Monday, September 7, 2009

Say what?

I have been following the controversy about President Obama’s upcoming address to the school children with interest. The talk radio is all up in arms about Obama’s speech because supposedly he is using it to indoctrinate the youth of America and turn them into mindless socialites.

I don’t know if that is true because what the White House is saying he only wants to talk to the children about the importance of school by doing your best and staying in school. Even though I don’t support the President in just about anything does, I have no problem with him telling my children to do their very best and stay in school. In fact this is not the first time a president has addressed the children nationwide. President George Bush did it in 1991 when he addressed school children with the message about taking responsibility for their learning and to not blame others for their failure to achieve.

I do not fully trust what Obama might include in his address. Fortunately because of my student teaching I will be in the classroom for the address I will know what he will be saying so that if he does say anything that I find objectionable I can talk to my children and explain how their father and I feel. After all, as parents their education is our responsibility and it is one we should take very seriously. I only wish they would have given parents an opportunity to preview his address so we could talk to our children first or in the extreme case opt them out all together.

My children will be allowed to watch the address tomorrow and we will be discussing it with them in the evening but that is my husband’s and my choice and no one is going to tell me other wise. I am just glad my children do not attend school in Tempe because if they did they would certainly not be attending class tomorrow. Dr. Arthur Tate, the superintendent of the Tempe Elementary School District #3 has decided that he knows best how to parent the children in his district. He has stated that President Obama’s speech is purely educational and he will not permit any parent to opt out of the address. Say what? He won’t allow a parent to exercise their parental rights because he doesn’t agree with their decisions.

I am just stubborn enough that even if I had absolutely no problem with the address I would still pull my child out for the day. How dare you tell me as a parent what I can or cannot do? Just because I sent them to school does not mean I give up my parental rights or responsibilities when I do so.

Fortunately most schools understand parental rights and authority. Last year I needed to pick up my son early from school because his sister had a play she was putting on at school and he wanted to support her. I wasn’t sure what to put down for the reason I was taking him out of school so the school secretary said I could write down that it’s none of the schools business or even because I can.

School is very important and it’s important that children have the opportunity to attend, but never forget that as parent’s we are our children’s first teachers. Parents will always know their children better than anyone else so let us make the decision whether not they will be allowed to listen to the President’s address tomorrow.

To read the superintendent’s own words please see this link

Sunday, August 30, 2009




well-advanced or competent in any art, science, or subject; skilled: a proficient swimmer.

I am proficient, at least that’s what my college supervisor and cooperating teacher had to say after my first evaluation. There were many things they liked; however, they were also quick to point out that I had several opportunities to improve and they are absolutely right. My first opportunity to correct would be to not trip on the overhead cord when I walked past it. Second would be to actually let the students answer the questions when I asked by giving them plenty of time instead of answering it for them. Also I really need to make my expectations clear and tell them exactly what it is I want them to do before I let them start doing it. My last transition was a little sloppy. The evaluation was helpful and they both gave me some excellent ideas to improve on the areas where I was not as strong as I could be.

The best part about the evaluation was that the kids were good. I did not have to scold anyone and I only had to tell one boy who asked about 10 times when lunch was. I told him that when math was over it would be lunch time and to focus on his math until then. Other then that I couldn’t have asked for a better class. The funny thing is that in this class there are a couple of boys and girls who notice everything and either comment on it or ask about it, but when my supervisor came in and sat down nobody asked why she was there and I was very glad. I was a little worried if they knew she was there to evaluate me they might act up.

I am so relieved to get the first evaluation behind me and now only have two more to go. I think I will teach a reading lesson for my next evaluation and by then hopefully I will be more proficienter. (Before you get all worked up, I know it is not proficienter, I will be gooder sooner. J)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Top ten things I have learned so far from student teaching.

1. Teachers spend a lot of time preparing for class. There are lesson plans which can take several hours to put together. This is due to needing to get the materials together for each lesson. Do you need worksheets or transparencies, will you be using thinking maps, and are there books that you plan to read to the students that compliment your lesson? Getting this together can take a great deal of time. In fact it’s almost like having two jobs. One is preparing and the other one is you teach. Then when you add on to that all the faculty meetings, the continuing education teachers are required to have, and teacher parent conferences, there are barely enough hours in the day to get it all done, let alone spend time with your family. No wonder teachers’ need summers off, they need the time to recuperate from the year.

2. Teachers are also performers. You have to keep an audience of 25 six to seven years olds attention on you so you can deliver the lesson. Under ideal conditions that can be difficult but add to that the students who have to go the bathroom or they are going to die, or the students that are starving and need to know when lunch is, to the students who decide right in the middle of a lesson that a drink of water sounds like a fine idea and just gets up and walks over to the water fountain. Some times I feel like a little kid is saying, “look at me, look at me!”

3. It is possible to get a child to behave with out saying a word. I am mastering the glare. So far if I can catch the eye of the misbehaver and give them the look I have been pretty successful in getting the behavior to stop.

4. It is best to stock up on Band-Aids. If a child comes up to request a band-aid it is often best to give them one even if you can’t actually see the wound that is causing them such excruciating pain. I have also found that if one child is seen getting a band-aid suddenly other children find their own injures that also need band-aids. In just the first two weeks of school I have already bandaged more children then I can remember.

5. You need to have incredible bladder control. You can let a student use the restroom if they need to, but you can not leave the classroom to take care of your own needs and leave the children unattended. Can you imagine the chaos if you told them to work on the lesson and you will be right back? Desks would be overturned, children may be hanging from the lights, paper wads flying; no it would not be a pretty site. Instead you have to hold it as long as you can or call down for an aid to come and watch your class for a few minutes. You could restrict liquids but in Arizona that is not really a good idea. Right now its not a problem because my cooperating teacher and I can take turns so one of us is always in the classroom. What I’ll do when I get my own classroom is any ones guess considering I am the one no one wants to go on a road trip with because of my habit of stopping at just about every rest stop along the way.

6. Spending the day with kids can be a lot of fun. Children have a unique way of looking at the world and teachers have such a wonderful opportunity to see the world through their eyes.

7. Getting a hug from your students at the end of the day makes you feel recharged when you feel like you have been ridden hard and put away wet.

8. Half days are not really half days. The kids get to go home early, but teachers keep working until the end of a regular school day.

9. Teachers really need the support of parents. It would be nice to have parents come in and volunteer, and not just for parties, but any time. Teachers can always use an extra set of hands in the classroom. Teachers need to know that you back them up when they need to discipline your child and that you are aware of the homework they are doing.

10. Teachers should be proud of what they do. They work hard under conditions that are rarely ideal in order to prepare the next generation to lead the world. It is a hard job but a very important profession and one I am eager to join.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When the student is ready to learn the teacher will come.

If my journey to become a teacher had a title I think it would have to be When the student is ready the teacher will come. Over the last two years I have been blessed to have just the right teacher at just the right time. And now that I am student teaching that holds true more then ever. I have been with my mentor teacher for almost three weeks now and I think she is incredible. I have learned so much from her and gained so much confidence in my ability to teach since stepping into her classroom.

I had thought that I would be able to post more frequently about my experience as a student teacher but she keeps me really busy. As a student teacher, I am required to keep our mentor teacher’s hours so there are days when it is almost 5 before I get home. Add to that the Saturday mornings we spend at school preparing lesson plans for the following week, getting the materials ready for each lesson, and a family to take care of, I found I have very little time for posting.

But as busy as I have been and as sore and puffy as my feet and ankles have been the last three week I am having the time of my life. The schools, the teachers, the kids in my classroom have all been wonderful. To tell you the truth I really need that. I had hoped to student teach at the school where I previously worked in the cafeteria for the last three years. I had assumed that since they knew me that would be no problem, but when they were asked not one of them volunteered. My feelings were a little hurt but I moved on and accepted that I would be student teaching at another school. Imagine how pleased I was when one of the other second grade teachers said when we were working one Saturday how I should stay and help the other second teachers get ready for curriculum night when I was done helping my teacher. I laughed and said you had your chance when they were asked who wanted a student teacher. She told me I should have seen how fast my teacher’s hand shot up and how many other teachers had wanted a student teacher. It really felt good how much I was wanted, especially after feeing so bad when I left my last school.

I will be spending nine weeks student teaching; I just wish it could be longer. Due to the length of time I have I must move quickly from observing the teacher at the beginning of the year to assuming full responsibility for the classroom. By the start of the seventh week I should be doing it all. Right now with supervision I am planning the math and social studies lessons and I am teaching them as well. I am just now starting to write the lesson plans for the reading program called Foundations and will add reading, and then finally writing.

As I come to the end of my third week I will be having my first evaluation. The evaluation will be a math lesson using technology. At my school that means using the overhead, which is good because they are fairly user friendly. My mentor teacher and my college supervisor will watch me teach a lesson and evaluate my lesson plan and how I implemented the lesson. I will be teaching a lesson on how to use a number line to perform subtraction. I feel pretty good about my lesson and I am feeling pretty confident in front of the class.

It amazes me how much I have grown in just two and a half weeks. When I first walked into the classroom I was a little unsure and worried that maybe, just maybe, I would be one of the very few people they talked abut at orientation that would not make it through student teaching and would be asked to leave. Now I find myself thinking things like when I get my own classroom I am going to do this or that or I would teach a concept this way. The thought of having my very own class makes me feel all bubbly inside. Just give me a classroom and I will show you what I can do!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I have arrived!

Today is the day where all my hard work has come to fruition. Over the last two years I have taken 37 credit hours which included 95 hours in many different classrooms learning classroom management and teaching methods, prepared 18 lesson plans, several of which were actually taught, and I have taken 12 midterms and finals. I am pleased to say that after all that work it came together when I walked into the classroom today to begin the next phase of my journey; student teaching.

For the next nine weeks I will be learning the art of teaching under the supervision of a cooperating teacher. Like most of my experience with school this too has had its share of bumps along the way. Initially I was going to do my student teaching last March but was unable to meet that commitment and had to reschedule. I knew there would be no problem completing the requirement to student teach in August so I spent the summer enjoying my time off with my kids eagerly waiting for the name of the teacher and the grade I would be assigned to. Time passed and no word on who I would be working with. We had our orientation meeting at the college to prepare us for the experience and they still had no idea who my cooperating teacher would be. Soon it was the week before school and still no assignment. I sent an e-mail and did not get a reply. The Thursday before school was to begin I sent another e-mail and on Friday I received word that I had a teacher. Interestingly it was the same day that my cooperating teacher found out about me as well. They asked Friday morning and she said yes. Neither she nor I had any idea who the college supervisor would be. My cooperating teacher and I met Saturday so at least on the first day of school were could focus on the students and not worry about having never met each other. When I returned from my meeting with her I learned that the college supervisor had finally called to introduce herself to me and everything was set. If that wasn’t cutting it close I don’t know what is.

The first day was a good day. We met the children on the playground where they line up and led them to class. It was so wonderful seeing all the bright eager faces. They all looked so cute in their new clothes. I think we have a good bunch. We spent the morning learning each others names, the procedures and took a tour of the school. Fortunately for me the new school is almost identical to my last school in design so I should be able to get around pretty easily. The teacher read to them just before lunch time. The afternoon was spent with math manipulatives, more reading, a little show and tell, and finally writing in their journals. It is a full busy day and towards the end if the day there was more than one child asking when they could go home because they were tired.

The entire student teaching experience will last 9 weeks. The first three weeks I will be observing with limited responsibility. The next three weeks I will assume more responsibility by teaching lessons, preparing lessons, grading papers and taking care of the many routine tasks such as attendance. The final three weeks I will assume even more responsibility until I am doing everything. At the end of each three week period I will be observed and evaluated by both my cooperating teacher and my college supervisor by teaching a lesson to both of them. These evaluations will determine whether or not I pass the class and will be allowed to be certified.

From the moment I began this journey to becoming a teacher I knew I would eventually end up student teaching. To be honest there have been moments when I truly doubted my ability to do so. The fear that I was nuts to think I could do this at times was very great but there have been other times when I have felt that yes I can do this, I can teach, and I can make a difference in the lives of the students I will have the privilege of teaching.
Today I can say that in nine weeks I will be a teacher and I will have the certificate to prove it.