Sunday, September 28, 2014

Student Teaching, Week 5

Student teaching is exhausting.

I am so so thankful to have one of the best cooperating teachers to help make it as educational and supportive as possible, but I have to say, my weekends (and evenings) are getting less and less restful as time goes on.

I am now the full time teacher, though my cooperating teacher is usually in the room with me. Math is still kind of a pain in the butt to teach, but Reading has replaced it as being the bigger challenge. Doing grammar lessons, going over homework, doing spelling/vocab stuff, writing, and guided reading in two hours is just insane. Oftentimes we just don't do writing, which saddens me, because I think it is the best program this district employs. Read alouds 2-3 days per week, which even in fourth grade the kids love, and a lot of time for independent writing. I am often rather weak in the grammar lessons, and am still working on it, because it seems impossible to go over a grammar concept for fifteen or so minutes per day.

However, even as I get stressed out from time to time, overall most days go rather well. I am still struggling trying to get my college supervisors to realize that there isn't much room or time to get much more creative with lessons, and I am being videotaped this week, but I am trying not to worry about any of that. There is no real reason to - they will say what they will say, and the video doesn't count towards my grade overall. I am starting a unit I developed on Inventions this week, so hopefully there will be something exciting for them to see.

Two more weeks. I will miss this school, and these kids, despite being excited to start from scratch somewhere else.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Week 3 Student Teaching

Student teaching is going really well, but I am still floored by how long each week feels. I honestly can't believe I have only been here for three weeks, even though I know I met my co op a couple weeks earlier. This was my first full week and it was long and tiring, but my stamina is definitely improving. I have gotten into a good routine of getting to school around 7-7:15, earlier than my cooperating teacher, so I can make my own copies for my lessons and stuff before my teacher gets there, in case there are other things to be done and other obligations.

But this week, teaching Social Studies and Science, I have officially begun teaching enough that a lot of the time there isn't as much for her do do in the mornings anymore. This will be particularly true next week, as I am picking up Math as well. I am officially the teacher for over two hours of the day now, and the two hours of reading is the only "subject" I am missing. The rest of the time is their arts classes, recess, lunch, and enrichment has not yet begun so it is silent reading time.

Yesterday my teacher had to go watch another class in my grade because that teacher was called away, and I was able to do a tiny science lesson on my own. I really enjoyed it, and it went swimmingly. I felt really relaxed knowing that for that span of time, I was there to get the job done and wasn't being evaluated at all for that time. Well, I am sure I was, but the evaluation was how well I handled myself alone with the class. But the great part about having worked in daycare is that I am not that concerned with being left alone with 25 kids. And really, the only reason I wouldn't want my teacher to leave for the first lessons I teach of Math, or any new subject, is more out of fear that I would end up not doing a worksheet that needed to be done or something, based on the program they use. Otherwise, I am happy to be left alone.

In Social Studies and Science we had study guides we completed and went over, and took tests in each. Even with them on the same day, the test average for both was in the low 90s. Which for my kids, given that there are a few who are VERY low in reading, I am really proud of how well they did. There were only a handful of low grades, and it was usually higher level kids not reading directions. Particularly for the social studies test, as I did the teaching for the vast majority of that unit, I felt really confident that I succeeded in the task overall.

In Science, we studied for our test on leaf rubbings and leaves, and took it, and I slightly introduced the unit on Carbon Printing yesterday. I anticipate it will be great fun. I just hope I can manage as well with Math, given how much I hated math myself at that age.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Student Teaching: City, State, Country, Continent Project

This week was my first one teaching lessons formally to the children. I began with Social Studies, and we were learning Geography. My cooperating teacher said that every year, her incoming fourth graders seem to still not know the difference between city, state, country, and continent. And upon introduction to the topic, if I asked what country we lived in, most said the name of our state. If I asked our continent, most said USA. It is sad, but fourth graders know the names for all of these places, and know the words continent and country...but clearly have not yet connected the two.

To emphasize the difference, I introduced a project with a youtube jingle ( so they all had some basic sense of what each was. Then we began the project, which was to represent each land area on a circle corresponding to the size of that area. Here is an example of my model:

It took a half day longer than anticipated, but my kids definitely understood the differences by the end. They had to ask for the next sheet using proper terminology, and my cooperating teacher heard them helping each other and discussing directions. Each page had it's own little activity. Map skills and emphasizing the cardinal directions were emphasized as they are other skills that will be on their test this week.

Overall, I am pleased with how it turned out. This week is a pretty dull week, mostly prepping for an exam and introducing new units. I am teaching social studies and science this week. I love science, so I am really looking forward to that, but it is amazing how long the past two weeks feel. I can't believe I am only entering my third week. I can't believe in a month I will be entering my final week for this placement.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Weight Loss Update and Student Teaching Lunches

Well, the stress and constant standing of student teaching is great for weight loss. I am now at 312.2, almost 3 pounds down from just a few weeks ago. Right on track, even though I have not been tracking my food. I am glad for it, and glad that student teaching actually helps me reach my physical goals. I have not been walking all that much after school (we had a long weekend, so it ended up being 3 walks last week, not my goal of 5) because my feet are just too dead from standing all day. But so far, that is ok. When the weather gets a bit cooler, and as I get more used to being on my feet, that will hopefully change.

Also, I am taking advantage of bringing my lunch to school. It sounds simple, but you can't eat what you don't bring with you. So I try to bring a reasonably healthy (albeit fairly large) lunch. Lately it has been centered around a cup of kale for a salad with fresh herbs like dill or cilantro for more flavor, carrots and snap peas, with a couple tbsp of dressing. Then I will bring some fresh fruit, like grapes, or maybe a couple dried dates for fiber. I am bringing a little (1/4 cup) of chicken salad to put on the salad or nibble on alone because it will go bad soon if I don't, and that will switch to a hard boiled egg probably when the chicken runs out. Lastly, a piece of cheese, and some fruit snacks for dessert. I love fruit snacks. And I am allowed to have one junky splurge. Then I refill a water bottle with iced tea.

It is a lot to eat for lunch, but I tend to eat it in such a way where I eat the fresh things first, so if I am not hungry, I just won't open the cheese stick or fruit snacks, or anything else that will keep. Great for days I am starving, like today, but it still works for days I am anxious or lacking appetite but still want a nutritious lunch. I never skip lunch. I'd die.

I am hoping to make the check ins a monthly thing, but we will see how it goes.