Monthly Archives: November 2013

An Outlet for Teachers

The first UDATC meeting I went to I did not know what to expect. I heard the rumors, but still didn’t expect to see a giant stuffed bear standing in the corner of the classroom the meetings are held. Oddly enough, that bear doesn’t distract from the importance and fun of the meetings. 

I love the meetings between UDHS and Arcadia because as a person who wants to become a teacher, I’m able to see the support teachers show each other when one is having a problem. It’s support that is needed so we all know how to be effective at our jobs. Everyone shares ideas on how to fix a lesson or make it stronger, questions are answered about supplementary materials, and there’s always tons of jokes which makes the meetings fun

Everyone has the opportunity to write a question down and put it in a glass jar and Dr. Gustavson picks papers at random. Then the question is read aloud, and the group has two minutes (in order) to comment. If an extension is needed after the two minutes are up, someone calls for an extension and then it has to be seconded. 

I don’t say much when I’m at the meetings because I’m really there to soak up what everyone else has to say. There are so many good people and so many good ideas in that meeting. It’s a collection of minds and these minds come up with amazing ideas.

I’m extremely grateful to have this opportunity to observe the laughter and the struggles. 

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A Lesson Learned

Well, I finally had the chance to present my lesson to the English class that I’ve been observing for the past few months. Previously, I thought I was going to be presenting to the 10th grade class, but they’re working on speeches, so I presented to the 11th grade class. My mentor teacher turned the room over to me, I was excited and ready, and now I’m not sure where things went wrong. We talked about short stories, and the students told me some of their favorites, and the ones I never heard of, they were ready and happy to tell me what they were about. I thought we were off to a great start. I handed out copies of The Monkey’s Paw to them (some of them read it before, but a lot didn’t) and since they enjoy reading aloud, I thought “why not ask for volunteers to read?” I got the volunteers and we were off! Things were still going well. I saw the students following along; we talked about the first part of the story when it was finished because some of them had questions about what was going on. This is when I started to realize that things weren’t going as well as I had hoped. While they started on the second part of the story, I noticed two students sleeping and one was on his cell phone. Okay. I wasn’t going to let that get to me. Then we broke up into groups to do the collaborative short story. A lot of them had fun with it which made me really excited, but there were still the ones I noticed who weren’t very into it. One flat out refused to switch papers with his group, so the people in that group had to write their own conclusions on their own paper. That’s fine, I didn’t know what that student was going through that day – he could have been having a really bad day. One student didn’t write at all, while one in his group was having a great time writing, and the last person in the group didn’t start her writing until it was time to switch to write the body of the story. I felt defeated.

How do I engage a student who blatantly doesn’t want to do something? How do I do this without calling him or her out on everything in front of the class, or even talk to them at their desk about it, when I’m not their teacher? 

I allowed this lesson to defeat me for two days. I switched majors during my years as an undergrad because I had a teacher tell me I would be a horrible teacher. When I taught for the seven years I did, I felt like I beat that teacher, that I showed him that I AM a teacher and I always will be a teacher. I allowed his voice to echo through my head and call me a failure, which I’m not. Regardless of the fact that I taught before, I’m still new and I’m still growing. There are obviously many things I would change about this lesson, and the first being changing the class time from one day to two. It is absolutely a two day lesson. I would have explained more to the students. I wanted them to focus on the description, and how description can make or break a story, but if I don’t explain that well enough, how are they supposed to know? 

Regardless of the mistakes I have made, after talking with my mentor teacher, and my teacher for my 605 class, I’m not a horrible teacher, I’m human and I made mistakes which I have absolutely learned from. I know what to look for in my own lessons right now. I’m learning how to make assignments more broad so the students have the freedom to write without parameters. 

This was a hard lesson to learn, but I’m glad I learned it. 

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Lesson

I’m extremely excited and nervous for Friday. On Friday, I am going to be doing my first lesson in the classroom I’m observing. Normally, when I’m in the room, I sit with the kids when they’re writing, or reading Romeo and Juliet, explaining certain characters or scenes to them when I see looks of confusion on their faces. I have also gotten chances to read their work and comment on a couple of their essays, which was surprisingly a lot of fun. I have really enjoyed reading the student’s work, which makes me even more excited to present my lesson to them.

I have decided to do a collaborative short story and have the students focus on description. I really want them to see what too much, not enough, and just the right amount of description can do to a story. I’m going to be giving them a few short stories to look over and have them pick out what they feel is strong description along with what they feel is weak description, and explain why.

I’m really excited for this next part because I’m sure there’s going to be time for this. I’m going to break them up into groups of three and each student is going to take out their own piece of paper and for five minutes, they’re going to write an introduction to a short story, making sure to as much description as they can for an introduction. Then they are going to switch their papers with the people in the group, who will have 30 seconds to read the introduction, and then five minutes to write a body to their classmates story. After that five minutes is up, they’re going to switch again, have one minute to read the introduction and body of another story and for five minutes that student will write the conclusion.

I have never done anything like this before when I was teaching. I was stuck on and used to the rule that I had to have the students always write five paragraphs whenever they wrote. I’m extremely excited and extremely nervous because I don’t want to be bad in delivering the lesson to the kids and I’m doing it in front of my mentor teacher, so I don’t want her to think I’m not strong. This is a very big step because I also had to write a lesson plan, which is something I have never had to do before. A lot of people think that’s strange considering I taught before, but the school didn’t require lesson plans because the kids worked on computers a lot and then when it was time for direct instruction, we could choose what to do, and as long as the director knew what it was, there was no need for a lesson plan. 

I just hope that I’m able to do a good job and be strong in my teaching. I’m sure the confidence when it comes to writing lesson plans will come when I’ve written more than one. 

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