I successfully, though a bit timidly, taught my first lesson to a room full of 6th graders. Luckily my CT did me a very generous favor by allowing me to teach the lesson to the period before I was actually going to be supervised. That being said, I was able to revise and improve on how I delivered the lesson, and it went much more smoothly when I was actually being evaluated. At the beginning of 4th period, she had the "troublemakers" go into the class next door to work on a different assignment, so they wouldn't give me a hard time and made it much more possible for me to carry out the lesson! How did I get so blessed? The night before I was having nightmares about teaching in front of a class and particularly worried about those few students who would give me a hard time no matter what! I was so thankful that she did that for me and the weight has suddenly lifted!

Unfortunately, I found it hard to engage the students in anything that requires reading. It is strictly a reading class, but it is almost astonishing to see how many reluctant readers fill the room each day. They enjoyed the lesson, as there was a hands on activity, but it was still difficult. They began by reading a short story from a book of scary stories, and highlighting unfamiliar words within the text. They drew a word from a cup that would be the word they focused on with their partner. Each group received a vocab cube that had some specific questions about their words. The idea was that they would use context clues to find the meaning of the word before going to dictionary.com to find the actual definition. They then used it in a sentence of their own. All of this information was recorded in a box on the cube. After they were finished they cut out and taped the cubes. They turned out great, and I saved time at the end for sharing. 

Now that I have taught my first lesson, I have already made so many notes about what I could do differently and what I could incorporate to make the lesson stronger. But that's the point right? It was a very beneficial experience and I feel great now that it is done!
His face looked a little shocked as a wave of rowdy 6th graders rushed in with the bell. I introduced myself and noting that he seemed very sure of himself and his ability to get everyone on track, I took my position at the front of the room to observe. The usual troublemakers were wreaking havoc as soon as they noticed there was a sub, and surprisingly the "reliable" students were joining in the fun of not having to follow the rules today. The poor guy attempted several times to get them on track and talk over their raised voices and blunt comments. The act of bravado quickly turned into desperation as he glanced my way. I thought briefly, "the poor guy is drowning, they are going to eat him alive." I jumped in helping get the noise level under control long enough for him to give directions. Afterwards, we split up the room to ensure everyone stayed on task. It is amazing to see how different they act when the teacher is "out for the day." It is almost as if they love the idea of making the newcomers life miserable, and find it rather amusing to watch them squirm and push them past the point of no return. 

I learned a valuable lesson about classroom management today and began to process ideas about how I would want my classroom to be ran, and establishing those ideals very early. I used to panic about controlling unruly students, and while I still do to some degree, I realized, you cannot let them get to you, they are just kids...:) The poor sub was letting them trounce all over him and panic was written all over his face. At the end of the two periods it was time for me to leave, he thanked me repeatedly, and as I walked away I wondered, "this is only third period, what is the poor guy going to do for the rest of the day?"
Just this past week a child was abducted in the area, and sadly, she attended the school in which I practicum. You don't really mentally prepare yourself for these types of situations and it is hard to know how you are going to deal with them until they hit you head on. The other day I was using the restroom and I noticed a girl from the class that I practicum sitting on the floor very angry. Another friend was crouched down whispering to her, coaxing her up and to come back to class, but she refused. I said nothing at first, waiting to see what would happen as I washed my hands. A moment later the girl begins to cry, I tell the friend to head back to class and I kneel down to talk to her. A little reluctantly at first, she begins to tell me her story. 
    "This has been the worst two weeks of my life! My best friend was the one who was killed, and my dad will not let me go to her funeral today. I was supposed to but now he said I can't. He already wouldn't let me go to the candlelight walk and visitation, and she was my best friend, she was my neighbor!"
I took a moment to gather myself, having not dealt with this situation before, it is strikingly painful. But it wasn't long before my motherly instincts took over and we had a deep conversation about what was going on. I convinced her to come back to class and I would get a pass for her to go the counselors office. She agreed and I was, luckily, able to do that for her. When she came back to class I helped her complete the rest of her work. She thanked me and hugged me after class, and said that most people just don't care about her like that.
How sad that a little empathy was enough to get a reaction like that! But it feels good to be able to help someone, even if it is small. This was an eye opening experience for me because when tragedy strikes you have to put on a brave face for your students, but you can't forget to show compassion for those who don't understand or who are affected by it the most.
I found this quote today and thought I would share...

"I never thought teaching would be like Freddy Krueger, I mean it is infecting my dreams!"

I think we all can relate to this one, even as aspiring teachers we find our thoughts being over run with lesson plans, ideas, students, etc. I can only imagine how true this will become when we step foot into our own class.

Well, I used to think I would always want to teach 6th graders until I stepped into a class of 6th graders for my first time! Not completely serious here, but I won't lie, I was a little terrified. At the school where I am fulfilling my practicum requirements I am observing an 8th grade mathematics class and a 6th grade reading class. At this particular school they split English into two parts, reading and writing. Let's just say it is night and day difference between the grade levels. At any rate, the reading class is an EMINTS class, so each child has access to a computer. I went in to the practicum being very optimistic until I noticed that the routine for the children was very repetitive and the lessons a little boring. In fact, some children are caught sleeping on several occasions.

Basically, their classes are set into 40 minute periods. They spend the first 20 minutes reading silently or blogging about their books, depending on which day it is, they alternate between their partners. After this they do a mini lesson for the duration of class. In this classroom talking is extremely discouraged, and classroom discussion is at an all time low. There are no "big questions" being utilized to challenge their minds and the classroom is very predictable. So far they have read 3 articles from the newspaper and scholastic all regarding homelessness and then filled out a flow chart online about the main ideas of the articles. Next, they listened to a book on tape for 20 minutes and drew pictures of what they visualized. Not that there is anything wrong with these mini lessons, but what about classroom engagement? The students are at best bored, and uninterested in what they are learning, they don't see the importance of it and it is like pulling teeth to get them to finish the work. When I teach my lesson I want to utilize many of the methods we have read about for collaborative learning and group discussions and I pray I will be able to re-kindle the fire within them.

Last week my CT did have me evaluate a few of the students during silent reading and take notes for her. I called a student to my desk, talked to them about reading in general as well as their current book. I took notes on their reactions to reading and how well they could summarize their stories with details from the text. After this I asked them to choose a few pages to read out loud to me. At this time, I was watching for fluency, word recognition, etc. I really enjoyed the opportunity to work more closely with the students and was able to tell a considerable amount about their reading abilities and attitude towards reading. We will see if next week is full of surprises....!

Latin for "To Teach is to Learn," I found this on a website and thought it would encompass what this blog page would represent. We have all found ourselves on the same path towards becoming teachers, and while we haven't quite reached the end, I think that we can and will all learn from each other through our teaching experiences this semester! 


    Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.


    January 2014