March 2009

so we have a seminar course every thursday night, which is basically 40+ student teachers bitching about stuff and excruciatingly boring

every day i get critiques and constructive criticism from my cooperating teachers, which i take notes on so i can remember what to improve and how
so here are my notes from my first week of full-time teaching

all in all, i’m having so much fun! i actually get up at 6am excited about going to work/school and that feeling lasts all day

Week 1 Reflection

This week I took over teaching 4 classes: 2 US History, and 2 Psychology. There have been ups and downs. Even though I have created unit plans for the next 2-3 weeks, I still felt like I was planning every day for the next day, constantly making changes and revising the plan. The following are my day-to-day reflections.

Monday 3/23
Mrs. O says reading aloud is too easy, not challenging enough, and that I need to teach college skills. Still, they were quiet and attentive, they volunteered to read and answered my questions. Plus they were polite and thanked me for the cookies!
– Do I need to have an assignment for every class?

US History
Mr. S says I got stuck behind the desks and I lectured for too long, need to get students more involved. I tried to change it up during 6th and he said it was better.
– focus on learning students’ names and getting out from behind the desks

Tuesday 3/24
US History
(The lesson was flat and felt disconnected, I was bummed)
Mr. S says there was no clear reason for the lesson – foggy
Need to make clear connections – what’s the objective? Reinforce the objective with the class
Remember they hate history, and to make better connections to what they already know. Remember that kids like the dark side of history.
“Education is to take what they know and connect it to something they don’t know”
– Use their names more
– work on transitioning from small groups to whole class
– must address side conversations during 6th hour
– remember it’s difficult to divide and regroup
– increased and more effective questioning
– establish routines for collecting and distributing papers
+ good proximity to students
+ better at involving students in lecture/conversation

Thursday 3/26
– taught some good internet research skills
– need to notice and reprimand re: dress code violations
– got almost all their names memorized
– felt pretty good about handling questions and challenges from students, comfortable dealing with questions and provocations
– Mrs. O thinks extra credit assignments are stupid because they should focus on completing the “real” assignments
– A student challenged me about the supposedly discriminatory nature of the “what is abnormal?” worksheet – solution: planning a lesson for Monday on respecting cultural diversity and diagnosing with appropriate attitude

Mrs. O’s Lessons for the week for me
1. make connections between lesson
2. balance content and skills
3. slow down!
4. remember that this is all new information for them
5. Repetition is the best teacher (repeat and review and repeat = scaffolding)
6. Don’t be too friendly with the students

US History
– proud that I memorized all their names already
– need a new seating chart to enforce in 6th period to address chatting
– Mr. S says to expect more challenges to my authority as the weeks continue
– Remember to use some kind of guide or assignment to pair with movie clips
– Mr. S’s quote of the week: “your teaching, well, it’s not horrible… but its not amazing either”*
– Good first week, showed improvement
– Plan further in advance
– Don’t allow for any free time, plan for more than 45 minutes just in case

* this just blew my mind, i mean, how ridiculously unhelpful is that? don’t you think most people fall somewhere between horrible and amazing with almost any task they attempt? was that supposed to be encouraging? just think about it – neither horrible nor amazing…

so i started student teaching last week, and tomorrow i take over the classes full-time for 9 weeks

i have 2 sections of Psychology with Mrs. O and 2 sections of US History with Mr. S (i also volunteered to run set design and construction for the high school musical because i apparently want to work even harder than necessary for no money!)

i have to write weekly reflections for class every thursday night so it seemed like a good time to start blogging again.

today i baked 100 cookies for my students; i don’t know why exactly but when i get anxious i bake.

i’m actually very excited to start teaching – to grade assignments and watch presentations, to lecture and quiz…

it’s gonna be great! (but really i just want them to like me!)