5th period – where my hopes and dreams go to die.
Posted by newbie-tchr at 2:34 pm in Wondering

Am I being dramatic? maybe. Is there a class that’s caused me to get retail therapy two-three times a week? Definitely. At bare minimum, my wallet hates my 5th period. Now going into this whole process, I was told that I’d be dealing with problem students, problem classes, problems in general, blah blah blah. And I’d like to think that I’ve rolled with the punches in regards to a lot of those problems. I’ve worked with students who are always tardy, skip entirely, have troubled home situations, reading problems etc. But how in the world do you help students who don’t want help? My students in this period are almost split in half – one half are good, sweet children who genuinely want help on work and want to learn and get a good grade. The other half – I don’t know where to begin. I have a group of 5-6 girls, who of course are leaders, and are both disrespectful and dont.stop.talking.ever.

I’m trying to take proactive steps by having my University supervisor come in and observe that class that way I can get some feedback on it. Not to mention that my Cooperating Teacher is there almost every day to observe what’s going on – but even she is in shock at how disrespectful and off-task these girls can be, and unfortunately it drags the rest of the class down. Beyond sending a student out in the hall or even to the office, does ANYONE have any ideas or suggestions in dealing with little darling children with severe attitude problems? Beyond, of course, what would be get me fired and or removed from student teaching.

Chaperone? Yes, please.
Posted by newbie-tchr at 6:57 pm in 1

Homecoming Queen!

This weekend was my school’s homecoming, and truly and honestly – awesome. All the teachers in my department encouraged the student teachers to go to the game and dance, telling us hilarious stories of years past. Promises of epically bad wardrobe decisions, crazy dancing, and a hometown football game was all it took to convince me and my friend “Mike” to go. Both of us have a few football players and cheerleaders in our classes, and it was so cute how excited they were about us going to the game. That whole week I had students asking if I was going, and promising to come over and say “hey” at the game Friday. When we got there, the kids were beyond pumped to see us. It’s funny how different they act around teachers outside of the classroom. There’s definitely an awkwardness for a little bit, almost like they don’t know how to react to seeing the human side of teachers. One kid made a comment about how weird it was to see us in jeans…I guess it’s the little things that surprise them?

Even better than their reactions at seeing us at the game was their reactions at seeing us at the dance. At least 5 groups of girls ran by screaming “Heyyyyy Ms. B,” and almost every student I had stopped by for at least a second or two just to say hey and see if I was enjoying myself. My school has had a reputation in the past for having some wild dancing (think rap video – on crack) and I think every kid that came up to me wanted to know what I thought of the dancing, and what it was like at my own high school homecoming. The response from the students was just so overwhelmingly positive, that I wish the other student teachers had found time to come. Even better, the principle of the school came up to Mike and I repeatedly throughout the night, talking about the dance and how happy he was that we came. Best moment of the night – him telling us that showing up to these events tells him we care, and is step one in getting a job in our county or school after student teaching. Helloooooo opportunity! I think Mike and I freaked out at that comment the second he walked away. Before the night was over, the principle and teachers went out and danced for the last song, which was the ever so appropriate “Love in this club.” There’s a good chance there’s a picture of us on facebook somewhere dancing to it, but it was worth it. I’ve never seen a dance crowd clear out faster or, tragically, any students laugh that hard before. But the kids loved it, and my hope is that come Monday, there will be more of a relationship established with a lot of the students who were there and I really got to talk to.

I do have to say – the clothes and dancing were better than I imagined. Joan Rivers would have had a fashion police field day.

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Book Recommendations!
Posted by newbie-tchr at 9:02 pm in Books!, Career planning, recommendations

IMG_4066One Reader, Lyn, mentioned this in a comment, but I agree with her so much I think it’s worth it’s own post. If any teacher has NOT read “Teach like a Champion” by Doug Lemov they should do so immediately! I was lucky enough to have my grad school use it as a required reading for seminar this semester, and I can honestly say it is the most practical book about teaching I’ve read thus far. Too many books are entirely based in theory, and for me, seem to be difficult to translate into real-life situations. “Teach like a champion,” is the first teaching book I’ve read that has specific practical advice, as well as strategies for incorporating these ideas into the classroom. One of my favorite techniques in the book is entitled “no opt out.” The strategy is a simple way to incorporate students whose favorite answer seems to be “i don’t know,” and make them accountable for the information. There’s even a script helping teachers use it – hence this being the most practical book I’ve read thus far.

I also recommend another book entitled “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting together in the Cafeteria” by Beverly Tatum. Unusual title? Yes. I felt incredibly awkward reading this in public. BUT it was such a great read, and I especially recommend it for anyone teaching a history class. Without realizing it, a lot of history teachers have a euro or white-centric curriculum, and the points she makes are excellent for someone trying to incorporate a more accurate and multicultural representation of history. Other teachers can benefit from it too, but as someone whose passionate about history it really hit home in regards to my content. Not to mention that Tatum’s a well regarded academic with a Ph.D in psychology and works with students, so her perspective is both academic and practical. My school in particular seems to be racially divided by tracking and student choice, so a lot of the points she makes in the books have made me feel more aware of the effects this can have on students. If you have a free minute – read it.

Lastly, all history teachers out there – you MUST read “Divided We Stand: Teaching about Conflict in U.S. History” by James Percoco. Percoco taught for years in Springfield, VA and even won a Teacher of the Year award from USA today and the Walt Disney Company. In the book he gives a lot of great ideas for classroom activities, as well as ways to infuse your curriculum with hooks to get students interested. I’ve used several of his methods in my government class already, and so far they’ve all been successful. It’s a great book to motivate you to make history class more interactive – just read it and trust me!

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Wrapping up Unit 1
Posted by newbie-tchr at 7:09 pm in They LEARNED!, Web finds that work

This week will wrap up our first unit in “Foundations of American Government,” and I thought I’d quickly share some really great resources I found online.First is this video from Soomo Publishing.The video is a youtube video so if your school system filters youtube, you’ll need to figure out a way to rip it at home and bring it on a flash drive.

I can not speak more highly of this video. It was a great way to hook all the kids into the Declaration of Independence, and led to a great conversation afterwards as to why it was “too late” for the king to apologize to the colonists. Every single kid loved it, and a few kids came up afterwards and asked if we could watch more of these.

The other awesome site that I found was this Constitutional Convention game. I used this as a learning center, and created graphic organizer for the kids so that as they went through and played the game they were able to catch the valuable information.

Lastly were some primary sources I found from this collection from the Library of Congress. I selected 6 primary sources from this site, and assigned students into 6 corresponding groups. Each group was assigned a different primary source and had to analyze it using APPARTS. (click here for info on that!) The groups had to fill out an APPARTS graphic organizer and then present short summaries to their classmates. In addition to summaries, student groups also had to present an argument as to how their source best showed how the Continental Congress had global effects. After all the groups had presented, the class took a vote as to which primary source was best. Great way to incorporate primary sources and make it fun!

1 comment
Reflections from a crazy week
Posted by newbie-tchr at 6:55 pm in 1

Exhausted.For the past three weeks, I come home from student teaching and sit. I literally just sit on my couch and sit. Doing nothing but sitting and thinking of what kind of caffeine there might be in my house. In every way possible did I underestimate how exhausting standing for 8 hours a day, planning, teaching, grading papers and being a very awake individual can be. Don’t get me wrong – I love it. But I legitimately question how anyone taught before the advent of Redbull.

Someone else mentioned this, but beyond exhaustion – it’s so weird getting used to not seeing daylight for 8 hours. We’re in an older building, and our classroom is sans-windows. Not to mention that old buildings = wack heating systems. I’ve found that layers of clothing is the only way to function for that long.On the bright side – this week I taught my first solo lessons and was observed by my University Supervisor. Luckily, everything went awesomely AND the behavior problems with my problem student were a non-issue. She responded beautifully with positive attention, and has actually been incredibly well behaved ever since. I’ve made a point of going out of my way to say hello to her everyday and ask how she’s doing, and she’s started opening up a lot more while simultaneously behaving better. Proactive behavior management has definitely been effective in these past few weeks!

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