Monday, July 27, 2009

New Blog Background

So, I have officially spent the last 2 hours changing the background of this blog. I have seen so many cool blog backgrounds and I have always wondered how people got them because I could never find them under the "Layout" settings on my Dashboard. I now realize that that is because many people go to other sources to get those backgrounds. I went to The Cutest Blog and the Block website. After trying about 10 different backgrounds and even more font color schemes, I think I have settled on a good one. I am quite fond of the blues and pastel colors. I like it, but I want to make sure it is not to overwhelming or boring for viewers/readers. If you like it or think I should make yet another change, please feel free to comment. Thanks!

Update on Contacting CT

Thanks to everyone who gave me advice about calling my CT. I didn't call her today because she actually responded to my email!!! Basically, she doesn't know when we can start working in OUR (I love that she referred to it like that!) classroom yet. She is talking to the principal about it and as soon as she gets a date, she will let me know. She also made it clear that I should not hesitate to call her about anything, which of course made me feel relieved!! I offered to meet up for coffee or lunch some time before we start setting up the classroom as a way to get to know each other a little better. Hopefully she'll be okay with that. I will definitely post any other updates!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Random Thoughts about Student Teaching

I have been writing down my thoughts about student teaching, my role in the classroom, and general thoughts about teaching. My CT encouraged me to do this and it has been a great process for reflecting on my expectations for this experience. I plan on looking back at these ideas at the end of the school year to see what has changed or stayed the same.

* Where do I want to be in the room?
- I do not really sit much when I’m in the classroom. I feel more comfortable and relaxed if I can move around the room. I would love to have a desk area at which I can organize my materials/planner/papers. This desk area does not have to be big at all; just large enough for me to keep my things organized and possible sit down and grade papers if I need to. I would like for my desk to be located in the back of the classroom so that I can see all of the students and not take up room in the front of the class. As long as I can have a good view of the class, that is fine. Like I said, I don’t think I’ll be sitting much anyway!

* What do I see as my role in the classroom?
- I would like to have a very involved role in classroom instruction, management, design, etc. I absolutely respect that this is your classroom first, but I would love for you to think of me as a colleague. I understand that I have an immense amount of knowledge to gain, but I also have much to contribute as well.

- Any grading, lesson planning, parent contacts, teaching that I can be a part of…bring it on!! I know that during the first few weeks, I want to learn as much as I can about how to run a classroom, but I definitely do not want to spend the entire first semester just sitting in a chair taking notes.

- I want the students to know that I hold just as much authority as the CT does in the classroom.

- I want to be able to model some of my CT’s teaching attributes while developing my own teaching style too (even though I know the last part will take quite a while).

- I want my CT to trust that I will give my all with every task that is presented to me

- I want to learn how to balance between being friendly and being friends with students. This is one of my biggest fears….being too nice to the students and them not respecting the authority I have as a teacher.

* What are some beliefs/ideas I have about teaching?
- Children are not out to get us…many times when they act out, there are much larger issues at work than the fact that I didn’t let them listen to their IPOD in class!

- Teaching encompasses much more than content; as stressful as the job may be, I believe that I will be much more than a teacher. To some, I will be a mom, counselor, social worker, etc. This is a task to which I am fully committed.

- Each day should be a blank slate (as difficult as this will probably be in real life). Leave the baggage of the previous day/period behind. Children are entitled to a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance because they are worth it. There will be a time when they get older when no one will give them a second chance. I figure they should take all they can get now!

- Clear communication of expectation is key. Problems result when students don’t know what/when they need to do something. There should be no guesswork involved in what takes place during the school day.

- Parents are very important in the educational experience of the child. Parents should be visible and encouraged to participate in the classroom in whatever ways they can. Even parents who were high school drop outs have valuable knowledge that they can share with their children and the other kids in the classroom.

- Students should not be punished or disciplined. I believe instead that there are behavioral expectations and there are positive and negative consequences that come along with maintaining those expectations or choosing not to.

- Rewards are okay every now and again, but I am a firm believer in intrinsic motivation. The true challenge for teachers is not how many pizza party’s students get for turning in their homework but how engaged and interested students are in our lessons. If they are not….we can forget about them turning in that homework!

To Call or Not to Call

As I inch closer to the start of student teaching, I feel like I need to contact my CT and find out when she plans on getting back into the classroom. I am sure that it will probably be within the next few weeks or so, so I really want to make sure I am available. The thing that I have been going back and forth about is whether or not to call her. I sent her an email but I remember her telling me that she does not check her email often during the summer. So, she did give me her phone number and told me to call her about anything, but I guess I’m questioning whether she really meant that. It’s not that I don’t think she was sincere, I’m just apprehensive about calling her on “her own time” and her possibly being too busy to talk to little ol’ me. The anxiety I feel is definitely not unique to this experience- I get nervous when I’m calling my own grandma to ask a question!! I guess I just want to know whether or not it is okay to actually call her about meeting up before school starts, working in the classroom, etc. I just don’t want to step on her toes before we even get into the classroom!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friendly but not Friends

Yesterday I was browsing the internet for blogs about student teaching. As I inch closer and closer to this anticipated moment, I am trying to soak up all of the tips and inspiration I can get!! One of the common threads throughout the tips for student teachers was the importance of being friendly, but not friends with the students. I absolutely understand this piece of advice because if students think you are their friend and not their teacher, the only result will be TROUBLE!! I had never really given the difference between these two relationships much thought before. In fact, the more I thought about this advice, the more trouble I had between determining what makes them distinct. I feel like deep down, I WANT the approval of my students. I want them to like me and I want to like them too. But I think that what this should translate to is wanting the respect and admiration of my students and me giving them the same back. They may not like me, but as long as I am treating them with respect and helping them to succeed as students and as individuals, it really doesn’t matter. So to help myself have a little more clarity on this issue, I compared and contrasted the characteristics of a friend and someone who is friendly.

- Talk on the phone together
- Go to movies, out to eat, shopping
- Confide in each other
- Know you inside and out
- Argue
- Gossip
- Travel together
- Trust each other
- Earn the title of being a “friend”

Friendly is
- Greeting people when you see them
- Helping someone when they need assistance
- Doing kind deeds
- Respecting others for who they are
- Smiling
- Saying nice things to others
- Openness to communication
- Approachability
- Even-Temperedness
- Patience

Although there are some traits that overlap, I think the distinguishing qualities are quite apparent. I can absolutely be friendly with my students without becoming friends. I know if I my best friend was not doing her homework and I said, “Now, friend, what should you be working on now”, I would probably get an eye roll and an “I don’t feel like doing it now. It’ll get done when it gets done”! I know that there is not a whole lot that I could say back to my friend about this situation, but this type of response would be totally unacceptable coming from my students. This whole “friendly but not friends” approach is all coming together now, but I know that it will be even more of a challenge to actually put it into action!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Idle Time = Losing My Mind

Well, it has been quite a while since my last post and frankly, it's because I just haven't had much to blog about. I am sort of at an eventless period right now (which I'm sure I will be begging for here in a couple of months!!). I have packed up everything that I am not using right now in preparation for the big move. In packing up my room, I have found that I have a serious problem with buying books. Out of the 6 small-medium sized boxes I have, about 4 of them are full of books. I have textbooks, picture books, leisure reading books. Although I have read many of them, there are certainly a number that I have not gotten to yet! That's okay, though, because as long as I have them I will be inclined to read them (who's to say whether that will be tomorrow or 5 years from now!).

Aside from the packing, there isn't much going on. I've been trying to "take it easy", which is quite the daunting task for someone who is always on the go! I am trying to make the most of it, but as "nerdy" as it may be, I am itching to back into the grind of school, lesson plans, and kids. All of this idle time is driving me crazy!! Half of the time I just want to take naps all day to make the day go by faster. Although the "laid back" approach to life is needed every now and again, I know that a 3 month break is about all I can stand!!

As it gets closer to me moving and beginning my student teaching experience, I will aboslutely be blogging more often. With my first day of work in the classroom beginning on August 19th (orientation!!), I am only weeks away to starting what could quite possibly be the most hectic time of my life so far...let the good times begin!!!!!