Reflections of a New Teacher

These are my reflections beginning from my first few days as a student teacher and on...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Blog Revival

If it isn't already obvious from the lack of posts since, oh... OCTOBER, student teaching got really busy! And then it was over, and then I had a ton of stuff to do including finding a job and finishing my last online course which *should* have been done a long time ago (but never let me sign up for a self-paced ANYTHING again...)...

I think I need to start this up again. I GOT A JOB! Yay! Back in April. I'll be at Landmark Academy at Reunion in Commerce City, CO. I'll be a first grade teacher!

I will add more to this later (I HOPE...) but it's late. I just needed to make some attempt at revamping my blog, since I have training in LESS THAN A MONTH!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I am Awesome

Student 1: Miss (me) is really good at that!
Student 2: Yeah, I know, she's so good at that...

They were referencing tracing pattern blocks.

Yes!! I am awesome at tracing!!

Haha... gotta love the things that are important to kids ;o) I should be a professional tracer.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mathematical Reality Check

Monday, October 2, 2006

Grant Writing: The New Century Graduate

Friday, September 29, 2006


Sunday, September 24, 2006

I can't say enough how much I love the teachers at this school. They are all so wonderful and supportive... and inclusive. The primary teachers even invited me to brunch at one of their houses today!

The house: cute. The food: excellent. The company: couldn't be better.

We talked quite a bit mostly about not-school-related things but a little about school too... it was a nice mix. My cooperating teacher and the 1st grade teacher both got married over the summer, and we watched bits of the 1st grade teacher's DVD from her wedding. It was beautiful... story book quality. Cinderella would have been jealous... and that means a lot coming from me, I'm a wedding photographer so I've been to a lot of weddings!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ralph S. Mouse

It all started about a week ago when I was in the classroom next door and the 1st grade teacher and I saw something little and dark brown skitter across the floor in a flash. It disappeared somewhere around her couches. She really doesn't like mice, so she gave a little "eek!" and ran around trying to figure out what to do. I tried not to laugh and to be more sympathetic... for some reason mice don't scare me. They only annoy me sometimes when they chew things up, make a mess and leave droppings where they made the mess. I figure they're a lot more afraid of me than I am of them anyway.

After we searched for the mouse for quite some time, the 1st grade teacher left a note to the custodian that went something like this:

"Eeeeeeek! A mouse is in my classroom! Let's set traps!"

I thought it was cute. By this time she was laughing a lot too and we had been there pretty late so we were both pretty hysterical.

We decided that it must have been fate that it was only that day that I had started reading "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" to our second grade class for read aloud. I've secretly named our mouse Ralph, but the other teachers don't want to name it because they're afraid we'll become attached to it. Did we call on Ralph to come visit us?

We've had Ralph sightings almost every afternoon since. Usually, for some reason, I'm the one who sees him. They set the spring traps with peanut butter, but they weren't working. The custodian thinks ants are eating the peanut butter... we think it's a smart mouse licking it off.

New traps are on order, but I still say that we should just make a 2-liter bottle trap. We used to do it all the time when I was a kid... take an empty 2-liter bottle, put some food at the bottom of it, set it up on its side and make sure it's easy to get into. Voila... the mouse crawls in to get the food, but then he can't get out because the sides are too slick. Then... you can either be humane and take it outside and let him out... or put the cap on and put it in the trash. It usually works really well. Oh well.

Yesterday after snack there were a lot of crumbs on the floor. My cooperating teacher asked them to clean up the crumbs "So we don't get mice or ants or anything". Since we're reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle, of course half of the kids made remarks like, "That would be soooo cool!" Little do they know... we haven't told them yet.

It turns out my cooperating teacher doesn't like the mouse at all either. Yesterday I saw him but managed not to let her know until a student who was helping us after school was gone because I didn't want her to have to get upset in front of the student. He's getting braver every afternoon... this afternoon I saw him run across the room from the bookshelf behind my desk (which is by the partition that separates our classroom from 1st grade) to the sink, then back again, then back again... needless to say this did not make my cooperating teacher happy. For the remainder of the evening she stomped and clapped to hopefully deter him from making an appearance.

I'll keep you updated on Ralph. Sorry to say that the next update will probably be a little mouse obituary if the new traps come in.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

You Have Chicken On Your Face

There are so many things I could say about today and yesterday, but I'm just too tired to do it right now. SO, let me share with you what is sure to be one of my funny teaching stories.

As some of you may know, I'm not big into wearing a lot of makeup if I bother to wear any at all (especially because it makes me break out). I did wear it for the first couple of weeks, but then of course I started breaking out and decided to go sans makeup for this week. I have a few blemishes on my face... but that's kind of usual for me. I've never had terrible skin, but it's never been great, either.

We were sitting down to read aloud and snack this morning. We were starting a new book, so I was introducing it and answering any questions that the kids had. One girl raised her hand emphatically just as I was about to start reading, so I called on her.

"Um, Miss? You have chicken or something on your face." (she points to her cheek)

"Oh, thanks... but that's a sore. That won't come off."


And I'm thinking... thanks for pointing out my blemishes ;o)

So, yeah. Apparently a zit looks like chicken on my face? Interesting word choice :o) I won't forget it though, that's for sure...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Tattling vs. Telling

-teaching the lesson
-read aloud
-author's club
-ice cream chart

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Author's Club

My cooperating teacher came up with a really cute idea: Rather than calling it "journaling", we are going to call it "Author's Club". We spent the morning creating posters with ideas for writing (the students can write about whatever they wish) and also the "rules" for the "club".

When she introduced the idea to the students, each child opened their composition notebooks to find an envelope glued to the inside front cover, each with an invitation inside. They opened their invitations to see that they were each invited to join the "Author's Club", every day after lunch in the second grade classroom for the rest of the year. We started brainstorming ideas for what the kids might do in this "club", and they were all genuinely excited... even the students that tend to let their minds wander away. They were so excited, in fact, that when we ran over in time from the introduction we cut into math time a bit so that they could actually start "Author's Club". Having the main lights off and the reading lamps on was key.

Though there won't usually be an assignment for the author's club, as this is their time to practice their writing skills as authors in whatever they choose to do (there is also structured writing time, don't worry traditionalists), we started out with their "Authority" page as the first thing they'll see when they open their books. The teacher next door got the idea from her master's class. Since they're all authors, of course they will be an authority on several things. This is a place for them to brainstorm ideas of what they are an authority on, or what they can write a lot about if they experience writer's block.

Author's Club Rules:

  • You are NEVER done! (once you're done, you've just begun)
  • Respect other author's writing time, no talking
  • Write about things you love and know a lot about
  • Every page must have writing on it (no pictures only) (there can still be pictures)
  • Respect yourself as an author and ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST!

Types of Writing that YOU Can Do:

  • talk about your day
  • letter
  • poem
  • story
  • play
  • report
  • list
  • comic
  • newspaper
  • magazine
  • who am I?

The kids are all super psyched. It's great to see.

On another note, today was picture day so that was a lot of fun... everyone looked their best and did a great job of waiting patiently in line! I must admit that I stole a peek into the room to see how they were set up, but I couldn't tell what camera they were using from a distance.

After school, we met as a team (all of the primary teachers) to plan back to school night. It was great to see what everyone has planned and it gave me a lot of good ideas. Basically, back to school night is an opportunity for the parents to visit their child's classroom and the teacher (that's us) gives them an overview of what their child's schedule is (roughly) like each day, what their child will be learning, how they can help at home, what to expect, etc. It should be good, but we also prepped each other (well, mostly new teachers :o) ) on what kinds of questions to expect from the parents.


Q: "My child is a genius, way above the rest of the class. What are you going to do to challenge him/her?"
A: "All teachers differentiate their lessons to be sure that they are appropriate for all learners."

Q: "All of your volunteer slots are full. When can I come in?"
A: "I can add your name to a contact list and contact you as we need more help with classroom activities."

Q: "What is a typical day like?"
A: Avoid this question by introducing this first, save yourself the repetition

Q: "What is this new intervention-block thing?"
A: "An opportunity to get extra help for struggling students in reading and math, which gives a smaller teacher to student ratio."

Q: "Yeah, but what is my genius going to do while all the needy kids go away?"
A: "Every student will benefit from extra reinforcement. This time will be devoted to making sure that every student is getting the instruction that he/she needs and making sure that they are each challenged to do their best." (I helped with that one ;o) )

We're excited for the parents ;o)

The only thing I've found is that sometimes with this group it's hard for me to get a word in edgewise without interrupting anyone. I feel like I need to raise my hand ;o) Oh well. Maybe I should and make them laugh.

I decided to stay after school for quite a while today, I was there an hour after my cooperating teacher left (my choice) because I can concentrate much better on lesson plans here at school than I can at home. I've been working on planning my Teacher Work Sample, which is basically a complete unit that we plan and teach on our own... with a ridiculous amount of write-up involved. Even then we don't have to do as much for ours now as they used to have to at CU. I can't imaging.

At any rate, my unit will be on patterns in math. I'm actually pretty excited for it. Aside from the district/NCTM standards there isn't a regimented plan to go off of, so it will be a good experience. My unit will last about three weeks, and it's coming up soon: September 18th! I've been searching through books, teacher's files, and the internet to find ideas. I've been working on a rough timeline and brainstorming ideas for lessons. Yesterday I went through my cooperating teacher's math books and found a few story books that deal with odds, evens, squares, counting by fives and math puzzles to introduce lessons with. It should be fun. I'm hoping to get most of my teacher work sample done while I still have the energy.

Idea of the Day: I decided that in my future classroom for quiet writing time that rather than christmas lights or reading lamps... I want Chinese lanterns! Strings of small ones to line the outside of the classroom, and maybe bigger ones above each table. Let me know if you see any on sale anywhere.

Why is it Always in Pairs?

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Tuesday is playground duty day. The teacher next door and I have duty time together (student teachers can't have sole responsibility).

9:45am (morning recess): as one boy walks up to me with a bloody hand from falling down, I witness a girl trip and skin her hand (extremely) on the rough chip-sealed blacktop. All within about 30 seconds. We send them both to the nurse through the tears and hope she doesn't think we're abusing the kids.

1:45pm (afternoon recess): As a few kids get my attention to one boy who was stung by a bee and is sitting on the ground holding his leg, another boy is simultaneously knocked in the head with a tether ball and proceeds to lie on the ground. As we send them both to the nurse I have to ask the mob surrounding them (the "helpers") to stay on the playground and ask each "victim" to choose one escort. I heard that another girl snuck through with them anyway. Tricky tricky. Now we're pretty sure the nurse is up to her ears busy.

My sinus problems weren't any better today, and we've still got a classroom full of "ailing" children. Seems it's going around, but we had to have a discussion (or at least my cooperating teacher did) about only going to the nurse if you REALLY need it. She read "The Little Wolf who cried Boy" to get the point across (that's a cute book, by the way). We'll see if it helps.

At either rate, I must have used hand sanitizer at least a million times today, every time after I blew my nose... I probably used it to the point that it wasn't effective anymore. As the kids were getting ready to go home for the day, one of our young "know it all" or "gift to the world" students says to me, "You know you should really use some hand sanitizer." Yeah, thanks for that, I'll log that away. (I didn't say that to her... just smile and nod... but sheesh give me some credit here.)

Rock Stars

Friday, September 1, 2006

It's days like today that help me to remember why it is that teaching will be a rewarding career. It may seem silly, but it's always the little things that count.

Friday is our Bus Duty day. Our bus duty has nothing to do with the bus. Go figure. It's kind of like crossing guard, but not really... it's more like "make sure kids don't get hit by parents coming out of the parking lot" duty. It's actually kind of nice to get to stand out there and just take it all in... to see how each of "my" students gets to school, when they do... but be it by scooter, bus, car, bike or foot, they each arrive with a smile.

But I'll tell you what made me smile most, the tiniest little thing: the father of one of our students shouted, "My daughter loves you guys!" and waved through his car window as he pulled out of the lot. Like I said, it's small and rather silly (I'm sure it was mostly aimed at my cooperating teacher anyway) but it's just things like that that really make you feel appreciated. We both blushed a little, smiled and waved... kind of brushed it aside... but I can't say that it didn't make my day. Little does anyone know that teachers are actually rock stars. Or at least, that's when I feel like when you can't walk through the playground without kids shouting your name and wanting to say hi or talk to you :o)

I love the community around this school. Gossip aside, I haven't met anybody that hasn't been very welcoming... I already feel like I'm "part of the family"... and I realize that you don't find this everywhere, and it's not usually this easy. For that I'm thankful.

It was my cooperating teacher's birthday today, and some of the parents had tried earlier in the week to coordinate with me to have a little celebration for her (which she said she didn't want) during Friday Free Time at the end of the day. Well... when I found out a few days before hand that she was going to take the afternoon off for her birthday, we had to switch it to a morning celebration. Hurray for a lax Friday morning full of cards, presents, sharing, doughnuts, muffins, juice and fun! The only bummer is that we really didn't get a whole lot done ;o) My cooperating teacher *might* have anticipated that though (or she just asked me if they were doing anything and you know that I can't tell a lie when asked directly so I might have told her) so there wasn't much planned for the morning anyway.

Since my cooperating teacher was gone for the afternoon, we had a substitute. She was the nicest, sweetest lady ever. It seems to be the trend that retired classroom teachers come back to substitute... though I don't blame them, it's still some cash but they can also still be around kids without the day to day commitment. When they walk out of the door, they can leave it all "at the office". They also can take more vacations and pretty much work when they want to... so that part is nice for them. They aren't as desperate for the money to pay the bills.

Since I'm more familiar with the classroom and the students, I pretty much ran everything while the substitute played the role of the "helper". Now, before you give me too much credit here, realize that it was a fairly easy afternoon: I did the read aloud, sent the kids to music and p.e., helped them brainstorm C word and D words for their ABC books, monitored their progress, monitored them during their Friday afternoon movie (in place of Friday Free Time, from now on referred to as FFT), handed out their Friday Folders, read them another story, then sent them on their way home (followed by bus duty again). Really an easy day. Nonetheless, the teacher next door told me that she overheard me and said I sounded like I was "born to do it". I think she's exaggerating, but very nice of her all the same ;o) (Okay, fine, it secretly made me happy but don't tell anyone because I'm trying to be modest...)

After school I got to have a nice chat with the substitute, and she was great. She gave me all kinds of ideas and hints for when I'll be (hopefully) substituting next semester (since it's unlikely I'll have the chance to get my own classroom until the Fall). I also found out that she knows a few kids who are on or will be going on Semester at Sea, so of course I couldn't help but to talk about that for a while... any chance I get! She was even kind enough to send me a follow-up e-mail for a question I'd asked her and she wasn't sure about... without me asking or her even saying she was going to do it. So sweet.

Overall it was a great day. Follow it up with a trip to Target that proved the teacher supplies that were in the dollar section to be on sale for 25 cents each and yielded 5 dollars and a full bag's worth of supplies ready for next year, and you get one tired but happy pup. (Hurray for calendar supplies, pencil holders, magnets, stamps and containers!)

Irony of the day: The one day I can't shower because there isn't any water, I have five people tell me that I look nice. Must be the jacket?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Read Alouds, Math Assessments, and Hypochondriacs

I wish I could breathe out of my nose. That would be nice. Then I wouldn't have to walk around with my mouth hanging open half the time ;o) I'm sure it looks quite sophisticated.

I have been pleased to note that even since the first day of school my read alouds have been very good by my standards. Now, I don't claim to be a great read-aloud artist or even a good one... goodness knows that I've got a lot to refine with my "voices"... but I've improved so much that I'm extremely happy. I used to get really nervous, stutter a bit over my words, and my throat would get very dry. Now... none of that really. None of the adrenaline, no more stuttering, no more dry throat. I guess all of those bedtime stories I read to the kids that I nannied for really helped a lot :o) It may sound silly but read aloud skills are very important.

Much to the dismay of the kids, today marked a transition from much of the beginning of the year, back-to-school "fun" to more serious matters in math... assessment. For the past week the kids have been doing "free exploration" with their "math tools"... basically playing with their math manipulatives like the pattern blocks, buttons, geoboards, etc... which of course the kids love. In theory it gives them a chance to become familiar with them and kind of get their urge to build and play with them out of their systems. Take that from yesterday and fast forward to today... a full blown written math pre-assessment.

My cooperating teacher did a great job preparing the kids by leading a discussion to make it clear that we only wanted to know what they already knew and that even if they ended up leaving the entire thing blank that it would be okay... to think of it as seeing all of the cool things that they were going to be learning and to do their best to try them. Even then... some of the kids were just short of a panic attack. We spent most of the time reading questions to the kids (though we couldn't tell them what the words meant... that was hard) and reassuring them that there was no reason to be upset. My cooperating teacher says that it went better this year, though, since she talked to them first... last year there were tears. Oh, goodness... I'm torn. On one hand preassessments are a great way to see where your kids are, on the other hand they really stress them out. I don't know. I just hate to see kids developing anxiety so early... at all.

Speaking of kids in ill health, just about the entire primary population is "suffering" from every ailment imaginable, of course. Talk about testing boundaries. "My head hurts", "My tummy hurts", "I'm coughing", "My lip stings", "My eye stings", "I bumped my leg on my desk so now I'm going to limp around for an hour"... and the legit one, "I threw up". We had one student sent home yesterday because she threw up, but other than that it's been a constant battle of trying to keep from sending students to the health center over every little bump, scratch and ache. We did send one student who is new to the school this year to the health center today since we don't know much about her yet and she was coughing and crying. However, I'm a little disturbed at the fact that one of the parents of the students that did not complain to us said that someone in the office told her that her daughter had been in the health center a lot today. My cooperating teacher was busy at the time so I couldn't confirm with her to tell the parent, but I told her that I hadn't been aware of it. Well, turns out my cooperating teacher never sent her either... so either she'd been going there when she was supposed to be in the restroom or other playground monitors or paras had sent her when she was not under our supervison. It's something we'll have to address tomorrow. I don't get it.

On another note, I think I've decided that I'm going to do my teacher work sample in Math on Patterns... only bummer is that the unit is supposed to start on September 18th, which will be here very soon. That means that I've got a lot of work to do! The unit on the curriculum after this is too fluid to be a good work sample... each lesson picks up where the last one left off and is entirely based on where the kids are in their learning. This one is much more concrete and will be easier to write lesson plans for. The unit after that, geometry, would be easiest but it comes too late in the semester to be used for my math sample. So, patterns it is!

The only problem is that out of all of the units in the second grade math curriculum, this one has the least clearly-cut literature available... not in investigations or any of the other math books available to me. That's good though, I guess... will give me more experience at gathering resources I suppose. And what could be better than having a cooperating teacher and a doctoral candidate in elementary math to help me? I'm going to use these resources while I've got them ;o)

P.S. Our water pressure has been low all evening, but suddenly there is no water coming out of anything. Nada. Sinks are dry, toilet isn't filling, bath tub and showers are dry... so we're figuring that one out. Looks like another late night... and let's hope I can take a shower in the morning :o(

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Not on my "A Game"

Today I'm just not on my "A Game", as Chris would say. I don't know whether I've got a light cold or if it's just severe allergies or even a sinus infection, but I've taken more pills for sinuses in the last week than I have in the last year. I just can't "deal with" the symptoms when I'm around the kids the way I could in class before... usually I avoid medicine at all costs. Yes, I've been taking my vitamins, etc. Anyway, whatever it is, I woke up at around 4:15am with itchy ears and a nasal cavity so dry that it was extremely painful. By the time I got back to bed around 5am, I only had about an hour until I woke up again... and I'd had a hard time falling asleep the night before... so overall it just wasn't a great sleep night. Now not only am I dealing with the lack of sleep but I've still got the symptoms even with the medicine. My head is in a cloud and I just feel really slow. Lucky for me there isn't much that I'm in charge of today...

I observed the literacy teacher testing students with the QRI and I even did a practice one along with her, so that was a good experience. For all of you non-education people, the QRI is a system for assessing a student's literacy level. As they read a passage we follow along on our own sheet, noting any differences such as any word omissions or additons and of course any words that they might have problems with. There is a section for testing comprehension at the end. After that I had a few students read out loud to me, and they're all great readers. The best part was trying to explain the "investment" on which Muffy earned "interest" in "Arthur Loses his Tooth" to a second grader who definitely doesn't know about investing money. Hehe. Another student cracks me up... he's been reading a book about CU Football, and he'll call me over to show me pictures from all the games he has been to. Funny thing is that the pictures are from 1988 and 1995... he wasn't born yet :o)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

No More Bullies

No More Bullies, No More Victims. I thought, going in, that this little workshop they had for the teachers after school would be something I'd just have to sit through before I could leave early for my student teaching co-seminar. When the time came, I didn't want to leave.

(I need to finish talking about this seminar)

On another note, I had the kids completely to myself in the classroom for about an hour today while my cooperating teacher did literacy tests. It was my choice entirely... I knew I could handle it, it wasn't anything too difficult. It's silly, but I was still pretty proud of myself, being that we haven't even been in school a week yet and we aren't supposed to do much but observe until the third week. I did a read aloud with "Arthur Writes a Story" to continue with our Marc Brown author study, then we had a discussion about the settings in the story. It was the second step in a series of discussions (reviews from 1st grade) of elements of a story... yesterday we talked about characters. I introduced their worksheet, did an example... and though it wasn't very complicated I was happy to see that I explained it well enough that there weren't any confused students... hurray! After they were done I helped them finish their all-about-me-t-shirts, make bookmarks, then instructed them to silent read.

I thought I had been doing a fairly OK job with classroom management (for you non-teachers this is actually the hard part)... until my cooperating teacher walked in and made them all quiet down. I'm still learning what noise levels are acceptable for an open-classroom school (with only partial walls)... and I'd also equate it to something like the ageless example of the frog in the pot of water that eventually boils. Students slowly transitioned from an activity in which a soft buzz was acceptable to an activity (silent reading) that needed to be a bit more quiet... also I guess I just didn't notice how loud it had gotten. I mean, it wasn't very loud by normal standards... but for an open classroom with some students reading it was too loud. I'm hoping that I don't mess that up too much more because the students are definitely testing their limits with us right now, they definitely see me as a secondary figure, and I'll definitely have to work hard to keep them from walking all over me. It's all about setting standards and being consistent, I know.

Teacher's Lounge Culture: There is a big to-do about whether or not lounge duty should be required since it's not in contract. On the one hand it is a community area and if nobody were to wash the dishes they use, etc. it would be a mess (though one would hope everyone would just clean up after themselves)... on the other hand not all teachers use it so they shouldn't have to help, but then again it's hard to monitor who uses it and who doesn't. Aaaaah, and so we see the forever challenges of government at even the simplest level.

Blunders of the Day: Be more assertive when asking a student to hold the door on the way to recess so I can be sure to monitor the students that are already out there, don't let the students get so loud while some are silent reading, when drawing an example self portrait don't make it "so good" that a few of the perfectionists try to do it that way and spend the entire time erasing and asking for help, and don't help to the extent that I did when they ask.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Beginning of a New Week

Blunder of the Day: This morning I got here a few minutes before my cooperating teacher (a miracle), and Friday's schedule was still on the board. I made a note to myself to erase it, but went to run an errand and make copies before I did. I returned just before the kids walked in and rushed to erase the schedule to get ready for the new one... but it was the new one. My cooperating teacher walked in halfway through and said, "Oh... that was the new one..." and I could tell she was trying to hide it but I could hear the disappointment in her voice. Haha, if I were here, I would have been rolling my eyes. I'm sure it's not a big of deal as I feel like it is, but I felt absolutely awful and stupid. I should have waited until she was back in the room so I could ask to make sure... but there's Sarah thinking she's being helpful again. Haha maybe I'm the second grader? In my defense it was the same color and Monday looks a lot like Friday... argh. So I wrote it back up (insisted that I did it instead of her, no reason to make her do it again since it was my mistake), but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the same and that I left some things out since not everything is listed in the planner in a way that the kids understand, and some things are inferred. I feel really bad about that.

Other than that, business as usual. The day went fairly well... here's to the first full week :o)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Whew... I survived the first week...


Friday, August 25, 2006

It's funny how things change when suddenly you're "for real". I was in this school for practicums all of last year. Granted it was only for a few hours here and there (and all day one day a week last spring), but I pretty much at least recognized just about everyone when I came back to school. The big difference is that now everyone treats me like a real person since I'm here all the time. I think the formal introductions helped a lot, but rather than just walking by me staff members will stop to say "Hi, Sarah!" and will genuinely engage in conversation with me. I don't feel so out of place in the teacher's lounge any more, and I feel less like an intruder. I understand it, I mean, there are lots of practicum students at this school every semester... but I still have to chuckle to myself. I've made a transition in status, and I must admit that I like it. Everyone has been very friendly... at least to me.

-again with the violent play grr
-this recess-then-lunch thing really sucks
-i need to work on read aloud management
-of course the district supervisor and principal stop by when i'm alone and the kids are loud

First Day of School!


Thursday, August 24, 2006


-issues with "touching", student wants to give me a massage?
-issues with violent play on the playground
-so cute!
-of course some lessons too short, others too long
-5th grade TP!
-read aloud
-can i have a boyfriend and still be a good teacher?
-teacher bag of tricks too long... can i stop being complicated?
-printing issues and laptop bags
-the numbers, not gonna lie, not big fan of CSAP
-shot down with sunglasses and sunscreen and water bottles (reading)
-reflections w/ cooperating teacher

Meetings, Planning, and Meet the Parents...


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Another place holder... parents scare me :o)

School starts tomorrow... Eek!

-enjoy communal supplies
-some bring extra, some less
-getting people to fill out forms
-explaining to parents
-seeing student made my night (time out: ADHD, TV, and food...)

Funny Story: Tonight I was typing away at my keyboard in the office when my boyfriend looked over his shoulder and in a "nah-nah-nah-nah-boo-boo" tone said "I can tell you're stre-essed". "How?" I asked... even I hadn't realized that I was stressing out until he mentioned it. He laughed and said, "Because you're singing to yourself. You always do little things to make yourself happy when you're feeling stressed." "Well, at least I'm not broken..." I giggled. It always feels so good when somebody notices something about you that even you yourself were not aware of. He's so good.

Yoga at the School Year Kick-off Meeting?


Monday, August 21, 2006

Wow, that really was not what I expected. In a good way.

I arrived at the building for the beginning of the year all-staff meeting at 7:40am just as I had hoped to. The little room echoed with happy chatter and soft reflected sunshine danced on the walls, which were covered in wedding and racing decorations. It didn't take me long to find some familiar faces inside, and soon after I greeted my fellow student teachers my cooperating teacher walked in and led me to our table and then to the breakfast line. How dare they have pain au chocolat! I have a particular weakness for the chocolate-filled French pastry... but it was so very good along with the fruit salad.

My cooperating teacher buzzed about the room talking to everyone, and every now and again stopped to apologize to me for talking too much ;o) It's okay, don't worry, I'm a big girl and you haven't seen everyone all summer... and just got married! There is a lot for her to say. I will admit that I feel like I have a bit of puppy-dog syndrome... I had to make a conscious effort not to follow her everywhere. I think it shows a bit of insecurity on my part that I'm trying really very hard to fight. On the one hand I don't want to appear as though I'm not sociable, but on the other hand I don't have much of a history with these people yet and I'm really not good at creating small talk. So I just listen in on their conversations, haha. At the same time I don't want my cooperating teacher to feel like I'm constantly buzzing over her shoulder and I want to give her some space... so I followed her some of the time but then made myself go sit down to finish my fruit and pastry. The last thing I need is for her to get sick of me.

Luckily the people at our table were very friendly and introduced themselves to me. It was great to put some names to faces. And guess who should be sitting across the table from me? A very nice woman with whom I had a class at the university! We can't remember which one, but we each look familiar to the other and we know it was an education class for sure. She already did her student teaching last semester, but was a para-professional at this school for quite some time before she went back to get her certification and came back to do the same this year. She is also finishing up an online course just like I am and will also graduate in December. She has a daughter that is my age :o)

Now, since I am still figuring out what exactly it is that paras do, it might be useful for some of you here. Near as I can tell, to put it simply they are helpers for the teachers. Some might work directly with special needs students, some might help with reading or math groups to aid as another instructor, and at times they can even help with clarical work like filing and copying. Sounds wonderful. Until last semester I never even knew there was such a thing but it's such an awesome idea... with 25 kids you can always use some help! The kids get more attention. I think the teachers get a certain number of para hours per week based on how many students are in their class.

Another place holder... we did yoga at the meeting! Got to "meet" everyone...

The First Day of Preparation...

Friday August 18, 2006

One of the first things they told us to avoid at our student teaching meeting was gossip. "Don't listen to it and don't participate in it. People will remember what you say and it could put you in a bad position. We also need to respect others." Funny they should mention that.

The first day back and while out to lunch what should happen? Gossip at its finest. It's pretty hard to avoid without seeming rude... what am I supposed to do? Cover my ears and go la-la-la-la-la? I do my best not to add to it at least, but... it's just unavoidable in a profession full of females. Here we go.

I'm not necessarily going to disclose what the gossip was all about because that would just be ironic, but I will say that I'm disappointed in how some staff members speak poorly of others. We all just need to have a little faith in each other, that's all. It reminds me of how I want to try really hard not to get on someone's bad side... the thing is though, you may never know that you are until it's too late. Wasn't high school over a long time ago? I just really hope that nobody ever talks about me that way. I'll try my best never to do the same to another teacher and hopefully the teacher gossip karma will reward me ;o) I'm nosy by nature so I can't say that I'm not interested in what is being said, though. Sometimes it's useful stuff to know. Oooh help me.

Other than the gossip, can't complain. My cooperating teacher is great and the teacher next door, who just completed her first year of teaching and did her student teaching at this same school just in the Spring 0f 2005, is also very nice and very willing to help me with anything I need for which I'm very grateful. We got some good planning done and I'm quite excited for everything to come. Lots of copying and creating and making things pretty. Not to mention the fact that my cooperating teacher bought me lunch. How nice was that? We worked on making a planner for the semester, which the teacher next door said she'd go to Kinko's to bind. I wanted to give her money for it but she wouldn't let me. Grr.

I read some of the Lucy Caulkins books on the writer's workshop over the summer, and I really hope we can follow her model throughout the year. It will be nice to finally put everything that I've learned in my education classes to use! I was able to return the books today, since I borrowed them from the school. My cooperating teacher is going to look over them since I think it's new for her too. I really hope it works out.

Now we're ready for the weekend and then it's a bright-and-early 7:30am meeting in a building that is not the school but for the entire staff of the school. I don't really know what to expect at all... but I know there will be food because up 'till 8am it's supposed to be a continental breakfast. My cooperating teacher told me that it would be best to show up at 7:45am, haha. I guess that's all the time you need to eat a muffin :o)

On another note, the principal introduced himself to me for the fourth time since last year today. I can't really blame him, but still kind of funny. Once for my fall practicum, once for my spring practicum, once when I interviewed him for my thesis, and then today. He's very nice and welcoming... but I know who he is by now. Haha. It's okay if he can't remember my name. I did cut 14 inches off my hair in the summer... hopefully he'll remember my name now though :o)

Friday, August 25, 2006


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Nine hours of driving (minus lunch and a few stops) and one red-eye flight later, we landed at DIA a little ahead of schedule (LOVE Frontier Airlines). We made it to baggage claim just before midnight Wednesday night, yet by the time we got our luggage into the car, out of the car, and after I printed all of the materials I needed (or thought I did) for the student teaching meeting I didn't get to sleep until 2:30am. Fun times.

I woke up at around 7:00am for the big all-day 8-5 student teaching meeting... but still arrived too late as parking was a bit of an issue on campus, surprise surprise. I should have walked in 5 minutes early... but after standing in line to pay too much to park I walked in 5 minutes late. Ah well, about 20 people walked in after I did so apparently I wasn't the only one with that problem.

Overall, I'd say that this meeting was very important and useful for me. The day was not ideal, but it wasn't a complete waste either. I feel so much better... I feel like I have a clue about what is to come and that is very important for me. I hate feeling like I don't know what's going on. Before I basically knew I was "student teaching", whatever that meant, and that I'd have to do a "Teacher Work Sample", whatever that was... but I didn't know any specifics. Now I do. Hurray!

I was a bit annoyed with a few aspects of the meeting, but what do you expect? I know it's hard to put these things together so nobody get defensive or anything. But for one thing, I detest power point. I guess that's my own personal thing... regardless, if you're just going to read off of a power point, what's the point? They put me to sleep and tend to be very boring. I'm sure the information was valid... but we took longer than needed and again power point is boring. I'm pretty convinced the day could have been condensed by a couple of hours, but oh well. An 8-5 meeting is fun, right? Heh.

I'd say the most annoying part of the day was the resume workshop. Now first let me explain that I was very grateful for the workshop and it was a great idea... BUT nobody told us we could/should bring a working copy of our resumes! Um, that would be rather important, guys. I did see "resume workshop" on the agenda the night before, and even thought to myself that it wouldn't be a bad idea to print off a copy... but I didn't stress about it since they didn't tell us we should and it managed to slip my mind quite quickly. I figured that it would probably only be a presentation since they didn't ask us to bring them. Wrong. When we arrived, they asked us if we had brought them. Heh. Do they think we're mind readers? I think maybe three people had. Even then the presenter proceeded to rush through her power point that was chock full of good information (again with the power point, but oh well) to the point that none of us could write anything down so we could "have plenty of time to work"... then they gave us 50 minutes to "work with a partner on our resumes". Funny guys. If I've already got a resume I'm not going to start from scratch. Luckily they printed off copies of the powerpoint for us and we got them halfway through the "workshop", so at least we have that valuable information. I spent the first half of the time searching through my old e-mails to see if there was any chance I'd e-mailed myself my old resume for student teaching and hadn't deleted it. Nada. So during the second half I created my Career Services Online profile as they'd suggested we do earlier in the morning and then when I was done with that a girl that I'd had practicum with last year came over to say hello. Pretty much a good waste of time overall but at least I got to catch up with a friend.

I'd say the most helpful parts of the day were the discussions of what was to be directly involved with student teaching, help with filling out my licensure application, and most especially the meeting with my University Supervisor and my seminar group. It's a group of four other students who are also student teaching. I'm fortunate in that two of the other students are also at my elementary school, so we see each other a lot which is fabulous. I'm part of a great group, and I'm so excited about it! Everyone is so nice and I know just about everyone from having had education classes with them before. My university supervisor is really nice and very laid back. This is a good thing, only I'm a bit concerned because he is very lax with deadlines (i.e. there aren't any so long as we get everything done before the end) and I'm the kind of girl who needs the deadlines. I'm afraid my procrastination monster might rear its ugly head. But hey, it's working out for me in one respect: He isn't requiring us to do our reflections in journal form, but rather through just talking to one another. This gets rid of a lot of tedious busy work, sure... but it worked on me. If it were something we had to hand in, I would hate it... I'd feel like I was just writing it for the supervisor, that would be my audience. Not me, not anyone else. But instead of that, I've decided to do this blog for myself... and for fun I'm sharing it with my lovelies that are close to me. Much better audience with a better purpose created in a fashion that I enjoy much more. See? It worked, your plan worked ;o) Haha.

I need to remember to: Get finger printed for licensure (not easy to find time to go in to the police station), check up on my work sample requirements, apply for a subsitute license (oy), finish online course... okay now I'm stressing myself out. I'm going to stop with that.

A Rant: I got my tuition bill. I'm paying as if I were a full time student going to campus and taking 12 credit hours of classes (which costs the same as 18 hours). I'm paying all student fees, such as the rec center, the RTD Bus Pass, etc. just as if it were a normal semester. The problem: I'm not on campus EVER, do not require any of the facilities, and 10 of the 12 hours I'm being billed for are my STUDENT TEACHING hours! The other two are the seminar, which I'm fine with as we have to compensate our University Supervisor for his time. BUT... the elementary school is not seeing that money, my cooperating teacher definitely isn't seeing that money... so what am I paying for?!? I'm paying $3,000 so I can work full time, not be able to have another job, and to sit in a coffee shop and talk about the whole thing once a week. I realize that some of what I'm paying for is the services the university provides with coordinating everything... but I really don't think that's worth $2,000. Whatever University. This is BS. I should be paying for 2 credit hours and none of the other student fees that I'm not using, thank you very little. ::takes a deep breath:: I don't know if I can financially survive... I wasn't able to save over the summer as I had hoped... thank goodness for graduation money. Is that ironic? To spend graduation money on tuition? Heh. Thank you Mom and Dan for offering to pay for my gas, that's very kind of you... that might just keep me alive :o) Other than that I've got $200 to last me... so don't expect much for Christmas anybody. And hopefully I can do a bit of nannying, or babysitting if you will... we'll see.

Completely Freaking Out...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

And thus begins the semester... a little earlier than I thought.

There is a mandatory meeting for all student teachers on August 17... so it'll be cool to be out of town until midnight on the 16th, right? Heh. Funny. Well, I've been freaking out... the same day that a certain camper decides to disown me (and treat me terribly) I get about a million e-mails telling me that I've got a million things to do for student teaching before the semester even starts... aaand I have to go in to school earlier than I thought. Eek! I don't even know what student teaching entails so I'm practically having an anxiety attack but more on that later. School officially starts the 24th, and that's the day that my contract says I start... but now I'm being encouraged to be in the classroom getting ready... now. And I'm in Maine. That doesn't really work... I had been told, or at least had it in my head, that I needed to come in "a few days before school starts". A few days meaning a week? I guess I just didn't really understand exactly how this whole thing was going to work. It just is nice to have a little more time to mentally prepare. That's huge for me.

Sooo it's off the plane at midnight Wednesday (after driving all day from Maine to New York), all day meeting 8-5 on Thursday back in CO, all day at school Friday getting ready... then a running start from there starting with a 7:30am meeting Monday and more meetings and preparation the rest of the week until school starts. Whew... talk about hitting the ground running! I guess it will keep me busy and give me less time to be nervous. So maybe that's a good thing. Oh well, I mean, who needs to unpack and do laundry anyway?

Okay, I know that this schedule I've created for myself is not ideal. But hey, it's not exactly like I purposefully cut vacation so close to the beginning of the semester... I would have gone in July had it been up to me BUT it was a friend who invited us to come to this cabin in Maine and this is the week they had it booked so it was either a yes or a no. Of course we wanted to come... these are my boyfriend's best friends in the world and he is SO happy when he gets to see them! And I love them too. So it works out. But booo hooo we have to leave early since the reservation for the cabin was for all week, not just four days. The midnight flight on a Wednesday was the cheapest so that aided in my decision for cutting it so close... but hopefully it will work out.

Anyway, with all of the emails I was being bombarded with, I started completely freaking out... hence the title. As much as I love my boyfriend he just didn't understand... so in my moment of panic I sent an e-mail to my cooperating teacher. Poor thing having to read it, haha. I think the following passage from that e-mail sums up my feelings from the day:

"Okay, I've got to admit, I'm very stressed and nervous about the whole thing even though I'm trying really hard not to be. I think a lot of it is just the lack of time to mentally prepare for what exactly student teaching will entail. I mean, really, I'm glad that the school of ed gave us the summer to keep our brains free, but in thepast two-three days I've just been BOMBARDED with emails with attachments of everything you can think of, trying to wade through the piles and read through it all (on vacation) and wishing I'd had the summer to mentally chew on everything. And yet… I still don'treally know what's going to be expected of me entirely since apparently they're going to clue us in during that big meeting on the17th. I mean… really? We don't get to know anything until right before we start? It just seems like so much crammed into so littletime… even just a packet in May to look over about their requirements for the student teaching work sample (which by the way I still don'thave) would have been great. OH! And I STILL don't know who my university supervisor is going to be OR when my seminar meeting times will be! So much for planning. Oy. At least for regular classes your instructor and meeting time are actually listed."

Hopefully I'll feel better soon. It's just so much all at once... it's very overwhelming. Here's to the last few days of summer vacation... floating on a lake and s'mores... mmm...