Saturday, October 17, 2009

Another GOOD Week

This past week, I taught about 3/4 of the time, teaching the entire day except for the Math lesson in the morning. It was another good week and I have started to really enjoy my experience when I am in the "teaching" position. Dealing with behavior issues and lesson planning has become a thing of the past or really, just something that is coming naturally now. This has left me with the ability to do more exciting things in the classroom and really watch my lessons flow better. All of this has helped build my confidence as a classroom teacher, leader, and collaborator.

Due to this new found confidence, we were able to do some really fun things in the classroom this week and the students were singing my praises for them! I do enjoy their excitement and it is really fun to watch them take a hold of their own learning experiences and run with it.

Incorporating fun things into the classroom allows me to focus on a student-centered learning environment and reward the students for behavior that is acceptable and respectable. This past week, I did a lesson with counting and charting M&Ms, another lesson included making inferences about objects that were hiding in paper bags, another included doing "sink or float?" experiments, we also played with our shadows on the projector screen, and on Friday they completed a "What is your favorite type of apple?" survey. Who knew 1st graders LOVED apples so much!!! :)

Another opportunity I had this week was to work with our Computer Resource Specialist to create a "Smart Board" flip chart and integrate it into my lesson on -et and -en word families. It was awesome to watch the kids interact with the Smart Board (which is like a large digital
notebook). They enjoyed it so much, I am going to try and do something with it again this week!

This coming week, I go back to just observing. My teacher has set up an observation schedule for me, where I will go to 2 classrooms per day for different variations of times. I am hoping this will be a good opportunity for me to see how different teachers teach. On Thursday, my CT will be out for the day, so I will be teaching full-time that day; but then Friday will be a fun day for me to enjoy my 1st graders for one last day and celebrate with a "going-away" party in the afternoon. :) I really am going to miss them; but I am also looking forward to what God has in store for my next placement - Bring on the 4th graders!!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mutual Respect

This past week was a better week, probably my best week student teaching so far. I am finally starting to get into a nice groove with teaching full time and the students and I are building a mutual respect for each other. Behavior is still an issue and something I have really been working on. Classroom management is very important and so this week I have tried hard to stay on top of behavior issues, hand out more warnings, send more notes home, and not hesitate to make phone calls home when needed. The students are finally starting to realize just how serious I am. Respect is definitely earned!

Working with two of my 1st graders, doing Math Centers.

This coming week, I go back to sharing duties with my CT, she is teaching Math in the morning and I am teaching the rest of the day; so I will be teaching about 3/4 of the time. I think she is looking forward to it. She has been very bored the past two weeks and has her lesson plans all done through Thanksgiving already!!! :) She spent most of last week out of the classroom and has really been enjoying herself. She was even out on Friday and although I had a substitute, (who I think fell asleep at one point during the day) it was definitely MY classroom all day.

Helping two students who are working with Pattern-Block Templates.

I have been learning a lot about myself and about teaching; this has really been an enjoyable experience. I am sad that I only have two weeks left with these children. Although it was rough on many days, I really have grown to love these kiddos and wish I could stay here for the entire internship. I am anxious about learning all over again the ins and outs of another teacher, another classroom, and another group of children. I pray that my next experience is just as wonderful as this one has been. Thank you for your continued prayers as well!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Rough & Tough

This week was rough; but I am learning to be tough.

This week was my first week of taking over the classroom full-time. To say the least, it was a rough week for me. Monday was good; my University Supervisor came in and observed my teaching for an hour. It was a wonderful chance for me to realize that I can do this and others are seeing my strengths. She gave me wonderful feedback and listed no "weaknesses" or "areas to work on." I laughed at her and told her she should stay longer, indeed I am not perfect and I am sure she could find something! Both her and my CT had gracious words and feedback to give and I am thankful for their positive praises. I pray daily that I am being effective.

Monday turned out to be a good day; Tuesday was rough; Wednesday was okay; Thursday I cried; and Friday was better. To say that I am merely just learning about classroom management and behavioral issues is an understatement. I had a long talk with my CT on Thursday, as I was feeling completely ineffective and many of our lessons were not even attempted because behavior issues were over taking the room. During the last part of the day, rather than doing a fun science lesson I had planned, I fought back tears as I explained to my 6 and 7 years old that I was extremely disappointed and frustrated with them. My heart ached at the lack of respect they were showing me. Therefore, instead of the fun lesson, they all wrote me letters that said, "Dear Mrs Miller, I promise to..."

On Friday I reviewed their letters and clearly stated that I would be holding them to their promises. I intend to do the same thing this week as well. They need to learn that making promises, keeping them, and respecting me and others are all things that are very important. Also on Friday, I decided to send a letter home to all the parents/guardians of my students. My letter briefly reminded them of my duties as a student teacher and my expectations. I asked the parents to please reiterate with their students what my role was and how I was a teacher, an adult, that they also needed to respect. In this type of school, only about 20% of the parents/guardians show interest in their student's learning environment, so I am not sure how effective this will be; but I told the students about the note and hopefully they will start to realize just how serious I can be.

I am really growing to love these students and therefore I am learning to be tough. My CT suggested that I find my "mean" voice; she thinks I have a tendency of being too nice at times, especially when I am telling them that I am disappointed. So on Thursday she suggested that I go home and find my "mean-er" voice; :) This, I have been working on. I want to be stern, but also effective; this is the balance I have been working on.

Don't get me wrong though, learning is taking place and I am thankful for that. My heart smiles every time I see a child make a connection or hear them answer a higher order question. I so much want to be effective and I don't want to walk away from this experience thinking that all I have to take away is classroom management; although, that would not be an entire loss. I knew going into student teaching that discipline was my weakest point and I am thankful for God's placement in this school and the things I have learned because of it. It is possible this is why I am here and maybe my next placement will help me learn how to be more effective with instruction. Only God knows; and I will continue to seek His guidance. Prayer is definitely the number one thing getting me through this, at this point.