the twit


    the death of required mcblog: my MTC experience

    ben guest productions proudly presents:

    ...a horrible prompt to put an end to a horrible idea. jake has it right: "The blog was great when it
    was spontaneous and extra-curricular." i wonder how many sprouts were trampled in the combine...

    my MTC experience: an 800+ word effort of condensation and association

    spring '05

    wherein the protagonist applies to a slew of teaching programs: MTC, Worldteach, TFA, etc. ben guest contacts him and is very persuasive. plans are made to come to mississippi and teach math, rather than go to china again, or to continue the TFA process. primary selling point: intimacy of small program, organizational support, and free master's degree.

    summer '05

    wherein the protagonist walks off of the graduation platform at amherst, and into a uhaul that he will drive - with roommate - to mississippi. highlight of the trip: crashing into a gas station before leaving massachusetts, and watching the proprietor water flowers while waiting for a fiberglass contractor to come assess the damage on the service island overhead. the summer is spent with roommate and squatter in a subletted apartment in oxford. a cat is involved. on the first day of classes, a bearded fellow in torn bluejeans and a bandana says something about loving america and traveling around in a minivan with a matress in the back and a girlfriend. the protagonist - upon learning that he will be teaching in the same building as the bearded fellow - is sure that this is an unwelcome match. MTC classes - a "toolbox" as advertised - amount to the idea of a lesson plan, the cutting and pasting of paper, and the dumping of the protagonist into a summer school classroom (upon arrival, the veteran teacher dumps four boys and some textbooks on him, and says "they're yours." nothing much happens - except an interesting lesson on the Stackerlee myth, and some textual dectective work with a Stephen King novel). a lot of time is spent chatting with the proprietor of Hot Dog Records, whose store is always impending foreclosure.

    fall '05

    wherein the protagonist learns that his students can not graph lines, or add fractions, or write fluent sentences - also that they have hardly been encouraged or motivated to value the reward of educational restraint and self-improving focus. he throws the curriculm out the window and tries to find where they are in relation to where they need to be. textbooks never arrive. more and more students are added/dropped from the roll. katrina rolls over jackson, ms as a category 1 hurricane. the protagonist sits on the porch with roommate and watches trees bend over each other. a cat is involved. more and more students are added/dropped from the roll - some from new orleans. calculators are forebidden in the classroom - so that students are forced to think. at this point, it is clear that textbooks will never come (they do, however, show up sometime before winter break). many photocopies will be made. throughout all of this, MTC courses are now at their least academic, least useful, and least believable. one course involves being read to for hours out of a rhetorically corrupt red book, and/or poorly typed overheads. this is punctuated with arts & crafts. classmates duck in the corner to avoid being reprimanded while trying to figure out what to teach on monday, and a nauseatingly misrepresentative lesson plan is coughed up (the death of STAI is demanded, but ignored; the guillotine rests, alone). other MTC events: an old man sits observes the protagonist's classroom, makes awkwardly sexist comments towards his visiting friend, and pats him inappropriatly after giving him a candy bar (must be a generation gap); a class is organized around "tricks of the trade" and learning how to integrate technology that doesn't exist in resource-poor classrooms. in the school building, the protagonist reluctantly offers to help with the cross country team - gratefully meeting a student who happens to be a decent runner -
    and plots with torn blue jeans america beard man to give kids an outlet for controversy. this is funded by a local foundation. somewhere along the mix, the protagonist offers his complaints and suggestions to his instructor, and seems to be encouraged to leave the program (i.e. "we will understand if you choose not to return for a second year"); all he wanted was for his saturdays of class not to be a total waste - he did in fact believe in the concept of saturday classes, and the group that met for them. this group - in fact- is the primary source of strength and renewal on these organizational weekends - most cathartically spent abusing hotel rooms.

    spring '06

    wherein the protagonist suddenly feels like a second-year teacher in the second semester, and wherein the roommate begins to separate from MTC and start doing a lot of yoga to keep herself form coming totally unglued. a cat is involved. courses are finally valid: an ed-law class that plows through important information by means of uninformative lectures and poorly typed overhead; an issues in education class that is actually a class - readings, discussions, guest lecturers, exhausting projects, endless reflection and actually a book to read (not to mention articles and clippings). the decent runner begins to get in shape, and does well enough to make it to the big show; at the same time, things like stealing a car and running it into a ditch spell danger. the outlet for controversy blows up into a full-fleged organization: speakers (governors, NAACP leaders, state judges, etc.), trips, protest, and plenty of argument - capped off with a two-day civil rights tour: ole miss for meredith stuff and memphis for dr. king/museum stuff. in the classroom, the water has found its level and enough resources have been created and/or scrapped together in order to get some instruction taken care of. students can graph lines at this point, and some progress is made in the realm of creativity and interdisciplinary thought. mostly, chaotic though. protagonist and roommate live more and more separate lives, severed emotionally, financially, and productively; sometimes, they do yoga together. girlfriend/love of protagonist moves to MS in late december, and is mugged at the end of an aweful new years eve. she takes up a job doing secretarial work for a law firm, and gradually gets invovled with local free weekly while the protagonist gradually begins squatting at her apartment - only going back to his old duplex for clothes and the hermitage demands of a intense workload.

    summer '06

    wherein the protagonist finds himself with a bout of teaching summer school when rest was needed. too many world cup games watched at too many bars on too many afternoons; the protagonist should have been getting in running shape. a profound love grows, however, for the people around him in the MTC groups - first and second years. all things seem to fall to the wayside in preference for the promotion of group identity. many parties, a couzapalooza, a bachelor's last stand, and less sleep than should have been required. delightful hosts, however. also: a forgettable in the flesh course, a deplorable online course, and a neverending requirement to sit in a classroom and check off boxes. in july, a body finally rests, a cat dies, a roommate moves away, and the protagonist and his love move into original lodgings. a new cat, and the school year approaches suprisingly fast.

    fall '06

    wherein the protagonist gets a second chance at teaching/coaching/sponsoring. there are no textbooks again, so he begins the process of making all of his own materials in digital format. a calculus class shows some promise. the outlet for controversy continues to build strength, and is very active in a local bond issue and voter registration. two more schools begin to attend regularly - one a nearby public school, the other a nearby private school. cross country is a waste, mostly involving the protagonist standing in the middle of the field waiting for baskeball shoes to wheeze and moan by. the decent runner had run into trouble over the summer, and spends most of the school year cooped up in alternative school. he calls the protagonist at all hours, but little can be done. MTC offers up its second legitimate course - an extension of the first one, taught by the same person, and focusing on ed leadership and leadership studies. more visitors, more books, more thinking. the other fall course is a well-intentioned ed research seminar, which could use some focus. the biggest benefit of the program is as it always is - devastated hotel rooms, hundred of hot wings, and each other. the complete absorbtion of the school day is in full effect; 11 and 12 hour days roll off without a thought. every night the protagonist and/or the blue jeans america are the last cars in the parking lot. one evening, a driver side window is shattered. no more ipod.

    spring '07

    wherein the protagonist hits his stride, falters, and continues. students have learned much more than last year (they can certainly graph lines, and some can argue that they don't exist), textbooks are an afterthought, and four girls elect to sit for the ap exam - learning to be proud of what they do know, not ashamed of what they don't. and yet, there is so much withing all of them left unconvinced and untouched. a small meltdown towards the end of it - the protagonist lies on the floor of his bedroom for a couple of hours, wrapped up in failure; blue jeans america
    calls for a couple days of rest. it is nevertheless true to the protagonist that the only deterrent for action within so many of his children is the possibility of punishment; the ethics of democracy is a failed project. the outlet for controversy begins to dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. meeting and conferences and so many people telling the kids that the moment that they figure out what they need to change, the moment they will lead us to a better future. MTC is an organizational ghost upon the horizon; however, there are still hundreds of hotwings, and each other - which seem to be the important parts anyway. at the end of it, plenty of required logorrhea, plenty of handshakes, and plenty of exit surveys. towards the end of school, the protagonist has such a hard time staying convinced that education has anything to do with education. a trip to alabama fills his soul however, when the outlet for controversy, having more food than they needed, decide to give it to those that have none, and - unprompted - feed the homeless at kelly ingram park. this is bookended the following afternoon by a gigantic monument to the confederacy - on the alabama capitol grounds.

    .... 1805 words. give me my cake.