As I approach my last week of teaching at my placement, I continue to think about how it feels to be a teacher and reach so many students throughout your career. However, in order to do so, every year a new class comes and goes. That bond that you spend a year (or in my case semester) creating, walks out the door over a summer break. Many students, you won’t see again, others you’ll see on the playground and exchange a friendly hello and a quick story. But they won’t again be in your class. And come August another class will come and and you get to know each and every one of them like you did the others. It is extremely sad to think of that way. But we must remember, that we influenced their lives and hopefully made a difference. And then we are provided with an opportunity to grace the lives of another group who needs you just like the others. We are a stepping stone in our students’ lives.
Thursday while at my placement, I had the weirdest moment. All of a sudden I realized how young my students were. We were handing out Christmas songs to the students to put in binders for them to go caroling at their next field trip. Half of the class didn’t know how to open the rings of the binder because this was the first time they had ever used one of their own. Up until this point, all of their papers had been put in folders or kept loose. It is those little tasks that as adults we take for granted. Teaching young children means teaching them all of those things we take for granted. Including simply reading and writing.
There are so many different forms of literacy, none of which that can be ignored. Texting, email, and web surfing is all literacy. The individual is reading and writing in an informal setting without the pressure of being wrong or right and as teachers we should embrace that. It is like practice. Sports coaches don’t get mad when their players play an informal game with their friends in their backyard or on a playground. The more they play, or in this case read and write, the better they become.
From my Writing Philosophy and Reflection
This class has been a benefit to me in ways that it has reinforced my beliefs that there isn’t one correct way to teach or learn. I’ve always had the impression that everyone learns differently so all teachers must have lessons that teach differently in order to reach all of their class.
In this class we have explored many different types of technology and how different sites have different purposes. We can share our work with others and interact with the text online rather than staring at a plain piece of paper. Creating a blog like this one will branch out to those creative students.
We have explored different ways to do group work within a classroom which is extremely important to me. My belief is that students learn best from each other. I can teach them anything but they will never fully grasp the concept until they explain it to one another. Its how you remember. Group work brings out many different ideas rather than just my own.
Today was day one of addressing Lehiem’s academic needs rather than strictly the behavioral problems. He has a tendency to write many number and letters backwards. Today we tackled the most common of his errors: 5, d, 2, 6, and 4. I also gave him a “Space Man” to make sure he puts a space between words when writing.
I believe the most influential part of today was that I got one on one time with him in the back room without the distractions of the class for the first time. I was just going to work on 5’s and lowercase d’s. But he didn’t want to do anything. So I just talked to him an explained for the first time that I was HIS Special Pal and anything he needed help on is what I wanted to do. I told him that when I’m there I can answer any questions for him and that he had his own personal teacher. He loved this idea and had no problem writing a few lines of them. Then my heart melted when he started to explain other letters and numbers he got backwards sometimes and asked if we could practice those. This tough kid likes the time spent one on one.
We both had a laugh when talking about 4’s. He said his dad kept teaching him wrong. When his dad drew them in the air and Lehiem wrote them, his dad would tell him they were still wrong. We figured out his dad was drawing it in the air correctly from his own view point but he was sitting across the table from Lehiem and not next to him like I was. He thought it was very cool that he could go home and show his dad that.
I love teaching letters and basic reading but I’ve forgotten how much I love the basics because lately I have been placed with older kids. I can’t wait to teach the younger grades because I love the idea of never taking my basic knowledge for granted.
I have a yellow lab named Lucky who is bred and raised to retrieve non-stop. As my family always says, she has no off button. If there is a ball, stick, toy, sprinkler, ANYTHING that can be thrown and brought back she will find it. It is simply in her blood. I’ve gotten used to it over the years, I simply hide everything! Out of sight, sort of out of mind. Never have I thought until recently that I would end up using this same strategy with my new second grade Special Pal.
Leon moved away unexpectedly so I have been placed with Lehiem. The little boy a table away who can’t sit still, pay attention, follow instructions, and can’t top playing with that ball!…or in this case his pencil. Lehiem has to be drawing at all times. I take his pencil away in hopes he will listen. That doesn’t work. He then shakes and fidgets uncontrollably trying to get the pencil or find one in his suroundings. Its as if life is impossible if he can’t draw.
Then it is time to write down answers so obviously I give him back his pencil and immediately within .73 seconds there is a little figure drawn on the page. I’m not even sure how he can draw that fast. I remind him to write the answer so he scribbles an answer resembling a few letters of the word, and then faster than I can blink there is another figure resembling Mr. Potato Head.
My student with his pencil is like my dog with her ball. He has to draw just like she needs to retrieve. The hardest part for me is that I’ve been there in class lectures and come out with notes that look more like an eye spy page than notes. I know art is important and he just wants to draw but I have to find a way to keep him focused when all he wants to do is draw.
My placement on Thursday was very enjoyable. I found it interesting and rewarding. But it’s amazing the things you hear when no one realizes your listening. A few weeks ago Pam Morrell came into my EDTE 255 class to talk about diversity and thinking about a our students as students and not what ethnicity, gender or other physical characteristic that they are. So that idea has been on my mind recently. I had interviewed my teacher during recess and she had gone to get the class from their line outside. While I was sitting in the empty classroom, I saw a man (I presume a teacher because he was leading a class) talking to two students. He looked at the African American boy and said “Look! It’s the little brown boy!” Now I realize and hope that I heard this out of context but even if that were true I still found myself on the edge of my seat in disbelief. The little boy replied “I’m not brown!” and as they were walking away the last thing I heard was “Then what are you? Chocolate?” This moment absolutely stunned me. It may has been an inside joke but just to host hose around it was uncomfortable. I definitely feel that this was a good example of what Pam talked about. It is important to think of our students in other ways than physical differences whenever possible.
I have never had the opportunity to look at a lesson from a teacher’s perspective so looking at “Step Up to Writing” was exciting for me. I loved the idea of student involvement and active learning. It was refreshing to see an idea that didn’t involve the teacher commanding the students with a blank piece of binder paper and a pencil without creativity or room for participation. But every great idea has its flaws.
Hillary and I discussed the following:
What do they mean by active reading? Is it beyond comprehension? Because students can read something, understand it, but still not really be active in the learning or classroom lesson. I know I personally have been in a class and known the answer for a math problem but not really known how I got there. The same can happen in writing. The student may understand something and simply write it on their paper just to receive credit because its what they are suppose to do. Teachers must make sure that the lesson reaches everyone. Teachers, therefore, must be active in their teaching.
In terms of summarizing they say that once a student can summarize they are ready for the next level. But many students can summarize and then once recess comes they forget and never remember again. If they can’t hold on to their new knowledge, its a lost lesson. They can’t “put it in their pocket” to use later. So in a way the creativity of the lesson will make it memorable but it must also be valuable and something they will always remember to use.
There are many different approaches to how to teach the lessons, how does this benefit varying types of learners within one classroom? This program is amazing for visual learners. By including picture within the sentences or breaking up sentences to acknowledge the separate parts within create a great visualization of the process involved.
This program encourages mainly group work with an active classroom. However, how does this affect the learning of students who work better independently and may be too shy to speak out in class and participate? It is undeniable that in every classroom there is at least one student, often multiple, who are intimidated when “that” student is always answering. A shy independent learner may feel uncomfortable speaking out and being an active participant in the lesson. As a teacher, we can’t let them fall into the shadows and lose their momentum. They must continue to learn to. There must be a balance between group and independent work because even though a student may work quietly it doesn’t mean that they aren’t actively learning.
Somewhere out there there is an amazing way to teaching literacy to our students. This program has potential, but it all depends on what the teacher does with it and how we interpret it and use it in our classrooms.
A few weeks ago in my EDTE 255 class we had a panel of current teachers come in and talk to us about what teaching was like.
My Special Pal is adorable and always makes me smile. He talks to me about our similar hobbies and what he likes to do for fun. On Thursday we were working on his reading and all of a sudden he looked up at me and said, “You have blue eyes…” My heart melted at the fact that he noticed such a small detail. As I was saying goodbye he leaped up and gave me a big hug. It was the first time I ever felt like a student was attached to me. I felt needed and like I was making a difference. Working with him has continued to re-light my inspiration for teaching. I love working with him. That bond that the panel of teachers talked about was present.
Something that they also talked about happened to me today too though. They talked about how it was a good idea to live in a different town than their school. It made sense but today I realized why. I went to Safeway this morning to get a gallon of milk thinking no big deal, its early and no one will see me so I’ll just wear sweats and baggy shirt with no make-up and my hair in a messy bun. Inside Safeway I saw no one and I thought good, coast is clear! Then sitting outside the door is my Special Pal. He looks me dead in the eye and just stares at me like he recognized me but couldn’t figure out how. Even though I wasn’t doing anything wrong, it just felt awkward for us both, I think because he was confused and I had never seen a student around town before. Even my boyfriend was confused as to why I was saying hi to a random little boy in front of the store. I’m so used to only them seeing me in a professional setting.
It’s those little details about this profession that you never think about.