebert continued to assert his dominance on the table.

And so it came to be, 1300 miles away from the beautiful Berkshires. Williams 4, AmHerst 0.

Monday, June 13, 2005

 

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