Vegas 2012

Vegas 2012
Standing in The Paris. My favorite hotel!

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!

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