Vegas 2012

Vegas 2012
Standing in The Paris. My favorite hotel!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Almost December... WHAT?!

            This week was short and sweet. I can’t believe that I only have 3 weeks left, and though they will be a busy 3 weeks, they will be kind of crazy as well. This coming week we have 2 early release days, (Wednesday we get out at 2:05, and Friday we get out at 11:35 – report card day), and a field trip on Thursday. I’m excited, things are going really well, and I FINALLY started my work sample! CRAZY! It doesn’t feel like I have been here for over 3 months, I am sad that things are coming to end, and the closer it gets, the sadder I become.
            My first lesson went really well, Karen did a formal observation on me, and she was really impressed. Made me feel really good! J Turns out that I am teaching my science lessons during writing time, and that I will be missing 7 of my students during that time, as they will be going to get extra help for writing. Should I still include those students in my work sample? They will not be participating in ANY of the activities (which is REALLY lame!) I was able to get my bulletin board done for my work sample, it looks pretty gosh darn awesome! Hiccups for lesson one: Karen and I wanted the students to do a crossword puzzle – we did not look carefully at the crossword before printing and copying it, and it had vocabulary on their that we would not be touching. SO during reading time we had to quickly rewrite a crossword, and then print a new one. Second, I needed to work a little more on drawing out my students in the class who don’t talk as much, and are pretty quiet. Though I was able to get to a few, there were some that I forgot. Other than that, I think that lesson one went really well. Oh! And at first, I had some students that blurted out answers, and talked without raising their hand, I let a few go at first, and then began stamping them out as the lesson went on, but I needed to be a little stricter/firmer about not letting students get away with shouting out answers.
            Question – If I just go through and answer the reflection questions printed on the rubric for my reflection, is that okay? Are there other questions that I should be hitting?
            My second lesson, is my favorite so far (even though I have only taught 2). The students were SO engaged and interested in what was going on with the modern mysteries. It was really awesome to see and experience their excitement. This lesson, I was able to get most of my quiet students to talk/respond. That was really exciting for me, I realize that the more I build relationships with these students, the more I can get from them because the more they trust me etc. I only had a couple of setbacks within this lesson, one was a sentence frame that I gave students was a little confusing, and unhelpful. I was able to fix that, and correct the situation/problem. The last hiccup was a student in general. She is SO smart, but she tends to be VERY needy and literal. Instead of being able to go with the flow, she needs someone to walk her through. This was a little frustrating for me, but I want her to be able to become a little more independent, and so that is my goal for her within my work sample.
            Last, Karen and I are still getting along quite well, she cracks me up, and I am continuously learning new things from her. One thing I have discovered, is that even though she is really smart, and comes from a background of child psychology, and seems to know a lot about her students, she tends to be slightly disconnected from her students. I feel that there are some students within her classroom that I know better than she does, and I know more about what is going on with student-to-students relationships within her classroom than she does. I find this kind of crazy since I have spent less time in the classroom than her, but I feel like this might be a difference in personalities. I think that I want to command my classroom through respect – I want to know my students well enough that I will be able to ask of them a lot, and they will know they can trust me, and I will know that letting me down will be a big disappointment. Karen commands her classroom through this way sort of, I guess I’m not quite sure how else she commands her classroom, and that will be something I will look for this week. It’s not fear…. But it’s close/kind of similar.

Almost Thanksgiving....!!!

This week has been good. I’m so glad that I am moving full time in to the classroom, and that I don’t have classes anymore. (I know that sounds terrible… But I am so burnt, and I am ready for the break!)
            Karen just started a new book that she is reading out loud to the class. I have never read the book myself, but it is apparently one of her favorites. Maybe I am just used to listing to early elementary read alouds, but I am not sure that I would have picked this book to read aloud to a class. The book is based on the true story of Gary Paulsen’s life, and it talks about his alcoholic parents, dirty pictures etc. Kind of a “racy” story (I think) to be reading to 6th graders, but Karen has read the book to her 6th grade class before, and she knows them better than I.
            We have 2 students in our class that have been absent for more than a week. (Not consecutively, I just mean in amount of days.) Karen is really upset that their parents are allowing for them to skip so much school. I wonder why she hasn’t called home to ask if everything is okay, maybe she can’t? I know she has both of their parents phone numbers. Her concern is the amount of education that these 2 students are missing out on, while being at home. I agree, especially when one of the students has missed a total of 11 days so far within the school year, and it’s only November.
            I discovered this week that one of my students is currently living with her aunt and uncle not necessarily by choice. Apparently her mother has a mental disability, and her father gave up custody of her and her brother to his sister. Currently her aunt is trying to adopt her. It really explained a lot to me as to why she is so quiet, talks a lot about missing Hawaii etc. I worry about her, she is such a smart and kind person, and I hope that she will continue to make smart choices. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have parents who are unwilling/unable to take care of you. Karen tells her everyday that she is important, and that if she could clone her and take her home she would.
            This week I ran anther reading group, I think that this time went MUCH better than the first time. I did reading charts again, hopefully spending more time will allow me to get into more of a rhythm with reading charts. Friday, I got to spend in Mr. Bayer’s classroom (another 6th grade teacher) for about 10 minutes while stepped out of the classroom to conference with a student. That was exciting – I felt pretty grown up. Karen and I decided to keep my being there on Monday a secret. I’m excited to surprise the kids.
            I’m really excited to start teaching. My bulletin board/vocab. wall is up and it looks amazing! I hope that these next 10 lessons go well, that I learn and grow a lot, and that I am able to accomplish tons. I still have 2 students that have not yet taken the pre-assessment. I am going to (hopefully if they are there) make sure they get those done Monday morning. I have completed all of my lesson plans, Karen looked over them and is really excited for the next 10 days. She has been, as always, such a great help. I feel that I am truly blessed in 

Week of Crazy! It's November already?! Ugh.

            This week…. All I have to say is thank HEAVEN it is Friday. It feels like it has been stressful, exhausting, and VERY long week.  I was really glad to see the kids. Pretty much the fun and joy they bring in to the classroom continues to make my week better. I’m slightly freaking out at the thought that I only have 2 more weeks until I will be there full time – that means teaching. I was looking at the calendar, and I also can’t believe that in one month, I will no longer see my kiddos L. SO sad!
            I had the opportunity this week to use my teacher voice several times. We got to spend the afternoon at an assembly, (one of the WORST assemblies I have EVER been too… Oiy Vey!) and I got to reprimand, and remind  (several of my students) how to behave in an assembly. Though, I can’t really blame them, it was extremely long, and boring. Haha. (Cool fact?! One of the teachers in our school went to school at McKinney elementary… now she teaches there. Crazy!)
            Karen and I continue to get a long. She wants me to run my first reading group next week, and I am very excited. Reading stations continue to go well for me. I am not as nervous about teaching math, and I appreciate all that Karen has taught me about teaching math.
            I got to have my first confrontation with a student. One of my kids, instead of following the class down the hall to recess, bolted out the side door when I had my back turned. It was a little nerve racking, but Karen wanted me to feel like I had a say, since it was my situation/deal. He now has no afternoon recess for the next week. We had a great talk though, and I think that it was really great for me to go through this experience. Courtney and I were talking, it’s much easier to have teacher voices when our CT’s are not in the classroom. It gets a little intimidating to have teacher voices when they are present. Karen keeps telling me I can do whatever I want, and jump in anytime. I just need to become a little more confident.
            I think things are still going very well. I am making progress on my lesson plans, and Karen is going to help me gather all the vocabulary/pictures for our science vocab. wall. I think that I am going to ask our principal to come and watch me teach a lesson (kind of nerve racking, but our principal seems nice enough, and it will be a good experience for me.)
            I worry about the kiddo in my class who has leukemia, he wasn’t in class on Friday, Karen says he’s been back for some check-up treatments. I worry about him because I know how behind he is, and also how smart and capable he is as well. I just know that next year, he will got lost in the crowds of middle school. Within our class we have 3-4 English language learners that are severely behind. Karen is convinced that a few of them might have LD’s, and I’m not sure that many of them do. I struggle with this, because I know how common it is for students who have a language barrier to get placed into ERC classrooms where they receive academic help outside of the classroom. I just wish that more teachers were trained in teaching ELL students in a mainstream classroom, and that we were better equipped to help these students and their families instead of not. We had a really great speaker come and talk to us within our math class, and her whole ideas and basis for teaching are based in ELL students – even though she doesn’t have her ESOL certificate, and I just thought that was SO cool. I learned a lot, and am hoping to implement some of what I learned into my WS. 

Halloween Weekend!! (LLOONNGG Overdue...)

            This week went really well. I was SO happy to be back in the classroom, and with the students. It felt like I had not seen them in so long, it was crazy!
This week was a lot of learning for me, Karen is still injured and so I did quite a bit of co-teaching (me at the front of the classroom, her from her desk.) It was really great to have you come in and observe me. I thought that it was great for you to be able to see me teach a lesson, where I was co-teaching with not only Karen, but with the students as well. Clearly it had been quite a long time for me since I had taught reading stations. I felt that it went well; the kids had a good time and so did I. They are definitely used to jumping right in to lessons/activities. Hardly ever do I see Karen do an anticipatory set. It’s crazy how self-sustaining they really are, I feel like overall Karen and I hardly do any teaching throughout the day, a math lesson here, and a quick writing/art lesson there… Really though, the kids know what to do and they pretty much do most of their work/learning on their own.
Friday I taught my first real math lesson. I got to learn how to do the math first right alongside the kids on Thursday. Having to get up and teach the concept with confidence was a little nerve racking. Karen provided me with some great feedback however, and I was really grateful for this as I feel she is always telling me how great I am doing etc. Constructive feedback from Karen was: Getting better at scanning the room to see who is paying attention, and who I need to draw back in to the conversation/lesson. I am really great at doing this when I am not teaching, for some reason however, when I get up in front of the classroom I was unable to spot my daydreamers.
One thing Karen and I continue to clash on is how to teach the English language learners within her classroom. I was trying to give one of our students time to figure out a math problem, and Karen was quick to move on. I talked with her about it after the lesson, and she said that one on one is better for struggles this student was having vs. in front of the rest of the class – problem is that it takes away from the other kids, and then they tend to stop paying attention or get antsy. I agree and disagree with her on this, and just wonder if there is a better way to reach our ELL students where they are struggling, whether it is in front of the class or one on one.
I am looking forward to the challenge of creating an environment within my classroom that embraces more diversity. I think that when I teach my 10 lessons I will be sure to use techniques I have been learning about within my ELL class to incorporate those students, as well as find ways to support their diversity and cultural backgrounds. I’m not yet sure how I am going to go about doing this, but I am excited to see what I can come up with.
I’m looking forward to this coming week, as I do every week, plus it means that I am that much closer to being in the classroom again full time, as well as done with my own personal classes. (Well, all accept AR…) Karen is very excited for me to teach, and for her to just sit back and observe. (Though she is such a control freak I know she will never be able to just sit back and observe, which is fine by me cause it’s her class). I decided that this coming week I am going to ask Karen what projects the students are working on and requirements for those projects – I dislike having to tell students to “Ask Karen” whether or not their projects/work meets approval. I feel like in a way, students think that I don’t really know anything about what is going on within the classroom (which isn’t true) and that I’m not that knowledgeable (which is also not true.) Also this upcoming week I am going to run my first reading group, I am pretty excited about that… I love reading, and am interested to see how I do with answering and grading students reading questions.