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Posts Tagged ‘Student Teaching’

INNOVATION

     I’m not feeling very innovative right now but I’m thinking a lot about color.  Tomorrow, I am starting a unit on acids and bases with a demonstration of indicators which should be very cool.   I’m supposed to be doing the final touches on making this unit innovative.    I’m stuck on some of the assessment pieces and the pacing of it.    I think I’ve been moving too fast without enough scaffolding and explicit instruction.

     Have I mentioned that my students didn’t do so well on their last test?   As far as they are concerned, having a student teacher is enough innovation.   If I do anything too unusual, the attendance numbers will probably take another steep nosedive which is why I’m also working on engagement and relevance.

     Two more weeks of student teaching and there is still so much to learn.   I know the learning takes years but I want to do a great job, right now, for these students.

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The Vernal Equinox

Happy First Day of Spring!

[Chives trying – stepping stones swept]

     You have to have a sense of humor to live on the North Coast of the US.   A brief but persistent snow squall overnight reminded me that the Vernal Equinox and Spring are not necessarily synonymous here.    I have long told my kids that Groundhog Day is a joke; where we live, you are going to have six more weeks of winter whether that pesky groundhog sees his shadow or not.   Perhaps I need to work a bit harder on that Shiny, Happy Person thing.

     Yesterday was science fair day – both at the school where I teach and at the school my children attend.   Both schools had some amazing projects and some so-so projects.  All the projects at large urban HS where where I teach were clearly done by students.   Some of the projects at my community’s school were clearly done by parents.   One of the science teachers told me a story about a student in tears because he couldn’t set up his project on time – his dad was at work finishing it.   Sigh.

     It’s been a good week at school.   There was a bit more conflict than I like, but with adolescents there always seem to be boundary skirmishes.  The week ended with an assessment of a long unit starting with water, a brief tour of moles, and then solutions.   I wish my students had done better;  I need to do some thinking and adjusting. 

     It’s odd not to be teaching on a Friday.  It’s a conference day but nobody could figure out how to register me or if I was included for this event.    I went in to school this morning to make sure that all grades were in for the end of the marking period but am spending the afternoon planning for next week and getting organized for the rest of the semester.   Science Friday is discussing Darwin’s work and there are sunbeams.   Life is good.

     Happy Vernal Equinox!   The light is changing swiftly.

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     This is where I spent my weekend.  Campus is beautiful but… it was over 50 degrees, sunny every day, and I missed the St. Patty’s Day parade.    I was in the library under the watchful gaze of statues designed to represent Industry, Geography, Astronomy, and Navigation.

     I wanted to highlight some of the comments directed at me last week:

  • “Would you please just tell us the answer?   We have no idea.”   [This in response to what I thought was questioning designed to engage them in wondering.]
  • “I will never, ever use this again in my life.”   [I responded with some real world examples and was met with raised eyebrows and disbelief.]
  • On Monday:   “Are you here again this week?   How much longer is this going to go on?”
  • On Friday:   “Is it really your last day?  I heard that all the student teachers are done today.”
  • On two occasions:  “I have no idea what you are talking about!”

     Actually, the last one is my favorite.   I really like that I get feedback all the time from my students.  Some of it could be stated better and all of it includes “Miss” at the beginning of it but I am trying to figure out what it all means.   On the one hand, I am grateful that they tell me that they don’t understand;  on the other hand, many of them are making it clear that they cannot wait until I am gone and my CT is teaching again.

    The students’ reactions to having a student teacher vary:

  • some are “on strike” and have neither done any labs nor turned any work in since I started.   One girl is turning in labs with just her name on it, nothing else.
  • some are very clear that they are biding their time until they get through this.   [see comments above.]
  • some are being quite rude and disrespectful – hoping to provoke a reaction.   My Cooperating Teacher says that I may have to throw one or two out of class to make a point – :::sigh::: he is probably right.
  • some, not many, respond positively.   One student told my CT that he should promote me.

     I really can’t tell if this is because I’m the worst teacher ever or what.   Both of my CT’s have been amazing teachers.   The teacher that students visit frequently for years after they have had the class.   Observations were great because I saw this connection happening and I saw some amazing teaching.   Is it possible to build a connection in six weeks?   It is possible to be anything other than something to be “got through”?   Most of my students can’t wait to get their regular teacher back.   I think my CT also misses teaching these kids.   I wonder if I should put a countdown on the board so that everybody can see that it will be over soon.

     All of them are tired of doing labs.   I really like a hands-on approach to learning but this week will be notes and a virtual lab with some videos worked in.   Ugh…

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     This was the week I started teaching in my second student teaching placement after observing for two weeks.   The students are learning about pressure and gases so I started with the can collapse demo – results shown above.  The students were really surprised and I think I did well introducing the demonstration and connecting it to previous learning.  The students had many good questions and an exit ticket showed that most understood the reason for the collapse.  It was a good start.

     This week, there were things that went well but there were also plenty of learning opportunities.   For a lab we did involving balloons, marshmallows, and water flow, I designed a generic lab sheet for Predict/Observe/Explain and used instruction sheets at individual stations.   There was some initial confusion but the students adjusted and it will eliminate throwing out lots of extra lab sheets when students don’t show up for class.   I have some learning to do about classroom management – both in learning what I am willing to tolerate, and how to effectively and appropriately set boundaries about the rest.

     I have been fortunate to work with two Cooperating Teachers (CTs) who have great relationships with their students.   They connect with and engage them with the result that science class becomes a highlight of their day.    I have learned much from watching these teachers teach.   The downside is that many students are not enthusiastic about a student teacher taking over the class.

     Students are not afraid to let you know when they are not pleased and several have made it clear that they are counting the days until my CT comes back.   In my current placement, getting students to come to class is half the battle so keeping them interested and engaged is huge.   If I am going to be more entertaining, I need to get more sleep – by Friday, after five nights in a row of less than five hours sleep, I was definitely not at my best.

     I really like this placement.   I already know that I will be very sad to leave these students when my placement is finished.    This week, I definitely moved their cheese and I need to convince them that it is going to be OK.   (Book reference:  Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson and frequently quoted by my current CT.]

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