Sunday, May 8, 2011

End of the Line

As I approach my final student teaching week, I am overwhelmed with feelings of excitement, anxiety, and pride. I am excited about upcoming festivities: certification event, graduation, and parties galore. I am anxious over getting a job, and preparing for my final days with my current students. Finally, I am proud of the work I have done so far. Since my decision to return to school at the age of 27 as a mother of two, the road has been long and at times overpowering. I owe my husband, parents, and aunt a lot due to their never-ending support. I never once had to miss an internship day due to the health of a child. My family was always there; ready to jump in when I needed a helping hand. Although I have enjoyed my time in the ASU program, I am ready to get out in the real world and begin applying everything I’ve learned.

This last week was a great week! One of my students is known for taking quite a bit longer to finish tasks than her peers. These can be written tasks, as well as anything physical. Well this week, she was on the ball, to say the least. The students began a new chapter book two weeks ago, and just now started to take the reins in regard to completing flow maps and writing a chapter summary. The students were given around 35 minutes to do these written tasks. Only two students accomplished all tasks, while the rest had to take it home for homework. This student was one of the individuals that finished in the allotted time. We were SO excited! It was a huge breakthrough, and something that we were talking about all week. When I asked her why she was able to finish everything, she was brutally honest and said “I didn’t want homework.” Now that I know she can work that quickly, she better watch out. I’ve got her number! J

I’ve noticed that this time of year is tough on a few students. Some are starting to burn out, and have been developing a bit of an attitude when presented with class work. One student, when asked why he didn’t complete an assignment, said that he just didn’t want to. My MT ended up calling in his parents for a conference. I was fortunate to attend, and can say that it was definitely a learning experience. Watching the way my MT communicated with the parents was awe-inspiring. She was an advocate for the student, yet was sensitive to the needs of all parties involved. When things began to get a little heated, my MT was able to switch things around and get everyone back on track with very little effort. To be honest, I am dreading that first meeting I have with a student’s parents. I hope that I can be diplomatic and ensure that all parties walk away feeling heard and with an understanding of what to do from then on.

Good luck to all my fellow classmates as they wrap up their student teaching placements and prepare for graduation. I can't believe we'll all be teachers soon :) Well, long as the dumb economy plays nice.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

All Downhill From Here

(sing to the tune of Take Me Out to the Ball Game) Cuz it's one, two, three weeks then I'm done, with this teaching placement.
Just finished my 5th week in my Special Ed, Jr High placement. I gotta tell you, the last few weeks have flown by!! I have been an emotional wreck, but have finally started to feel at ease in the classroom. I had my first formal observation in this setting, and it went well. The students were great, and the lesson was fun (Science, my fav). I finally feel like a teacher again, and not just a weird floater. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that I have taken over's funny because when I reread my posts from the first placement, I went through similar emotions. You think I would have expected this emotional whirlwind, but no, I just thought I'd walk in, and pick right up where I left off. Um, not so much!

We had an ASU intern in the classroom every Wednesday, and she just finished her hour requirements. We gave her a little going away party and made sure to inundate her with gifts galore! Flowers, cards from the students, Starbucks, sugar cookies, a basket full of teaching goodies, and a giftcard. She was completely surprised. We will miss her dearly!

I have 2 more weeks of full time teaching, and then I can start phasing out. I'll probably teach most of my final week, but I also want to observe other classes/schools, and have a district prescreening appointment to attend too. Wish me luck :)

(P.S. Picture is of me, Mentor Teacher, ASU Intern, and Paraprofessional. A student took the pic, and it's a little blurry, but you get the gist)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Week #4, Gimme Some More

This week has been quite interesting. Students were taking the AIMS all week, so class periods were cut down to only 30 minutes. This shortened time period made it difficult to plan an entire lesson, but somehow I have survived ;) My poor MT has experienced some family issues this week and has had to either leave early, or call in a sub. Yesterday was sub day. We also have an ASU intern that comes in every Wednesday, so we ended up having 4 teachers for only 4 students. I was able to teach all day long, and was satisfied with the day as a whole. I am still trying to figure out classroom management but this week was much better than last.

Next week I have my ASU Supervisor Formal Observation. I am not really nervous...probably because I am teaching a Science lesson. I love me some Science. The lesson is all planned and ready to go, so let's just hope the kiddos are on their best behavior. I received a call from a local school district to set up a prescreening interview, so that's exciting. I'm so ready to have my own classroom at this point. Even though student teaching has been challenging, it has been a fabulous learning experience and I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hokey Pete!

My third week in this new placement was pretty emotionally exhausting. I tripled my responsibility from last week, moving from teaching 1 period to teaching 3. This is no problem whatsoever, as I love teaching so much more than observing. I love teaching and working with the students, but I am really struggling with classroom management. This is so frustrating because I had it down pat in the last setting, so I know I have it in me to show authority. I keep telling myself that this will get better as I spend more time in the classroom, but it is quite the challenge as of right now.
This week I taught a lesson that was an absolute nightmare. I was teaching about dictionary skills and spent a lot of time writing the lesson and developing the materials. By the time it came to teaching the lesson, it turned out that everything I had planned went right over the students’ heads. I was standing there like a deer caught in the headlights and ended up having to just call it a day and plan for reteach the next day. Thankfully, the reteach went great! I spent the previous day making an ABC chart and taping it to each desk because students were struggling with ABC order. The lesson was broken up into smaller steps and this worked well with the students. Of course there were still a few areas that I could have perfected, but I was definitely happier than I was the previous day.
I am hoping that tomorrow and all next week I will be in better spirits. I have to keep reminding myself that I am still learning and really need to learn that it is OK to make mistakes. No one is expecting perfection so I need to just give myself a break.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Second Wind

Ok well I guess I'm over the whole frustration thing already. That was fast! The past few days have been great. I am starting to get really comfortable with the kids and the lessons that I've been teaching.

We had field day today with different schools and I ran into many "blasts from the past". It was like I was walking down memory lane...I saw the staff from the school where I was a Paraprofessional back in 2009 which sparked my interest in Special Ed, was overjoyed to see kids from my first Special Ed placement, and ran into the principal from my first student teaching gig. Looking back, I can say that I am proud of how much I've grown over the last 2 years. I went from being a shy and insecure aide to a confident "almost gonna be" teacher, ready to attack my very own classroom. It's exciting!

I've been sending job applications to a few different school districts (even though I have one that I rrrreeeaaallllyyyy want) and am trying to organize my notes and supplies so I can start planning as soon as I get a contract. It may seem like I am jumping the gun because I practically just started this placement, but I am 1/5 of the way finished here and there is only a month and a half until graduation/certification. Wish me luck :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Let the countdown begin, por favor

While I am enjoying this placement, I find myself extremely frustrated at having to start all over again. I went from teaching full time to trying to "learn the ropes" all over again. I can handle the change in school, curriculum and staff, but having to learn how to teach to new students is really tough. I taught my first flub of a lesson today (well, in this setting anyway) and it was quite disheartening. Maybe the fact that I am only dealing with 5 students versus 25 is the thing that's the toughest for me to adjust to. "Good teachers are always learning and adapting"...this has been drilled into my head for years. What I am experiencing is normal, but that doesn't minimize the frustration. I'm confident that I'll get the hang of it soon enough. I just need to stay focused and remain dedicated to the students. Isn't that the real reason why I chose this profession? For now I'll keep plugging away, trying to remain true to who I am and to why I am here. That being said, only 34 more working days until graduation. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Looking On The Bright Side

Good morning world. Yesterday was my first day in my newest student teaching placement. It went well. I definitely missed my 2nd graders and mentor teacher, but am trying to stay positive and to look on the bright side.

The Jr. High kids are great. I have 5 students in the class that are full time, and one that comes in for Math instruction only. The overall environment for Special Ed is a fabulous one. I am confident that I will have the support needed to really enjoy this placement to the fullest. My newest mentor teacher is a doll. She ended our first day together with a hug, which was super duper sweet. She is dedicated to these kids and will have a lot to teach me about Special Ed.

I start teaching Science this Thursday. It's super quick, but I need to teach ASAP due to AIMS week getting in the way of teaching hours. Yay. =oP

All in all, looks like this should be a pretty good place for me to decide if self-contained is the way to go. I'm hoping the rest of my cohort is having a fabulous time with their new placements. We're almost done, guys!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Saying Good-Bye

This week has been a tough one. As my final days with my second graders were flying by, I kept trying to keep myself busy...the more "free" time I had, the more my heart ached at the thought of having to say good-bye at the end of the week. These students, this classroom, the teacher, the school building...all of it has been like a second home to me over the last 9 weeks. I feel as though a huge chunk of my heart has been ripped out and will remain in these walls, with each of these students, for eternity.

My sneaky little students (and mentor teacher) put together a surprise going away party for me. It took place this afternoon, and left me speechless and on the verge of tears. I kept saying to myself "It's not your last day. You can say good-bye tomorrow." over and over to keep from bawling my eyes out in front of the kids. I love these little guys SO much. They put together two awesome baskets full of school room supplies, flowers, a book full of letters from each student, and a photo album. I will cherish these mementos forever. Good-bye my little second graders. I will miss you more than you will ever know.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An entry just for the sake of a new entry

Teaching is a LOT of work. I knew I would be busy with lesson planning and grading, but this is nuts! I've cut my lesson planning time down substantially but grading papers is such a drag!! It seems to never end, and then when a new week begins, it starts all over again.

Yesterday I had to record one of my lessons. I watched some of it last night, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Aside from my usual oddities like speaking in random accents, pulling weird faces, and messing up words, I think I look pretty decent as a teacher. My final observation in this setting is on Thursday, but I am not too worried about it. Nothing seems as scary as having the principal come in for an observation ;) Bring it on, ASU Supervisor. Do your worst. I got this.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Man oh man are Thursdays TOUGH. The spunk and energy that I start each week has pretty much dwindled down to zilch by Thursday. Today I had to force myself to jump around and teach in a peppy, up beat voice....or we all might have fallen asleep. The kids are worn out and the teachers are worn out.
Speaking of sleeping....Our kiddos have Kindergarten Reading Buddies that they see every other Thursday. Today one of the little Kinders was leaning up against the wall while listening to her buddy read. The poor little love kept slipping lower and lower on the wall as she began to nod off. It's tough being 5 and in school all day. All you need is the robotic reading voice of a second grader to lull you to sleep.

I think I'm really starting to get the hang of this whole student teaching thing. I love the fact that everything I've been learning has shaped me into a better teacher AND a better mother all in one. The classroom management tips and strategies work just as well at home with two bickering kiddos. My favorite thing is when I catch myself using my "faked excitement" voice with an adult. I'm so used to pretending to be just knock my socks of giddy about student input that I start responding that way outside of school as well.

Only 3 more weeks in this setting...the time has flown by. I will have been with the 2nd graders for a total of 9 weeks. I don't want to say goodbye yet!!! They are so sweet and amazing, my heart hurts when I think of not seeing them daily. The positive in all this is that I am completely excited about my next placement. Jr High, which I love, and Special Ed, which I am passionate about. I'm just hoping that the kids are as amazing, and that my mentor teacher is half the woman that my current one is.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Formal Observation #1

Bum bum bum....fear, dread, nerves...that first formal observation is a nightmare! Constantly wondering what you'll forget or worrying that you'll mess everything up, it's a wonder we don't lose our minds.
My observation was yesterday. I taught a Math lesson at the very end of the day, which as we all know is the least productive time of day for 2nd graders who have been sitting in school for 7 hours. Unfortunately, this was the only time that worked out for all parties involved.If you've ever wondered what it was like to be fed to the sharks, try being observed in a classroom of 24 crazy 7 year olds.
The greatest part of it all was the fact that, of course, I over-analyzed everything and worried far more than was necessary. Despite a few mishaps (hey, what lesson is "complete" without them?!?!) the lesson went well. The kiddos were engaged and there were hardly any behavior issues. Hallelujah! The meeting with my supervisor that followed was mostly positive, with a few areas for refinement. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised at the feedback I received from the supervisor.
During the meeting, the school principal just so happened to drop by unannounced. Well, my mentor teacher and supervisor spent 5 minutes telling him all these great things about me (the lunatics). I am sure that I was as red as a tomato!! They talked him in to observing me teach a lesson later this month, AAAH!!!, so wish me luck there!
I have to be honest and say that I left there feeling mighty big-headed. And you know what, it's about time I started feeling confident in my abilities.
Cute story #2: During the observation, I read the book Game Time by Stuart Murphy. At one point in the book a character says "we are going to be Falcon food." I asked the students who knew what they meant by that statement, and a cute little girl looked up at me (they were sitting on the carpet) and said "it means that they are gonna get their butts kicked!"
From the mouths of babes. :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A (no longer) White Blank Page

Tell me now where was my fault, in loving you with my whole heart?

This past week was sooo much better than the last. My classroom management strategies were (mostly) successful and I spent a much smaller chunk of time lesson planning. I feel like I am actually getting the hang of this. Does it make sense that it's easier teaching the full day than it was just teaching mornings?? My mentor teacher said she noticed that I seemed much more at ease and comfortable this week. Thankfully I have found a mentor teacher that loves communicating just as much as I do. I taught a lesson this past week on Fact and Fiction. When I returned to my desk I found a white piece of printer paper that was completely filled with feedback from my teacher. I am so thankful that I am in her classroom. I was initially supposed to be in a different classroom, but this mentor teacher said she wanted a student teacher SO bad. I am glad that she fought for me because this is exactly the type of setting that I needed.

This semester has been amazing. I am crazy about every single student in my placement, even the more "difficult" ones. I am officially half way done with this placement. It is bittersweet because I am dreading the day when I saw goodbye to this 2nd grade class, but also know that it makes me one step closer to getting my degree and my own classroom :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Take it to the limit one more time.

Week numero 3. Wait a minute, this is my third week?! Already?! Seriously?!?!
Being that I am a dual certification major, I will only be in this current placement for a total of 8 weeks. Let's do the math here for a second:
8 - 3 = 5....FIVE! What the what?!?!? Well no wonder why I feel stressed out and exhausted!

This week I am handling morning work, transitions, small groups, whole group FUNdations (phonics), and whole group reading. This puts Mrs. B in charge of the kiddos from 7:58 until 11:00. The past two days have been nutso.
Day 1 - Scramble to get through homework folders, getting lunch count, passing out Apple Valley Pioneer Simulation points, lead two small reading groups while helping other kiddos with their morning work....all in 40 minutes. Did it happen?? No.
Running 20 mins behind, I start my first ever lesson in FUNdations thinking "sure I can bust this out in 20 minutes and get reading started". Did this happen? NO! Again, running behind.
Unfortunately, this was the story of my morning. Forever staring at the clock as the minutes are just flying by. I felt TERRIBLE when I finally finished my (first ever) reading lesson, which just so happened to run 40 minutes later than it should have...thereby pushing my Mentor Teacher's writing lesson 40 minutes behind. Sorry! :( But the kids sure knew their reading vocabulary inside and out by the time I was done with them. That's some consolation.

Day 2 - I wake up with a "can do" attitude and tell myself that no matter what happens, I WILL stick to the time schedule. I get through the morning routine with perfect timing and start FUNdations...ugh, did I really just run over again?! This gives me 30 minutes to build background knowledge, review vocab, let kids preview & predict the story, read the weekly story (while discussing each page), and allow for a closure. Needless to say, I ran over again. Somehow I only ran 20 minutes into the writing lesson, so I didn't feel as bad as I did on Monday.

I am determined to meet my time constraints for the rest of the week. My Mentor Teacher has been awesomely supportive and keeps reminding me that this is only my second day completely handling the mornings, which I do need to remember.

Other than the crazy race against the clock, I am still thoroughly enjoying my time in the 2nd grade classroom.

Cute little story: The students were introduced to "time" in math yesterday. My Mentor Teacher did an activity with the whole class which had them simulating a clock. For example: 12 students stood in a circle and held a number (1-12) to represent the numbers on the clock. 2 students stood in the center, one acting as the minute hand and the other as the hour hand. The class loved it and had a lot of fun. The one SpEd student in the class absolutely hates math. After the clock activity, he asked "when are we going to do math?" and his voice was lined with dread. He looked completely shocked when the teacher told him that we were doing math :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around.

My first week of student teaching was:
  • amazing
  • crazy
  • fun
  • busy
  • exhausting
  • invigorating
and soooo much more. I expected to spend the entire week observing but knew as of day uno that I needed to be ready to push the be ready and willing to break out of my comfort zone in order to really make the most of this experience.
After my second day (which ended at 6:30pm due to a professional development seminar I attended) I came home to a house full of sick family members. Looks like the flu decided to visit. Gotta love the timing! Although it does look like it's passed me by for now...thanks immune system!! You are awesome possum!
Day 3 - My teacher had to leave to get her son from school on an emergency, so I ended up TEACHING. Talk about being thrown into things! I was left to my own devices for a good hour and a half, with sporadic visits from the school social worker (for legal reasons). And guess what? I managed to keep the kiddos in line and get everything that needed to be done, done. If that isn't a great confidence booster, then I don't know what is!
The rest of the week progressed smoothly and I welcomed the three-day weekend with open arms.
Week 2 has been a joy so far. The second grade classes are participating in a pioneer school reenactment until next Wednesday. The students dress up like little pioneer children (ADORABLE), bringing their lunches in baskets and pails, and pretend like we are in a pioneer school. It's a lot of fun and makes me kind of wish I could land a perm job in 2nd grade :)
My responsibilities this week have stepped up quite a bit. I'm in charge of all morning rituals, transitions, small group RTI instruction, and phonics instruction this week.
My biggest concern is the phonics instruction....don't laugh at the reason why though.... we drill sounds and every time I've practiced one particular sound, I manage to mess up quite badly! The drill is "s.h. ship sh". Now imagine what I could mess up here!!! AH! Let's just hope it goes accordingly tomorrow and I don't end up cussing out a bunch of kids.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 1: All Systems Are Go

There's no turning back now! I just finished the first day of my first student teaching placement. I am feeling so incredibly optimistic about the next 8 weeks. My mentor teacher is amazing! I never imagined a 2nd grade classroom could be so fun yet orderly at the same time! If any of you know me, you are well aware of the fact that I am a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to school. It looks as though I've found a placement teacher that will be able to appreciate all the extra time and effort I put in to making things "perfect."

It's the whole "teaching" business that has my stomach in knots. I feel so unprepared for daily instruction...I cannot fathom what it will be like to fluidly and confidently teach these students as the day progresses. In the past, I have taught lessons while (religiously) adhering to a script that I practiced days prior, and usually flubbing those up (aka the whole -ing, -ang, -ong lesson). Now I get to experience what it will be like to teach 6 lessons a day, 5 days a week...with little to no practice. AH!!

I think this experience will be a big wake up call for me. My hopes are that, even though I may struggle and possibly cry at times, I will walk away from this with newfound courage and the belief that I am a great teacher. I couldn't have asked for a better first day! :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

You may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

Over the past year and a half I have written lesson plans-a-plenty, stressed incessantly over tests, pulled research papers out of thin air, read (or briefly skimmed) countless text books, and experienced a variety of intern placements. By far the most exciting part of this journey has been playing the part of "Mrs. B". I fell in love with 26 2nd graders, despite their boundless energy that left me completely drained with a splitting headache once a week. A massive chunk of my heart was left with students in the resource classroom that first sparked my passion for special education. The junior high classroom that brought me to tears on many occasions also provided me with the certainty that these kids needed me, just as much as I needed them.
Now that I am going to start student teaching, I feel just as nervous and unsure as I did my very first day of my very first placement. How fitting that my first 8 weeks have me revisiting a 2nd grade classroom!