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    We still have a few things to iron out. If you see any bugs, issues or have any concerns, let us know here in this discussion.

Tybee

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KimberlyH

Ideal_Rock
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Tybee,


Thanks for being interested! It was just an amazing experience. I had to write my plan from scratch (you went through the program so you are probably remember the assignment well!) and then deliver it. I decided to focus on science because it''s not my strength and I need to get used to working in areas that are outside of my comfort zone (math and science). The class had read about meteors and comets in their texts but the teacher who so generously gave up her class for a period so I could do this hadn''t done a lesson on it.


We started by making a list of what the kids already knew, then I read some excerpts from a book called "Don''t Know Much About the Universe" and we added to the list using that information; I also had them take out their texts and use them as a resource to add to our information. I then asked the kids to group up and determine why this information is relevant to us. One group came up with the theory of dinosaurs being wiped out due to the earth being struck by a comet, and I had printed an article about that so I read some of it to them. Then I had the students individually either draw or write (their choice) everything they remembered from the lesson, then the kids shared it with the class. I also used to the overhead and put up a picture of Halley''s Comet and we talked about the structure of it as well as some facts about that specific comet. Then I had the students individually either draw or write (their choice) everything they remembered from the lesson, then the kids shared it with the class. The students were so enthusiastic and interested which made it a lot of fun. One asked me a question I didn''t know the answer to so I told him I didn''t know but that he should look it up and let me know the next time I came to class (I observe in this room about once every two weeks). At the end of the lesson one of the girls gave me a huge hug and said "thank you for teaching us!" It was really sweet. The teacher had me collect the papers and I got to write notes to the kids, which was really cool.


The teacher critiqued me, at my request. Her feedback was as follows: My classroom management skills will need some fine tuning. There were some side conversations going on and I felt really awkward disciplining the kids with their teacher sitting in the room. She also said I need to not ask questions that result in all of the kids shouting out "yes" or "no", I should ask them to raise their hands instead (the noise doesn''t bother me, but she''s not a fan of it and I can see how it would get annoying). The other was that I used a word she didn''t think they were familiar with (friction) and I should have explained it. I also read and speak too quickly so I need to work on slowing down for comprehension. She said I did a really good job, especially for my first time and the negative points were nit-picky, but I wanted her to do so or else I won''t learn. She liked that I was honest when answering questions and took the time to pause during the reading to explain things and check for comprehension.


I think, based on my experience, I will incoprorate journaling into my classroom. Perhaps 10 minutes every morning having the student write down what they learned the day before and at the end of the year they''ll walk away with a book of the things they learned that year. I think it would be agreat way to help them learn to take notes (something I never learned until college, much to my detriment!) and use their comprehension and recall skills.

I am really lucky to have found such a great teacher to partner with. She teaches using responsive classroom, some of the model falls into my own philosophies which is great as modeling is a terrifc way to learn. That which doesn''t is also helpful because I''m learning what I don''t want to do in my own classroom as well.

How long have you been teaching? What grade level do you teach? I''d love to hear about your experiences. Has it been difficult for you to transfer your credential from Arizona to Georgia? I''m concerned about the time it''s going to take for me to do so.

I''m going to start substituting soon (I''m waiting for my emergency credential) which should be a lot of fun and a great learning tool for me.

Wow, this is really long-winded, ask me talk about something that excites me and I just don''t know when to shut up! Hope I didn''t bore you.
 

Tybee

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 26, 2004
Messages
1,602
Hi Kimberly,

Of course you didn''t bore me! I LOVE motivated teachers! Especially since, the longer I am around, the more I find out how terrible a lot of teachers are! The world needs more inspired and excited teachers.

If your lesson was fun for you, then it certainly was fun for them, which is the heart of learning. I wouldn''t worry too much about classroom management yet, that comes with much experience. Soon you''ll have your own "bag of tricks" to pull from, and you''ll learn that what works for one group of students doesn''t work for another, but that''s all part of the adventure.

I am a HUGE fan of having students journal, for the same reasons that you are inspired to have them do so. Sometimes your not even sure what you''ve learned until you ''ve been asked to reflect on it. I also love that you gave them the choice to write or draw. So many of my student are refugees and only just learning to express themselves in English, but they all need to know that their thoughts are valid whether they write them or draw them.

You might want to keep a reflective journal yourself. I had to do one for one of my classes, and found that it really was a helpful tool for me, and gave me great motivation, It also provided me with great time to brainstorm.

I''ve actually been teaching in the classroom since 1996. I got my first job as an assistant teacher in an amazing private school. You might know the type, it was a real constructivist place where students call the teachers by their first name and everyone has a lot of creative freedom. That place made me realize how much I LOVE education in the right setting. I was an assistant teacher there for 7 years... then I realized that it was time to cut the umbilical cord, so to speak, and see if teaching was really my chosen profession (as I had only taught an upper middle class population of children who were riveted to my every word... they actually wanted to hear what I said. I knew that the "real world" of teaching wasn''t always like that.) So hestitantly I left that school when I had the opportunity to head my own classroom in a new charter school for refugee and immigrant, as well as local Atlanta children. It was a rude awakening! Those kids were a bit more rambunctious than my private school kids, plus they stole almost all the materials that I put out for them!

That first year was tough, but a great one too, I learned a ton from those crazy kids, and have been at that school now for five years. Two years ago I entered an MAT program (Master of Arts in Teaching.) It''s a masters and certification program. I went to school full time and taught full time. It was crazy, but SO rewarding! The stupid part of it is that while I got my masters last December, I"m still not certified, I had to take some undergraduate classes in order to have all the prerequisets. I''m kind of doing it backa$$wards, but since I''m in a charter school, I don''t need a certification. I''m currently finishing up my last undergraduate class online. It''s a math class (blech
) but I''m about half way done. I''m hoping to get all my certification paperwork done by January, then I''ll get a nice little raise.

What grade are you interested in teaching? I''ve taught 2, 3, 4 and currently am teaching fifth. I LOVE fifth grade, mostly because fifth graders get to read the best books and write such fun creative writing stories. They also get my sarcasm, that''s a plus!

Good luck with substituting! If you can handle that, you can handle ANYTHING!
 

KimberlyH

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 15, 2006
Messages
7,485
Thanks for sharing with me Tybee.

The school I observe in is a Title I school, but it is located in the best district in San Diego County. This appears to mean that the kids, while often not where they should be as far as learning goes, are interested and excited about learning. What I gather is that their parents have made a choice to live in this district, which is in a suburb of San Diego, as opposed to the city because of the educational opportunities as well as the environment of this city (it''s amazingly prosporous, especially in comparison to bankrupt San Diego). That helps a lot. And every teacher I''ve met seems to be both dedicated and excited about their job. I am aware of how rare this is and how difficult it will be to find a position there. I''m hoping to start off as an impact teacher and work my way up from there because I am in love with the district and more specifically this school.

At first I thought for sure that I wanted to teach 2nd or 3rd grade, but after spending time with these 5th graders I may be changing my mind. They are funny and witty and have, for the most part, acquired all those traits that you mentioned that the younger kids don''t have yet.

My credential won''t be done when I finish the program either, so I feel your pain. I''m going to have to transfer it from AZ to CA, which means I have to take twice the tests and such. UGH!

I''m nervous about substituting but it will be a great way to get my feet wet (more like submerge myself) and I''ll actually be working! I quit my job last May to go back to school and I think it''s time for me to return to the world of employment, but I can''t until the CA Credential Board finishes processing my application (I submitted it at the beginning of October, it just takes forever).

The constructuvist school you mentioned sounds really interesting and fun. It would be hard to be where you are now, having your kids steal supplies! But it would be a great way to teach them honesty and such. Teachers do so much more than impart rote knowledge. I am currently reading Teacher Man by Frank McCourt, I suggest you pick it up, it''s so interesting as it delves into his teaching experiences in NY. Great read.
 

Tybee

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 26, 2004
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It''s a great book Kimberly!
I loved it, and could really really relate.

That first year was tough, but it was good tough.
I still teach within a constructivist frame work, where it''s not MY classroom, it''s our classroom, and the students help create it. All the materials in the classroom are OURS, all pencils, pen, paper are brought to school by the students and myself and shared with the community, I have less stealing now, because these items are provided by the community for the community.

I truly believe that students cannot learn until they feel safe and confident, so we do a lot of team building activities. I have them do a lot of journaling which ends up being just a written conversation to me, I always write back to them too, so that they feel truly head. We have a lot of round-table type discussions to problem solve in the classroom.

Wow, I''m so glad to hear that you are surrounded by dedicated teachers! It seems that so many teachers in my school are really burnt out by the whole "no child left behind" crud, and all the testing, paper work, etc. It feels that they are going through the motions rather than digging to find creative ways to reach the difficult population that we teach. I actually feel that much of what I am teaching (community-building wise) in the beginning of my school year is actually UNTEACHING what other teachers have driven into these poor kids. I am fighting this "us vs them" mentality while I am trying to build a WE society. The kids come in totally angry and without trust, they are subversive and dishonest. I feel like their teachers have really broken them down with punishment and rewards type teaching.

For you I recommend Love and Logic--- I can''t remember who it''s by, it''s on my desk at school, or I would look it up, it''s a really cool way to look at classroom management without rewards and punishment, but with clear communication, giving the students power and a voice.
 

Mannequin

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 16, 2006
Messages
1,733
KimberlyH - Not to threadjack
, but another great book for classroom management is Fred Jones'' Tools for Teaching. I found this to be much better for me than Harry Wong''s First Days of School. I am a second year middle school teacher and the things that Fred covers in the book are very relevant to upper elementary and middle school aged children. It''s basically a training program that you can use all or some of in practice, with steps and procedures to follow in handling everything from disruptive students to sharpening pencils. His website http://www.fredjones.com/ has more info.

Good to see some more teachers around here! We''re into the fun and frenzied last few weeks before our holiday break. My seventh and eighth graders have not quite "checked out" yet, but I suspect I''ll have a few who will need a good beating this week.
 

KimberlyH

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 15, 2006
Messages
7,485
Tybee,

It sounds like you''ve created a warm and safe learning environment, I hope I am able to do the same. I struggle with the concept of rewards (with monetary value or time value) as it has been my experience that in the "real world" most rewards are intrinisic and more often than not, when a person does the right thing it is also the most difficult and least admired. I think children need to be set up to succeed and we don''t do that when giving them a prize every time they do the right thing. I''m going to have to find a balance because I think it''s important that children know when they''ve done well but I find that compliments and praise (a note home to a parent, etc.) are much better ways of saying "great job" than coupons for free time and other such prizes.

NCLB, ugh I could go on forever. My cousin has been teaching for 25+ years in a district in a very poor part of Southern CA. 83% of the kids qualify for free breakfast and lunch programs (just sharing to indicate the poverty level). Most of her 3rd graders are illiterate in both Spanish and English as are their parents. They didn''t meet their testing standards 2 years in a row and instead of dealing with the language barrier issue they sent all these teachers to training. The money would have been much better spent (and the test scores improved) if they had spent it on tutors and impact teachers to help irradicate the language barriers. She said she never felt less professional than during those trainings.

equestrienne: You are not hijacking! I love to discuss teaching and the more people add the better! Tybee asked me about my first time in front of the classroom in the workout thread and it didn''t seem appropriate for me to post a diatribe there so I did it here instead.

I''ll have to hit up Barnes and Noble for the books you both recommended! I find my program spends a lot of time on theories and not enough on the practical stuff...like what do you do when Noah gets up from his desk and decides he''s going to have a private conversation with you while you''re in the middle of a lesson. I had a child do this twice when I taught for my first time last week. I escorted him back to his seat both times and explained that while I wanted to hear what he had to say it wasn''t the appropriate time but he just wasn''t having it. He ended up pretty upset with me but oh well.
 

Tybee

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 26, 2004
Messages
1,602
Hey!

I like having a teacher thread!!!

Idea for "authentic" rewards. I often do a "compliment circle" It''s pretty much student run, and the rules are simple. You pass some sort of "talking stick" around the circle, when the stick comes to each student, they either offer a compliment to someone for something excellent that you''ve seen them do (great team work in the lab, I really enjoyed your creative writing story, you really helped me understand fractions...etc) they can pass (not everyone should have to speak if they don''t want to... otherwise it''s not genuine) or they can ask for a compliment. If they ask, the other students raise their hand to offer, and the asking student can only pick one.

I''ve found that my students can be incredibly kind and generous at this time. They support each other and offer compliments to others that might not be their closest friends. This comes after a lot of coaching from you, though... "so and so is pretty, or "so and so wears nice shoes" are not the compliments we''re looking for, but rather really wonderful things that make the classroom a better place.

The students would so much rather receive positive feedback from their peers than from an adult, so it''s really a powerful tool.
 

Mannequin

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 16, 2006
Messages
1,733
I''m going to start us an official thread.
Other folks welcome to join us, of course.
 

KimberlyH

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 15, 2006
Messages
7,485
Date: 12/3/2006 3:24:37 PM
Author: Tybee
Hey!

I like having a teacher thread!!!

Idea for ''authentic'' rewards. I often do a ''compliment circle'' It''s pretty much student run, and the rules are simple. You pass some sort of ''talking stick'' around the circle, when the stick comes to each student, they either offer a compliment to someone for something excellent that you''ve seen them do (great team work in the lab, I really enjoyed your creative writing story, you really helped me understand fractions...etc) they can pass (not everyone should have to speak if they don''t want to... otherwise it''s not genuine) or they can ask for a compliment. If they ask, the other students raise their hand to offer, and the asking student can only pick one.

I''ve found that my students can be incredibly kind and generous at this time. They support each other and offer compliments to others that might not be their closest friends. This comes after a lot of coaching from you, though... ''so and so is pretty, or ''so and so wears nice shoes'' are not the compliments we''re looking for, but rather really wonderful things that make the classroom a better place.

The students would so much rather receive positive feedback from their peers than from an adult, so it''s really a powerful tool.
The teacher I have been observing does compliment circles. I think it''s a great idea but the students seem to feel obligated to come up with something to share and so often it just ends up being "you''re nice" because they can''t think of anything else. She has students pull names from a hat on Monday so they have a week to figure out what they''re going to say, based on things that occur during the week. I like your method better as it isn''t forced.
 
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