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 :)