16 September 2006

Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

One of my resolutions for this new school year is a stealth project: Save the Julio! Julio is one of those teachers who drives me to have conversations like the one below.

INT: Hallway at central office. Science and math specialists are walking from opposite directions. The math specialist is scowling.

Science specialist: Is everything all right?
Math specialist: I...I think I might be bald by the end of this school year.
Science specialist: Oh, that's nothing. I was just sitting at my computer reading e-mail and realized I was going to have an aneurysm. That would be it. I'd just slump over at my computer. I have to take a little walk now.

Julio is an energetic and intellectually curious man. He has a passion for teaching but no clue about student learning. There are unit binders full of pre-printed notes for the overhead. The idea is just to have kids copy down the notes. If they don't learn from that, too bad...because, hey, he taught it, right? So my mission this year is to shake Julio up a bit. It's a good time as he's picking up a program that I once taught---and is receptive to mentoring.

I saw Julio on Friday morning as I was moving between different schools. He was stressed about getting a lab set up for next week. "Gee, should I come back after school? I could help you set up." He liked that idea and it was the perfect "in" to having another session with him to talk about things. He has already tried a couple of ideas from our previous talk and is happy with the results. I just need to keep him from reverting to his old habits...and then see if he'll transfer any of these ideas to other classes he teaches. We're having some good conversations for now and that is useful.

Julio does care about what happens in the classroom, it's just that his entire focus is on himself. I may very well be wrong in thinking this, but I think that what happens in the classroom should be about kids. Can I get him to to move more to that side of the continuum this year? I think I might...as long as I don't have that aneurysm first.


Ms. H said...

It sounds like you're on the right track with Julio. Your combination of perception and strategy is going to effect change on that classroom...and he will think it was all his idea. Good show!!

The Science Goddess said...

I'll keep my fingers crossed. :)

I'll be thrilled if all of this pans out...and also depressed at the thought of having to figure out how to do separately do this with every secondary science teacher.