Mistakes Are Proof That You Are Trying

My blog has apparently decided not to publish any of the posts I have written for the past two weeks….So much has happened, and so much has been going on, that at times I feel as though my brain will explode. It’s nearing the end of my practicum experience, and it makes me happy in one way, but sad in another. Happy because I will finally be able to get some sleep, and relax. Sad, because I’ve grown to love the kids I’m working with, with all their quirks, attitude, jokes, and earnest questions. I will truly miss them, but I plan to hopefully come back and visit.

I had my second observation on Tuesday, and it was quite depressing. I had planned out my lesson to a T, used several resources, planned activities, etc, but still, I got blank stares. I was discouraged, and upset with myself for not getting my message across to the kids. It was already difficult for me to plan a Math lesson, which I haven’t formally studied since graduating high school, but to have to find a way to format my speech from professorial and university level down to something 10 and 11 year old kids would understand is SO hard. Harder than I thought. I can’t get my tone right, and even though I have positives from my feedback, I still felt terrible. I felt like I let the kids down, and after 5 weeks, I would have hoped that my delivery of a lesson would have been a lot smoother. I burst into tears at the end of the day, and nearly went home. But, after a chat with my CT, who told me that even seasoned teachers have days like the one I had, I felt better. Better enough to teach the Math tutorial that happens every Tuesday after school. I regrouped, chunked my instructions, and really tried to go down to their level and, it WORKED. The tutorial went smoothly, the kids that were there actually understood the material, and I went home feeling good about myself.

This morning, I taught a review lesson for the rest of the class, and used the same strategies that I used for the Math tutorial, and again, the students understood. We played a number game, they did some informal assessment for me, and they went home (hopefully) understanding the lesson. I learned that it’s ok to make mistakes, but that it’s also necessary to learn from them.

Start each day with a grateful heart

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.” – Henry Kissinger

Week Three. So it begins. It’s almost crazy to think that I am nearly halfway done my practicum. I had one of my girls come up to me last week and ask me “Do you really have to go? I know you’re leaving at some point, but do you have to?” My heart grew three sizes too big. It’s such a nice feeling to be liked by students, and I know I’ll always have a place in my heart for this particular class, since they were my first real experience teaching. There are the couple here or there that cause some issue, but overall they are such a lovely bunch. Things have been getting really busy in the classroom, I’ll be teaching my third independent lesson on Tuesday, a Social class, which is nice. The students just finished a unit in Science, so we will be starting a new one on Evidence and Investigation.

I had a surprise task on Friday, to create a new seating plan for the students. I’m looking forward to seeing their reaction in the morning! I will try and post a picture of the seating plan soon.

I’m looking forward to what the week will hold.

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Science!

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This was the bulletin board I spent so much time on this past week, to showcase all of the students’ tree cookies (Dendrodiscs, for you more technical science types) If you click on the image to make it bigger, for some reason it shows the image upside down. Sorry about that.

Week One, Done.

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.” – Kid President

I can’t believe Week One is over. It feels like it went so fast, yet it didn’t all at the same time. I feel like I’m finally settling in to my classroom, and the dynamic with my CT and my kids (especially them) is starting to gel. I really like the kids, and I’m quite pleased that they seem to like me as well. My boys have labeled me “Kid Teacher”, because every day we talk about video games, what movies we like, and typically “boy” things. I greeted them Friday morning with salutes of Happy N7 Day, which to any nerdy boy means Mass Effect Day, a very popular video game. I stood outside the class with tidings of N7 Day, and the boys one by one stared at me as if they were deer caught in headlights, shocked that a teacher, let alone a girl, would know what that day meant. I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed it. The girls are the minority in the classroom, but I still try to bond with them too, and even had one come up to me and ask “Why did you want to become a teacher?” Put on the spot, I told her that I loved kids, and that I thought teachers were really important people. That seemed to satisfy her, but I think I need to work on that answer a little better. I carried a little girl with a bleeding knee all the way to the office after recess on Friday, her little brother was tailing behind me all worried about her. It made me feel like a hero 🙂 Lunch on Friday consisted of staff room banter about which teachers looked like which celebrities or cartoon characters, and conversations about favorite actors. There was laughter, jokes, and camaraderie between a staff that was finally unwinding after a long week of work.

This coming week will be quite short, with only three teaching days, what with a PD Day tomorrow, and Remembrance Day on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to seeing what a PD Day is all about. My advisor is coming to visit on Thursday, and I’ll be teaching another Science lesson all by myself. I’m a tad worried about it because it’s going to be on the Unit Test the following day, so I really hope the children understand what I’m teaching them. My CT and I team taught a lesson on Friday, and it went much better than my lone lesson the Wednesday. I improved in certain areas, but others still need more work. My CT is super helpful and encouraging, making sure that even though she might have constructive criticism about my lessons, she is still happy with my progress. I’m glad that I have so much space to spread my wings and experiment in her classroom, it really fosters my confidence. I hope that I will set my bar higher this Thursday. I completed my own assignment and marking this past week, and I have several other projects to mark this coming week. I didn’t realize how difficult marking assignments could be, especially finding the balance between a mark that is too lenient and kind, or a mark that is too harsh. However, I’m glad that my CT is giving me so much to do simply because it means she isn’t sugarcoating what it’s like to teach. Teachers, I’ve noticed, have TONS to do every day, especially during report card season. I’m happy to help her in any way I can.

My feel-good moment of the week was sitting down with a child in my class who is coded with behavioral issues. Observing them this week has really opened my eyes to how intricate this code actually is, and what strategies I can employ to help them. They came to me upset about the mark they had received on the Science assignment I gave out and had marked, and I asked if they had had a problem understanding anything in the booklet. We sat down and went over the booklet, and I pointed out where the mistakes had been made, making sure to tell them that they hadn’t been the only one to make those mistakes, offering to stay in with them at recess to help them study for the Unit Test if they wanted. Let’s see if they take me up on my offer. I have a soft spot for that kid.

I’m looking forward to Week Two, and seeing what else is in store. I hope to foster more relationships with the other teachers in my school, and learn as much as possible. Week One done, Week Two – bring it on.

Letters, Lessons, and Lockdowns. Oh My!

Day Three. I’m still alive. Today was intense, to say the least. I started my morning finishing my task of reading my students’ Cumulative Reports, which my CT asked me to do so that I would not only get to know my kids’ backgrounds a little better, but also as a means to identify and understand my kids with and special coding, or any accommodations. I loved the exercise, and have found myself asking other teachers and support staff for the files that I’m missing, because I’m so eager to learn whatever I can. Once I finished that, I moved on to my next task: creating a Science bulletin board for the students’ tree cookies. My arm threatened to fall off from stencil cutting all my letters, leaves, and stapling, but my finished product was pretty great. It feels good to be in the classroom, learning from my CT, but also from my students, and being able to do things that showcase their work and abilities.

You can call me Centimeter. Lady Centimeter. That is my nickname, so kindly given by one of the other teachers in the school upon trying to figure out what the CM of my name meant. My kids love it. I was so anxious today, trying to get prepared for my lesson that I had to teach after morning recess. I had my lesson plan in hand, ready to go, I even had student volunteers hand out the lesson booklet. My objective: teach my students about the parts of a leaf, their shapes, arrangements, etc. I was wound up so tightly, and was so nervous, that my lesson plan virtually went out the window. My timing was fine but things seemed rushed, I wasn’t as engaging as I thought I could have been, and certain things we learned in our lessons at school didn’t feel like they were translating into my lesson. However, even though I though all those things about my lesson, my CT gave me really great feedback when we debriefed after my lesson. While she did have some constructive criticism, our chat greatly helped me build my confidence back up, and to believe that my lesson was successful. Amazingly, my kids got it. There were lots of questions, some concerns and blank stares, but I did my best to answer all of their questions, and put up an example on the board. I now sit with my marking at home, proud of my kids for being so accepting of my lesson, and really trying hard to do their best. The rest of the day went without incident, until about ten or fifteen minutes after the final bell rang.

I was packing my things to get ready to go, my CT was getting ready to get her marking done, and all of a sudden, the PA buzzes on, announcing a lockdown. We scrambled to secure the two of us into the room, and then stared at each other wondering what was possibly wrong. She tells me in a whisper that there has never been a lockdown after school hours before, and explains the procedure to me. We both tiptoe to our desks to get our marking, and quietly work until the PA buzzes back on to say the lockdown was external, asking any residual staff and students to come to the main office. I was tense, worried about what could be happening, and truly grateful the majority of the students were gone for the day. I was even reticent to blog about the occurrence, but my CT encouraged me to, as it would be a good point of reference for myself, and for my cohort. To calm down a rambunctious room of elementary school children, regardless of the grade they are in, can be difficult enough – but to try calming them down in the midst of a lockdown? I can’t even imagine.

Today was an interesting, stressful, anxiety-ridden, and rewarding day. I’m looking forward to the next six weeks.

To begin, begin.

I woke up this morning a ball of nerves, stressed out, not knowing what to expect. I was flustered when I arrived at my school, not knowing where to meet my teacher. Walking around the school, I slowly met some other staff, and talked to others I had met on my school tour. I began to calm down. Once I met with my teacher, and went over the dynamics of the day, I felt a lot better. Starting my practicum experience with a field trip was a great way to break the ice with my students, get to know them, and float around talking to smaller groups. I greatly appreciate having the opportunity to observe what my cooperating teacher is doing, and watching how she interacts with the class. I feel pretty blessed that the way she teaches is basically what I envisioned teaching to be like, and I really look forward to learning from her. My teacher and I agreed that I would jump in right away and teach a lesson this Wednesday, so I’m really nervous, but super excited. There are so many things coming down the pipe all at once, and my main concern so far is simply being able to manage my time and my focus. Between my family, and my work as a student teacher, I look forward to learning all these new things.

Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and focus on what could go right.

It’s almost 2am, and I can’t sleep. I’m nervous, anxious, and excited for practicum to start. I keep worrying about things, whether my students will like me, if the next six weeks will run smoothly, and if I’ll be able to balance my life outside of school and my life inside of it. Nevertheless, I’m pumped. It’s not always easy to focus on the positive, but I’ll try my best to do just that. My new journey as Miss CM starts today, and I couldn’t be more excited for it. 🙂