And we’re off!
Posted by newbie-tchr at 11:16 pm in Firsts, GREAT day!, subbing

Very excited – longterm subbing has officially begun! Today was day two – I was going to update this yesterday, but here’s a shocker: I was EXHAUSTED. Immediate thoughts from only 2 days in the field:

1. Why am I so hungry all the time now?

2. I would not be opposed to going to bed at 8pm for the next few days.

3. I love middle schoolers…they’re both funny to work with and sometimes surprisingly sweet.

4. Someone should seriously consider putting an IV drip of caffeine in my classroom so I have constant access.

5. Huge gaps between sone of my classes…this might be the year I dominate differentiation. As though student teaching wasn’t practice enough.

I’m planning on fleshing my thoughts out more as the week goes on, but I can honestly say that I am so excited to be teaching (finally) and really do love it so far.  Right now I’m in the beginning of a unit on WWII, so in addition to my rantings/questions, I’ll try to share any cool resources I come across!

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It Never Gets Boring…
Posted by newbie-tchr at 7:46 pm in Firsts, Other duties

They never tell you in grad school how to handle bomb threats to your school. Yesterday we had a bomb threat at our school, causing them to evacuate the school for three hours. Cops were called in, and I have to say – they really did thoroughly check the school. Once the teachers were allowed back in, all the cabinets and doors in our classroom were left open from the search.

The whole ordeal was crazy though. The threat was called towards the end of the school day, which meant that AT FIRST – the kids thought it was awesome. An excuse to miss class? Few of them are upset about that. It wasn’t until the school day was over, and the police still wouldn’t let anyone leave that they got mad. Since the parking lot for students and teachers were so close to the building, no one was allowed to get their car and leave until the whole thing was cleared, which was about 5pm.

Talking about it with my students today, it was so funny to hear their reactions. The consensus was “that sucked,” especially the ones who had to leave their backpacks and belongings in the school overnight. (Kids who left before the building was re-opened had to leave everything in the classroom they were in when the evacuation alarm went off) I personally was freaking out since I had left car keys and my cell in the class, not realizing that it was a real alarm and not just a practice drill.

The one crazy thing though was how quickly the news spread outside of the school. For the most part, the kids are inseparable from their phones – meaning that unlike me, they were smart enough to have their phones when the alarm went off. So when the administrators evacuated us to the football field, the kids were on their phones calling parents, updating their facebook statuses, and texting everyone and their mom about it. Phones have come a long way since I was in high school, and it was such a start contrast from any similar drills I went through. It’s both really cool and scary how much technology connects people now.

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This past week was my first time in my student teaching placement, and was full of classroom decorating (so fun), syllabus planning and lots, and lots, of teacher workshops. The school district I’m in has embraced what they call “21st Century Teaching,” aka catching up in technology and incorporating it in the classroom. (Loved it, great idea – but I do think that if I heard wiki one more time I would have poked my eye out.) The workshops they put on were amazingly awesome, and I have to admit that they were far from what I expected. The teachers in my team had spent hours telling me funny, but true, stories of how bad workshops in years past had been, and even they were surprised to see what the district had put together.

For the most part, the presentations and workshops were put on by two very respected companies, November Learning and Stratalogica. The speaker, Alan November, was both practical and motivating – he even had the teachers try out a lot of the tools he was discussing during his presentation. The workshops preceding were equally informative, and I’ll include links to some of the tools he offered at the bottom of this post. Take one, pass it on:)

Beyond my own infatuation with the workshops, there were two different reactions to this I noticed: half the faculty was really excited, the other half looked ready to die. I know that technology can be a difficult thing to learn – my mom still calls me asking how to turn the DVD player on. I’ve been out of the house for 5 years and am 3,000 miles away. Has she stopped calling? No. Why learn how to turn it on when someone else can do it for you – even if it’s over the phone? So from personal experience with my lovely momma, I get it. What surprised me was that when it came time to pick workshops, all the panic-strickened faculty avoided the technology options like the plague. Why is it that when presented with an opportunity to learn about the clearly unknown, these people were the first to bail? In all seriousness, if you know the answer – don’t hesitate to comment, I’m still curious.

The second thing noticed was more about how the process of learning to be a teacher has changed, thanks to technology. Only a 5-6 years removed from the eldest kids we’re teaching, my cohort of fellow student teachers probably qualify in that category of “21st century learners.” In grad school, there is a large focus on incorporating technology – we even had to take a “Teaching with technology” class to graduate. Technology is incorporated in almost every class, using SMARTboards to teach, online assessments and collaboration, even clickers in class for formative assessments. Technology has seeped into teacher education, making it impossible for new teachers such as myself to picture educating students without it. Taking into consideration the reaction of some of the teachers in the field to technology – it will definitely be an interesting dynamic to watch.

For those curious, here are some of the resources given to us during this week – I highly recommend checking them out and seeing if you can use them in your classroom!

  1. – great way to use kid’s obsession with cell phones to your advantage!

  2. Titan Pad – This is great for chats with large groups of people, but be careful – without oversight, can lead to a lot of off topic discussions. This review from TeachersFirst describes it in greater detail.

  3. PrimaryPad – same thing as Titanpad but allows drawing!

  4. Khan Academy – endless resources, the link leads to another review from TeachersFirst

  5. Itunes U – in your Itunes store, this resource is towards the bottom of the page and hosts thousands of podcasts and any and all academic subjects.

  6. Maps of War – great for us History teachers!

  7. Student News Action – a really great place to find resources from all over the world on a variety of topics

Bye-Bye Summer
Posted by newbie-tchr at 4:42 pm in Firsts place in the world!
Tis the day before student teaching starts, where the prepping from one year of graduate school is about to be put to the test. Next week I start a week and a half of inservice, classroom prep, syllabi-building, and of course – Open House. I’ll be teaching government, both general and AP, as well as AP geography to High School Seniors. So far, all my experience has been in 6th and 7th grade, so I won’t lie, I’m nervous to deal with 17 year olds. Middle schoolers are still kids in so many ways that the fact that I’m not much older than them never comes to mind. High School Seniors though? I definitely won’t have the intimidation factor going for me with these kids.

Regardless, I’m ready. I’ve looked at the summer assignment (kind of) and brushed up on government. I’ve even got an entire teacher-approved wardrobe of clothes.  Nervous yes, but definitely excited. Time to get this show on the road!

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