Posted by newbie-tchr at 8:42 pm in 1


Instead of writing the typical post, I think its’ fairly important that I sit and reflect on what I couldn’t do without in student teaching. There are a few things – caffeine, running, Google, my CI – and most importantly – Google. Completely important enough to be mentioned twice.

Why twice? 

For one, my subject area is one I haven’t studied in years. I got a major in it undergrad, but it was one of those things that I finished early and then truly never thought about again. I think, in all honesty, this was a combination of being burned out and jaded. After interning in a politician’s office, I’ve never been able to look at politics in the same endearing light I once was. Which means that after ignoring the topic for three years, I’m totally clueless as to the current events of politics now. This is where google comes in. What in the world did people do before they could quickly type in names, dates, questions and terms into a little bar in the top of their computer and get a million answers? I think I use this function at least 15 times a day.

The other integral Google function would be GoogleDocs. Because of the constant switching from personal to school computer, I’ve found that GoogleDocs are the only way to seamlessly transition from device to device. Not to mention that their presentation function makes it incredibly easy to imbed pictures/videos/etc. (Extremely helpful when planning a unit on political campaigning, where I’ve made a show of just various campaign video ads) It makes it a million times easier too to make something on the internet and not have to worry about uploading or crazy downloads to occur – very time saving too.

The last function has gotten me crazy props from the principal whose whole motto is teaching these kids 21st century skills. Google has this awesome function that allows one to create a website tailored to whatever you want the kids to study. So what I did was create a site about political ideologies, embedded videos, pictures and content-specific text, and then had my students do a very scaffolded web quest. It was such a great way to get some of them engaged that I think this could definitely be something that I use more often. Some of these kids know more about the Internet than most teachers, and it was crazy how easy direction giving was for that assignment. The kids took to it so quickly that I ended up finishing the assignment way earlier than I anticipated. Knowing this I can edit my pacing next time, and now know I can also put more information on the site since they handled it so well.

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Good things!
Posted by newbie-tchr at 8:27 pm in Career planning, Other duties

So going to extracurricular events for students is more than paying off. For one, the kids love it. I went to a senior night for some of my girls who played field hockey, and they were so excited. I went in with my teacher, and the girls cheered for us from the sidelines and some of the other students who were spectators even came over to say hello. Plus, and this is the really awesome part, the principal came over to talk to my teacher and I and dropped the “what are you doing after graduation” question. And when I told him I was moving, but hoped to move back he smiled and said “well I’ll make sure and keep that job open for you.” SO AWESOME!!! Our principal has made comments through out the year about how important it is to show the kids we’re there for them on multiple levels, and I think going to their games and performances was something tangible he could look at. Yes, I guess I’ll never know if he would ever offer me something now, but I’m going to take the hints as a sign that he thinks I’m doing a good job.

The other good thing: totes pumped about my lesson plan tomorrow on George Washington’s Farewell Address. I know it’s nerdy, but I was able to incorporate one of my new favorite sites,  (Link leads to a good TeachersFirst review on how to use it) Because some of the low reading levels in my class don’t allow me to let the kids loose on the entire farewell address and expect understanding, I first created a paraphrased version of the speech, making it easier for them to understand. We’ll read the modified address aloud popcorn style, and then fill out a analysis sheet as a class. (for the analysis I’ll be using APPARTS) We’ll go through the analysis as a class, and then the kids will write their own “farewell address.” The students will write a letter to younger grades at the high school, telling them what legacy they think they’re leaving behind and then focusing on major advice they want everyone to know. Here’s where the wordle comes in – I made a wordle of the Farewell Address, and the kids need to incorporate at least 5 words from the wordle into their own work. Hopefully this will get the kids into it, and engagement levels will be up!

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Ugggghhhh Teacher inservice days. Professional development can be a really awesome thing, but there are times where it can be a very bad, horrible, no good thing. For example, our school district gave the kids Columbus day off and reserved it as a day for professional development for the staff. Up to date, our school’s track record is awesome. Our last ones had the interesting tech stuff I talked about a while back, and I left feeling like I got a lot of really great resources out of that one. This past workday started with potential. To start, we had a guest speaker come in and talk about formative assessments – which was actually pretty good. (As a student teacher who JUST took a class on formative assessments, some was repetitive, but I get that this is for the collective whole…plus it really was pretty good) The speaker had a lot of info, good examples, and I left feeling like I got something out of it.

Then, came lunch, which is always my favorite time. Sidebar – the people in my social studies department are awesome. I only hope that when I get a job, i’ll be lucky enough to find a team like this. It’s so funny how commiserating with people can make everything better.Back to the point – after lunch came misery.

The next three hours of my life was filled with workshop training on how to use the new macbook pros all the teachers got. Yes – quite aware at how incredibly LUCKY they are to have gotten brand new laptops in this economy. The problem was just there was no way out for people who already know how to work a macs, or anything productive for them to do. Yes – I’m a mac snob, BUT instead of forcing me to go through the same training as people who’ve never touched them, why not provide more in-depth training on how to incorporate mac technologies…i.e. Garageband and imovie…into the classroom? OR, even better – let me help people who don’t understand during the workshop. I think the tech gurus were a little hesitant to let anyone besides themselves trouble start or help people perform basic functions, but those of us familiar with it could have helped! I mean come on, the student teachers are all mid 20’s and have grown up with computers. If anyone could assist, it’d be us. (Plus all the student teachers had to take a tech class in grad school and conveniently all have macs)

I’m noting how bitter I sound in this post, but I think my hang up is just that if I’m going to be there and can’t plan – I really want to learn something, and I felt like our time could have been better used. I wish there was a way to poll teachers and ask around to see what workshops they do and don’t want. Do some schools do that or is that unheard of?

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Wait Time = My Everest
Posted by newbie-tchr at 5:05 pm in Classroom management, Time!

Out of all the observations that have come back to me so far, the number one area that “needs improvement,” is wait time. What’s wait time, you say? Only the most impossible thing ever for someone who has no patience for it. In dealing with talkers and those not paying attention, the powers that be have advised me to practice “waiting” for the students to be quiet. Stand up front, and literally wait for them to shut-up, while watching the clock. Not only do I keep forgetting to do this, but it kills me inside. The entire time I’m standing up there waiting, I’m having to hold back what I really want to do – which is to tell them to sit down and be quiet AND i’m counting the precious moments I have left to cover content. With planned testing, I only have so long to cover all my content before an exam, and the entire time the seconds are draining by I’m thinking of how I’m going to make everything fit for the rest of class. Out of respect/desperation, I’m going to try this…I even wrote “wait time” on a piece of paper in the back of the classroom to remind me. But I have to admit, I never thought that waiting for anything would be as hard as this is.

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Back to 5th period…less hopes and dreams are dying.
Posted by newbie-tchr at 3:21 pm in 1

After my last post, I went into teaching 5th period with the mindset that something had to give. My teacher made a comment that really made me think when she told me that “someone is bound to be miserable in this situation – either it’s you from having to work with their behavior, or it’s them having to choose between toning it down or getting referrals.” It sounded so detached, but at the heart of her point, she was right. At the end of the day, I don’t want to have to dread going to school or dealing with a specific class. And if that means cracking down at the expense of their short term happiness – so be it. All of this is fresh in my head until I went into class – and they were uncharacteristically well-behaved.

It’s weird how jarring good behavior can be when you’re not used to it. The entire time I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, since there was just NO way they would be good the whole class. But they were. Not only were they good that class, but they were good for the rest of the week. I’m not sure yet what to attribute it to, but I think it’s due in part to three things.

1. We gave them their interim grades and when some of them saw how bad they were doing, I think/hope it put them in line.
2. Two of the ringleaders have been absent for the past few days…I feel bad reveling in it, but in all honesty – I secretly rejoiced when I saw their name on the absentee list.
3. I stopped getting bogged down with their behavior, and tried just to have fun with the good ones. I had to kick out my first student from that class last week, and instead of letting it be obvious that I was frustrated, I just told myself “I don’t care” and tried to still have fun with it.

I’ll keep tabs as to whether or not this maintains, but I’m starting to think that this might be a class that has their good days and their bad days. In addition to being highly affected by the presence of other students, and my own moods. Who knows, maybe there’s hope for them yet!

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