Tuesday, January 29, 2013

First Week Down!

Whew! What a whirlwind the last two weeks have been! I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve been home before 9 PM since I started student teaching (I have a couple of evening classes, a lot a TON of paperwork to do for the COE that I was totally blindsided with — more on that in another post — and I’ve been tutoring in the evenings!) I’ve never been this busy in my life! … but I thought I’d take advantage of this little break in the chaos to update, so here goes:

First of all, I love love love my supervising teacher — she’s been teaching for more than 20 years and she’s been so awesome about answering all of my questions and helping me brainstorm ideas ... she’s passionate about the job and it’s so evident. I think that the teacher you’re assigned to can either make or break the whole experience, so I consider myself extremely fortunate to be working with someone so great. And, on another positive note, the commute is so much easier than last semester when I was driving 20+ miles one way for clinical II. Being less than 10 minutes away is so perfect in the mornings. 

On Thursday (my first official day in the classroom) I arrived at the school at around 7:20 AM (I was told by the secretary the day before to be there around 7:30 AM, so I wanted to leave myself plenty of time … never a good idea to be late on the first day). It took me a minute to figure out how to get in the building (I didn't think to ask the secretary that detail, and as a result ended up walking all the way around the school to get inside...) After making my way to the office and introducing myself to the principal (something I knew I wanted to do first thing), I was sent out on my own to navigate the halls and find my classroom (which wasn’t as easy as I just made it sound!) My teacher wasn’t expecting my because the communication between the COE and high school was poorly executed, which taught me that it’s always a good idea to try to get in touch with your teacher before showing up at the school … just to touch base. Wish I would have taken that initiative…

Because students were working on "WV Writes" prompts the day I arrived (required essay practice for the yearly benchmark test) my teacher and I had a lot of time to talk about my goals, plans, etc., and get to know each other, so It worked out really well. Friday was a half day, so I didn’t really get to observe regular classroom instruction that day either, but I did get to sit in on my first faculty senate meeting (...snore fest. No, seriously … there were teachers sleeping!) Tuesday was the first day I got to see my students’ regular routine (because there was no school Monday to honor MLK day), so in reality, I’ve only been in the room about 5 full days. 

Tenth graders have been reading To Kill a Mockingbird, which...brace yourselves….I had never read before. In confessing that travesty to my teacher, I felt like a sub-par student of English Literature … but I quickly made up for it (the book is so wonderful, by the way!) Basically, students are reading aloud each day in class and discussing the book (not reading well I might add -- I was shocked at the low reading levels of these tenth and eleventh graders! -- but, more on that in another blog, too). Supplemental instruction/activities have included a crossword puzzle that my teacher made, a list of vocabulary words found in the book, and a review game that my teacher created when she first started teaching (students are split into two teams, a football field is drawn on the board, and for each question asked, the construction paper football moves up and down the field until one of the teams scores a touchdown. Cute idea, and the kids really seemed to love it — they didn’t even know they were studying!) Eleventh graders have been working on The Scarlet Letter, and the lesson plans/activities have pretty much been the same (save for the different book of course).

My notes for To Kill a Mockingbird

The football review game my supervising teacher created -- students love it!

So far I’ve just been “observing” and doing odd and end tasks like taking roll, running things to the office, and grading papers/journals. Starting Friday I’ll gradually be taking a more active part in instructing, working towards my big unit plan sometime in mid to late February (the idea is that student teachers should get to know their classes by observing before they really get involved with teaching).

While I don’t have my own desk area, I do have my own rolling chair (score!). I sit at the end of my teachers desk, which doesn’t give me much space to work, but it’s still a good little set-up (and I usually sit behind the desk when my teacher is working at the front of the class during instruction time). Her classroom is actually much bigger than I was expecting, and of course she has it decorated pretty cute. Also, I was super excited to see that there is a working Smart Board and ELMO component in the room (that the teacher actually uses … daily). So awesome. Also awesome is the fact that I'm now permitted inside a real, live teachers lounge. Thrilling, indeed (but I don't have my own keys, so having to ask for them each time I need to go somewhere is probably highly annoying to my teacher...)

So much more I want to say, but I won’t drag this post out. Instead, I’ll just say that being able to use the teachers lounge bathrooms instead of the student bathrooms is whole new level of awesomeness. And, I could definitely get used to snow days.


Friday, January 11, 2013

It's Christmas Again! (Kinda Sorta....)

After waiting all week, I finally received an e-mail from the COE today with information regarding my placement for student teaching. It felt like Christmas opening that e-mail, because for one, until final grades were posted in December, I wasn’t even sure I would be student teaching this Spring. I’ve been on the Dean’s list the past few semesters, but this wasn’t always the case you see.  Early in my college career I had some very poor (non-existent) study skills, and as a result I’ve spent the last two years trying to make up for the damage I did to my GPA during that time. (And, as a side note to any other students reading: it really is important to study hard even in high school and the beginning of college — you may think it doesn’t matter, but believe me, it does. I wish I had listened to the people in my life who tried to tell me that socializing wasn’t as important as my education...but, I digress….) It’s been a lonnnng journey that I had to learn the hard way, unfortunately. But, I’m happy to say that as of December, I’ve finally broken the 3.0 GPA barrier and am now eligible for ADMI 5 status (i.e. Student teaching). I’m so thankful for God’s help and provision along the way because without it, this wouldn’t be happening —  I’m proof that he blesses hard work (when you actually decide to put in the effort).  So, yes, it feels like Christmas! And that’s that. And now: Drum roll, please…

Starting on the 17th, I’ll be at Spring Valley High School, and then moving to Huntington Middle in March. 

So excited!

I really have no idea what to expect for the next 16 weeks, so I'm also super nervous. I can already visualize myself reliving the time I turned beet red while reading the General Prologue of the Canterbury Tales to a class full of 12th graders (but that's another very unfortunate story, for another day....). I’ve read a lot of helpful information on various blogs, but unfortunately, until I meet my classroom teacher, it’s hard to say what I’m in for. Any teachers reading this: do you have any advice for student teachers? Any specific expectations for the first day? In one particular blog post I read, a teacher wrote that she gives her student teachers their own desks/work stations for the semester. I’m not holding my breath on that one, but it would be kind of awesome. I guess we shall see soon enough. Stay tuned! 

 Happy Friday :)


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Teacher-y Wisdom: Here We Go!

When I first became a Pinterest addict back during my KDMC stint (I still have nightmares about that job...), I discovered the wonderful world of teacher blogging -- lots of cutesy blogs written by teachers about everything from classroom organization to what they wore that day to common core initiative. Of course I immediately wanted to create my own right then and there because I was so inspired; however, being that I was only a "teacher candidate" and had no real experience (unless you count the time I got to take lunch count during one of my clinical experiences...), I refrained -- I'm sure you're all grateful for that because inevitably my posts would have consisted of nail polish and makeup reviews, along with heavy ranting about how much I hated working midnight shift in the ER. My patience in this matter was probably for the best. You're welcome.

All of that being said, I've decided that now is the time to begin blogging about all of my teacher-y wisdom (just kidding! -- it will actually be about my lack thereof). This is probably a good time to insert a disclaimer: I'm not a real teacher. Not yet anyways.  My unofficial official title (which I've coined myself) is "almost" teacher, because I begin official student teaching in 9 days (eeekkk!) I'll spend 8 weeks in middle school and 8 weeks in high school, essentially responsible for the day to day operation and instruction of the classroom. And then I'll be a real teacher (degree and all!)

So, this blog is all about sharing the journey (although it's already been quite a journey to get to this point!) of my teaching career from the verrrrrryyy beginning: an "absolutely true" view of what it's really like to be in a classroom for 8 hours a day, responsible for 100+ other human beings. Stay tuned for weekly doses of  almost teacher-y wisdom :)

Here we go!