ST Blog – SOLO TEACHING – Weeks 10&11

I did it… I made it through my two week solo teaching period!!!!! WOW ūüėÄ

What can I say – solo teaching is hard. I have been exhausted for the last two weeks. When I came home from my last day of the solo, I took a six hour nap… you could say I was tired.

Although I was only required to independently construct one unit, I took on the challenge of doing two, as the seventh and eighth grade curriculum differ.  For the seventh grade, we looked at economics, including economic basics (such as wants, needs, choices, consumers, and barter), economic systems, supply and demand,  entrepreneurship, and trade.  For the eighth grade, we looked at the origins and history of the Industrial Revolution (IR), IR technology, culture of the Gilded Age, and labor unions.

One of my biggest take-aways from my solo was the fact that I made countless changes to both of my units Рultimately I ended on completely different notes than I had originally planned.  This was a great experience, and totally realistic of what a teacher goes through.  It was cool to be able to make adjustments as I saw fit, according to how the students were receiving and reacting to the material.

I think that I was successful in creating engaging learning opportunities for students.  I diversified my instructional and assessment methods in order to attempt to meet the unique needs of individual learners, and of the needs of the different groups as a whole. I believe that I made the expectations clear and made myself and the material accessible for all students.

One area for growth is my classroom management strategies. ¬†My first week, I did not have to use much strict classroom management because the students were still getting used to me being the authority figure. ¬†However, the second week proved a bit more difficult as students grew more comfortable – they were trying to see how far they could push it with me. I admit that there were situations in which I could have been more firm, but often in those moments I found myself trying to concentrate on the rest of the class and not on the individual student causing the problem. ¬†Also, I had never seen my cooperating teacher send students to the office before, so although I knew that was an option I had, I didn’t feel comfortable doing it myself.

Another area for improvement would be my timeliness in giving feedback to students.  I tried to keep up with grading assessments, but I found myself short of time everyday as I planned for the next. Although I reminded students multiple times of their assignments (and also had the responsibilities posted digitally and physically on the board), by the end of my solo there were a handful of students missing a lot of work.  If I had been more proactive after the first week to give that feedback, it likely would have been easier now for students to finish up the remaining work, with a lighter load.

I really enjoyed creating the assignments for students to complete. In almost all of my assignments for both grades, I created original assignments Рonly a couple times did I borrow lesson materials from online sources.  Although it made it a lot more work, it was a great way for me to not only engage in the content material, but also to make the learning personalized to the group of students who would be working on it.

It was an interesting experience to be the authority figure of the classroom.  For the first time, other faculty members had to speak with me, directly, instead of going to my cooperating teacher (who was hanging out in the library most of the time).  This gave me a more authentic glimpse into the field of colleagueship so critical to teaching.  I got to know some of my team teachers more personally, and supporting educators in my classroom (paras) worked with me to figure out what students needed.

A tough lesson that I learned, that I already knew but never had experienced, is that teaching is hard – there is nothing easy about it. ¬†It’s definitely a profession that requires passion, tough skin, flexibility, and the ability to keep your cool in unpredictable situations. ¬†It’s a job that keeps you up at night thinking about how you could improve, or how your student is doing, or what you’re going to plan for the next week. ¬†It’s a job that you need to love – if you don’t, you probably won’t think it’s worth it. But for those of us who do love it, we will treasure the moment when a student has a break through, the time a shy kid speaks up in class, and the moment when you learn from a student when they are “supposed” to be learning from you. ¬†Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher, and not everyone can just naturally be a great teacher – it takes a lot of work to perfect your craft. ¬†Years of experience, lots of self-reflection, collaborating with other educators, attending professional development sessions, and having the mindset that you can always improve – a lot goes into the profession. ¬†I’m thankful to have had this opportunity in the school that I’m at, and I can’t wait to have my own classroom someday.

Image result for teacher quote

ST Blog – SOLO TEACHING – Weeks 10&11

ST Blog – Week 3

Some important resources:

  • Minnesota Center for Community Legal Education ¬†Mini-Trial Manuel
  • Flag maker website:¬†http://flag-designer.appspot.com/#d=9&c1=3&c2=1&c3=4&o=0&c4=1&s=16&c5=0

This week included a lot of really great discussion. ¬†With all that is going on in the political sphere (Trump’s executive orders ūüė¶ ). It was a full five day week, and I taught a lesson on monarchy for the seventh graders and planned a mock trial for the eighth graders. I got to experience a fire drill (it was planned), which is nice because I know now exactly what to do if it were to happen while solo teaching. ¬†There were a couple of instances with the eighth graders where they really had a hard time being able to be focused during a class discussion – CT had to be more stern than usual to get the point across. During our team meeting, I got to see the process of evaluating a student with a special educator. She asked the staff questions about the student and they had to answer (both short answer and bubble answers such as “Often”, “Sometimes”, etc.)

Some thoughts I had during the week:

  • Talking about Trump’s immigration ban – how many chances do you get as a teacher to talk about a current event that is a constitutional crisis?! Really great opportunity to capitalize on the moment.
  • Controlling a passionate and opinionated class is hard! Sometimes you have to “sacrifice” the curriculum in order to talk about how this teachable moment in history is worth it
  • Inclusion – having “April” sit with group. She’s making noises and moving around, but class just keeps on going. Doesn’t stay in class for the whole period. Always has para with her
  • SBAC testing, mandatory certification – I didn’t have to do it, I won’t be administering test. CT saving me from the trouble
  • CT had to be stern – called out specific students who kept making jokes/faces at each other. “Is this direct enough? You take responsibility or I will, you choose.” Later in class talks to each student, finds out what “really” happened, apologizes to students in front of everyone. Let’s them save their pride
  • Amendments can seem boring, so it’s important to find cases and examples that make it interesting! CT does this well
  • Adjusting curriculum – one student not really doing work, isn’t engaged. CT changed curriculum/expectations for him – I just want you to create “this” product about the right to assemble (he had made a comment last week – “why protest? It doesn’t do anything”). Allowing him to “skip” other content this week in order to focus on this task. This option was a choice. Student said yes, appears to be really engaged. Not distracting others, is actually doing work.
  • students wouldn’t stop talking – CT asked them multiple times to come back, he rang his gong in two different ways, then threatened to put them on “lockdown” in the seats to do work, would send them to the office. “I don’t have to act like that, right? That’s the first time this year I felt like I wasn’t going to get you back. It’s like you forgot I was here.” That got their attention and focus.
  • “Patrick” has hard time focusing, but when I go up and work with him 1 on 1, he does the work. But he needs that constant pushing, which a teacher can’t always provide
  • CT working with “Ross” – acting as a scribe for monarchy worksheet. Talked through it with him. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have done it at all (never really completes work)
  • Mock Trial – I planned most of it, put a lot of time and effort into it. It didn’t go the way I had envisioned it (perfectly, of course), so I was kind of disappointed. CT disagreed – he said that although there were bumps, students got a lot out of it. Second group went better. What they got out of it was the process – saw challenges of being lawyers, how prosecution has burden of proof, etc. Had hoped some particular students would have stepped up to the plate, and they didn’t. Others that I didn’t expect, however, did.
  • Bringing in a guest speaker – we had a police officer come in (a student’s father) and he talked about search warrants (we had talked about the 4th amendment this week). Great “real world” connection.
  • “Lottery” system for 7th graders in order to pick country’s location and size – nondiscriminatory, fairness)
  • CT had been one of the leads on school’s Penguin Plunge fundraiser – happened this weekend, so all week CT was a bit stressed and overwhelmed – understandable!

Teacher Meme of the Week:

Image result for teacher memes

ST Blog – Week 3

ST Blog – Week 2

Some important resources:

This week I had a three day week. There was a snow day one day (YAY!) and then I had to miss a day for an out-of-state basketball game. ¬†One day I got to teach a lesson on Tinker v. Des Moines. The lesson went pretty well, and it had some great student discussion. ¬†I think it’s really important that students realize what rights they have in school, and how they differ (or don’t differ) from those that they have outside of school. ¬†My cooperating teacher and I used this court case to introduce student rights, and I think this case (one of the most important and memorable in this category) was a great one to start with. It was a situation that students could understand (especially with all of the current protests), and one that really got them thinking about their own lives – what can they wear to school? We also had a great conversation about what teachers could and couldn’t wear, and how our position of power changes our ability to express our opinions.

One day my cooperating teacher was out, so I took the lead on teaching, although I had a substitute teacher with me. ¬†I didn’t plan the day’s lessons myself, but taught what my cooperating teacher had organized. For the seventh grade group, we were continuing what we had been working on during the week, and it went really well. The eighth grade group did well too, aside from some students in one class who were talking over other students in our class discussion. ¬†The eighth graders were doing a lot of independent work, and many of them did a lot of good work.

Some thoughts I had during the week:

  • My cooperating teacher does such a good job of making connections in the moment that he might not have anticipated. ¬†There was a situation where a student asked a question that easily could have spiraled the conversation out of focus – but, my cooperating teacher kept his composure and handled the situation perfectly. I hope to have that “coolness” when I teach.
  • “Framing” – something to keep in mind is how you “frame” what students are about to do. ¬†It’s important to set the stage for the lesson by emphasizing key points of learning, relevance to “real life”, and the purpose of learning the material.
  • The first time you teach a lesson, it likely won’t be the best version – you can make adjustments for the 2nd (or 3rd, or 4th) time!
  • Making connections to the students’ lives is important – my example was showing students their own school’s dress code, and asking them what they think teachers can wear – or can’t wear – to school.
  • When absent, making an “overview video” – when my cooperating teacher was out, he made a short video for both classes where he went over what they would be doing for class. ¬†This was great because it not only let the students know of his expectations, but it gave me (and the sub) a better understanding of what was expected.
  • Inclusion – when I was leading a class discussion, I was able to incorporate a student with a disability (on the autism spectrum) that normally does not get to participate very much in class. The student’s para found an opportunity for her to join in on the discussion, and I was glad that I was able to call on her and have her be part of the class.

Teacher Meme of the Week:

Image result for teacher memes

ST Blog – Week 2