Vegas 2012

Vegas 2012
Standing in The Paris. My favorite hotel!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sorry it's a couple of days late....

This week was really great! (Other than the fact that I was sick.) It was fun to listen to Karen talk about how the kids missed me, and how much they enjoy having me in their classroom. It makes me feel really good inside.
            I think that the highlight from this week was sitting down with Karen (CT) and Debby (ST). It was awesome being able to finally talk about what it is that I am going to be doing for my work sample… Looks like I’ll be teaching scientific inquiry. Kind of scary, seeing how it is that science is not my first topic of choice, nor my favorite. But Karen made it seem like it was going to be really great for me, and I felt really supported by her and that meant a lot to me. I am looking forward to going over some of her past material and getting an idea of what it is that she has in mind for me. I have felt really included in her classroom, and I am enjoying my time with her. I was a little nervous going back in to the classroom, after having been gone for so long. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be received by the kids, but it was like I had been there all week, nothing had changed.
            Something I really like at McKinney is that the teachers have a 20-minute time slot where they re-teach content. Karen used her re-teach time this week to continue to hammer in fractions. For the re-teach time it is very hands on learning. Student’s use manipulative’s to understand and to grasp the concept of fractions. Karen said that anytime I can make something (a concept) hands on, I should. This allows also for different types of learning styles. Re-teach time also allows Karen to address places where kids are confused, struggling the most, even allow time to get certain projects finished up. It’s just a great use of 20 minutes.
            Another highlight, next Thursday is back to school night. I’m excited and nervous. I have only had to deal with parents in dance class settings, so I’m interested to be able to watch Karen interact with parents. Especially interact with the parents of some of our students, since we are a title 1 school, there is very little parent involvement within our classroom. Last year, there were 6 sets of parents for back to school night. It’s just such a sad and difficult situation to deal with. I think that part of it might have to do with the fact that so many of our students speak English as their second language – this creates a huge barrier between parents and teachers.

As for Daniel and I, we are still anxiously awaiting to here from dental schools. It is such a stressful process, but I know that all in good time, things will happen for us. I continue to enjoy my program at George Fox, especially the people in the program, I am so thankful for my fellow classmates, without them I think my life would be so much more stressful. 
The rest of this week, I have taken in strides. I am looking forward to the week coming to an end. It was really fun to be able to work out my CT, Karen. Who knew we would become such great friends. I have also had many adventures, getting to go to the Air and Space museum with my GFU math class was pretty entertaining. Having dinner with my mom was (and always is) inspiring. I am truly blessed to have such a great mother. 
I'm really looking forward to this weekend, my cousin and her husband are coming in to town from Utah to stay for a quite a bit, and I am very excited to see her. I am also looking forward to possibly going camping Friday night? Who knows. Lastly, tomorrow night is back to school night, and I am really looking forward to that as well. It's going to be a really great experience. Also, hopefully this weekend I will be able to catch up on my fall shows... I am already a week or so behind, and it's a little sad. 
Next week... well who knows. As the weeks continue my social life dwindles and diminishes, which is sad, but I know that in the long run all of this hard work will be a truly rewarding pay off. Now, just to make it through. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday, September 13

I can’t believe that we’re September, it blows my mind how quickly this year has gone by, and how fast the summer went. I was really nervous for the first day of school, and totally unprepared at having to get up so early! I have not yet had the privilege of teaching kids over the age of 9, and so being in sixth grade was quite a shock to my system. So far, I have loved every minute of it. I came home the second day of school and told my mother that I loved sixth grade and that this was the grade I was meant to teach. She just laughed at me; apparently I come home and tell her that about every grade I spend time in. I’m just such a passionate person, and every minute I spend in the classroom is confirmation for me that this is what I am supposed to do with my life, and that I have indeed made the correct career choice.
I made it my personal goal (thanks to Mrs. Sue for the stressed importance of the issue) of knowing every students name by the end of the first day. I succeeded. It is the first time that I have ever had to memorize 31 names and faces. I would be lying if I said it was not a challenge. The first day of school I spent a lot of time observing the way Karen set up and ran her classroom. I spent a lot of time listening to her talk to the kids, as well as watching the kids understand her. Karen has a great sense of humor; she is sarcastic, honest, funny, and very to the point. She talked a lot about how important it is for teacher to set up their classroom on the first day of school with an emphasis on rules and expectations. In her classroom Karen has 3 rules: 1. No talking unless given permission 2. Be safe 3. Be kind – these 3 rules closely align with the school rules (makes it easier for the kids to remember.)         
As a child I remember seeing the staff room as some magical place where only teachers could go and hang out. I finally got to spend time in the exclusive staff room club. This year at McKinney they are doing/trying some new things. It was really great to listen to the teachers talk amongst themselves about what they felt was working, and what they felt was not. It helped stress to me the importance of communication as being so key and important among staff members. This is important among teachers teaching the same grade, teachers teaching different grades, teachers and principals, teachers and office staff etc. For a school to run successfully and smoothly (like a business) there needs to be communication among participants/members.
I got to learn a lot of little things from Karen this week – how she sets up her grade book, her planner for the school year, how to store/keep track of worksheets that they will be using for the week, how to set up a successful desk/work station. Karen is a very organized person and she thrives in organization. I feel that for a teacher to be ready and prepared for anything, they need to be organized and prepared. I really like the way Karen sets up her subs/student teachers for success. She keeps all of the weeks work sheets, games, activities filed in a filing cabinet right next to her desk labeled by the days of the week. All of Wednesday’s activities/worksheets are filed under Wednesday in a blue folder (not only are they separated by the week, they are designated colors for quick location.) At the end of the day Karen looks ahead for next Wednesdays planned activities/worksheets and she files them before leaving. This helps her to stay prepared, to know what’s coming, and to keep organized. It also helps substitutes – they know exactly what Karen wants the kids are working on worksheet and activity wise.
Something I learned about myself – I think that it is very important for me as a teacher to build an importance and desire in going to college. I want my students to enjoy learning as much as I have (and still do) and I want them to believe that they are capable of getting to college. I want them to aspire to higher learning, and to great things in their lives, and as a future teacher when I ask the question, “Who wants to go to college?” I want all of my student’s hands to eagerly go up in the air. I know that all teachers believe in the importance of college, but in my classroom college will be something my student’s can and will get to.
This year the Hillsboro school district has adopted the BRIDGES model for teaching math. It is a completely different way to teach math than I was taught in school. Instead of giving kids the formulas and answers on how to solve a math problem, teachers let their students discover, solve, and learn how to solve math problems on their own. They are taught the why and where math problems come from, the why of why we use math and the are allowed to go on a journey with their teacher in becoming mathematicians. When talking with Karen about this way to teach math I thought that it was a little free spirited. Seeing it in action has totally changed my perspective. I think that if I had been taught to do math this way, I would have learned to love math, and been much more comfortable with the subject than I was as a child. Even now, there are things in math that intimidate me, and I can tell that math intimidates a number of the students in Karen’s classroom, but I am interested to see if this way of teaching changes their way of looking at math. Karen has gone into this math program with optimism, and has expressed that optimism to her students – I’m interested in the end results.
Finally, Karen has gone over her classrooms scores and grades within the core subjects. Currently the class that Karen is teaching is working out of a 4th grade level (this is her class as a whole.) There are some students in Karen’s class that shouldn’t even be in 6th grade, as they are so behind (some reading in a 2-3rd grade level.) I was shocked to see that so many of these students had been passed on to the next grade. I remember growing up that if you didn’t pass a grade, you didn’t get to move ahead. Obviously times have changed. As a teacher, I think that this is really unfair to do to both the child and their teacher, allowing them to continue on to another grade when they are SO unprepared. It breaks my heart to work with some of the students in the classroom who are so behind, who have no idea what is going on, and who just don’t understand what Karen is asking of them. How is this fair to our kids? Doesn’t it just set them up for disaster as they enter more challenging and difficult grades? I just don’t see how we as teachers can allow them to continue, knowing that they won’t be able to have success in the next grade.

As for Daniel and I... this week was kind of a schedule adjustment. Since I now have to get up at the crack of dawn, I am having to go to bed earlier as well. I haven't been to be earlier than 11pm in FOREVER. Daniel has made a commitment to try and put himself on my schedule as well, that way I'm not going to bed or waking up by myself. It really means a lot to me.
We're still waiting to hear from Dental Schools. This has to be one of the most stressful, nerve racking situations I have ever been in. Daniel checks his email at all hours of the day. (It's a little out of control.)
Sunday we got to go to dinner at my Auntie's house. We had WAY to much fun. Her and Gerry are probably some of our new favorite people. It was a really great time to sit, eat and talk for hours. Glorious in fact.
Looking forward to this week. Daniel has the next two weeks off, but it's back to school for me. Kind of sad, but I am ready for the fall, and for holidays, and so very thankful football season has FINALLY started. Also, it was kind of crazy, Daniel and I just celebrated our 4 year anniversary. Who knew we were getting so old. It just doesn't feel (or even seem) like we have been married for 4 years already. Wishing everyone a great week!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday, September 4... First Post!

So here is our new blog, I redid the blog so that I can share school with more than family. I'm pretty excited to keep the masses updated on student teaching, as well as what is going on with Daniel and I :) Here is my first week of student teaching at a glance...

So I started off the week very stressed out, sad, and bitter. I was starting to feel a little un-wanted… I was beginning to feel jealous of my classmates, because they were getting ready to meet with their teachers, participate in setting up classrooms etc. I was mad/worried that I wasn’t going to get the same experience. It probably didn’t help that I was stressed, and working myself into a dither… It got to the point where I was questioning if this was actually what I was supposed to be doing. Because if it was, then the Lord would have made sure that I wasn’t going through all of this added anxiety. False. I just needed to learn some patience, because George Fox was doing everything they could to find the very right placement for me.
            I was blessed with the opportunity of being able to go and spend time with a fourth grade teacher out in the Sherwood school district, Lori Beymer. She is a George Fox graduate, and a really nice person. It was really great to be able to attend district classes. The first class we went to we learned about how to maintain flexibility grouping in math. The idea behind the class was allowing students to choose how they get to their answer in math class by asking open-ended questions. This allows for low students to be able to get the solution an easier way, where as a more advanced student is able to get to the answer through a more complex process. Here is an example – The answer is 42. What is the question?
            The next class we were able to attend had to do with flexibility grouping in every day. We learned that the Sherwood school district had to cut teacher aids, as well as the help they received for their tag students. The teachers are very concerned as to how stretch their tag students within the classroom, they have received so much instruction as to how include their low-end students, but they haven’t had enough instruction as to how to incorporate their tag students. It was really interesting to listen to how teachers make accommodations for their students every day. Things like allowing ADD students to use rocking chairs, exercise balls, and pacing in the back of the classroom to keep them busy, yet still included in the classroom. Teachers talked about how they allow students to have bits of freedom in the class, for example picking out what they want to read, helping make the classroom rules, etc. It was really great listening to teachers talk and share about what they know, and things that they would really like to learn more about.
            The rest of the afternoon I got to spend time helping another teacher Dana in setting up her classroom. Just talking back and forth with Dana I really learned a lot, just simple things really, most of it pertaining to how to set up a classroom. The best place to buy materials (like crates from crate and barrel) the best way to store/wash them (using the school dishwasher.) Dana talked about how to buy quality, why? You want things to last a long time, and you don’t want to have to keep buying new things every year. One thing that struck me in my talk with Dana was about how its okay to number children. I swore that I would never do it as a teacher, I have seen how impersonal it can be, and I felt that it was such a degrading way to treat your students. Dana talked about how she felt the same way as a student teacher, but that she learned/realized how beneficial and helpful it is when teaching – and that there are ways to make it personal.
            Lori and Dana invited Courtney and I to come and spend the day with them on Thursday for their next in-service day. They were so sweet, and they made me feel so welcome and wanted. It was great being able to talk to teachers, because at the end of our orientation day on Friday I was feeling more like I was about to be a burden on a teacher vs. a set of helping hands. I was really worried about getting a placement, I have had my fair share of working with a teacher I don’t mesh with, they were the worst couple of months of my life.
            I was really excited to hear about being placed, and then totally shocked that I had a placement in a sixth grade classroom. WHAT?! I have never worked with sixth graders, and I am not sure what to expect. I was also intrigued to learn that I will be in the Hillsboro school district for both of my placements. My cooperating teacher will be Karen Lawson. She’s AMAZING! She’s a total spit-fire and I love it. I got to help Karen build a bulletin board, pretty exciting! She was just so kind, and full of information. We talked about how important it is to plan and be prepared for class, she stressed the importance of planning more sooner so that you have options to pull from, and material to replace/cut.
            Karen’s first piece of advice to me was helping me understand/cope with teaching sixth grade. She stressed the importance of coming out strong, setting up boundaries and limitations, sticking to my guns and being “hard”. She said that if you start off this way its much easier to back off, vs. starting off soft and trying to be harder later. She talked about how she has had some teachers that try to be so sweet, and they just get eaten alive. I’m excited to show her just how tough I am. Talking to Daniel about this made me laugh, he was like, I don’t think she realizes who she’s talking too.
            I am excited to show Karen what I am capable of, and that I am ready to take on sixth grade and find a love for it just as much as I love the younger grades.
            Questions for the week… When I teach my work sample does it have to be something I come up with? For example a mini curriculum? Or is it possible for me to teach an idea the teacher already has… I don’t really want to teach math or science, but if I am supposed to come up with something that’s all mine then I would have too. If I am allowed to teach an idea the teacher already has, then I can teach something I want to teach… like writing. I’m just wondering what exactly I should be talking to Karen about when it comes to my work sample. 

As for Daniel, he is getting ready to end his summer term at PSU. Very exciting. He just applied to Dental schools in Arizona at the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health, the University of Colorado, Oregon Health and Sciences University, as well as Creighton in Nebraska. He has sent in all of his secondary applications as well, so we are just waiting for to hear about interviews. We should start hearing back about interviews within the next couple of weeks to months. Sitting on pins and needles is stressful, only because it has to do with the rest of our lives! Daniel really wants to go to Arizona, even though logic says getting in to OHSU makes the most sense. I really want to stay here, move back in to our house, but I am willing to go wherever Daniel gets in. Either way, this is going to be a very exciting and eventful year for Daniel and I :)