Reflections of a New Teacher

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

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.


  • At 9/07/2006 03:01:00 PM, Anonymous chrisb said…

    It makes me smile that you looked at the photographer's set up. :-) Ah, back to school night... totally fun and worthwhile until about, oh, ninth grade, and then it's just a reason for parents to leave their high schoolers at home alone. I love seeing the parents sitting in the tiny little desks and using the tiny little bathrooms.


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