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Day 26

Today was the end of what felt like a short week. Although I’m exhausted and tired, mainly because I’ve been staying up late every night to finish my thesis, this week seemed to go by pretty quickly and it was enjoyable. I’m glad it’s the weekend, so I can continued working on my thesis.

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Day 25: Surprised by Kindergarteners

Today was another successful day of teaching for me at the elementary school. Again, I feel like I handled the classes well, delivered quality instruction, improved my management skills, and became more confident as an elementary art teacher.

I feel like I improved even more today because my cooperating teacher spent some time out of the classroom in order to hang up artwork for the upcoming Specials Showcase. She told me that they normally have a gym week in order to allow her to hang up the artwork, similar to how we had a gym week in order to allow the music teacher to practice for the Talent Show, but because I’m here, classes can continue as usual. I can conduct the art classes while she prepares for the showcase. My cooperating teacher said that she’s been going home much earlier with me here than she normally does and that she feels every teacher should have an assistant. I’m glad that I can help.

While my teacher was out of the room, I felt more comfortable and confident when completely taking over. I found that it was easier for me to manage the classroom because I didn’t feel like I was overstepping my cooperating teacher. She has a strong, in-charge personality, which can be a little intimidating and I know how much she doesn’t appreciate others taking over her classes and schedules, so I try my best to follow how she’d like things to be done. It wasn’t that I acted much differently when she wasn’t in the room, but I didn’t have a slight hesitation when a student was misbehaving to question whether my cooperating teacher would want me to handle the situation or if she would like to handle it herself.

Today, I also bonded and talked more with my cooperating teacher during lunch when we lesson planned and discussed school in general. She was telling me about her past job experiences and the hiring and interviewing process. She explained that it’s a lot easier to get a job when you’re first starting out than it is when you are already in a position. She explained that it’s harder to switch jobs or transfer around due to limited openings and contracts. It’s been difficult for her to land art positions and she even had to resort to being an 8th grade history teacher for a year.

One thing that completely stunned me today happened in Kindergarten.

My cooperating teacher and I generally have our lunch period before the Kindergarten class and because we didn’t have lunch duty today, I used that time to create more teacher-made examples for the 5th grade optical illusion lesson. I really like this lesson as I find it incredibly fun and easy to make the optical illusion. I was trying different shapes and colors than the ones I used in my last illusion.

When the P.R.I.D.E. Leader Kindergarten students entered the room earlier than class started, a perk they get for being a P.R.I.D.E. Leader but honestly just an annoyance for my cooperating teacher as it cuts down on her preparation time in-between classes, they noticed what I had been working on. They were completely enthralled with the example I had made and begged me to show them how to make it. Since today was an experimental day for kindergarten in which they could draw/make whatever they would like and we had a few minutes before class, I decided to show them how to make the illusion. I wasn’t sure if they would be able to create it successfully, but since they were so interested, I figured I’d play with their interests.

My kindergarten students blew me away by being able to successfully create the illusion.

I was seriously impressed. Like I said, my 5th grade students were struggling to create this illusion and somehow I had several kindergarten students master the lesson. There was one girl in particular who’s complete piece looked like a teacher-made example. The other students’ works weren’t as successful, but they weren’t bad at all. When my cooperating teacher came back from hanging up artwork in the hallways, I told her to look at the kindergartener’s works. When she did, she was just as impressed as I was. “We have 5th grade students that can’t do this!” she exclaimed.

“What?!” the kindergarten students giggled. “But it’s so easy!”

My teacher immediately pulled out a camera and began taking pictures of the students’ work. “I’m going to show my 5th graders,” she said. “I’m going to tell them that kindergarteners can do this.”

I have to admit that I was pleased with my performance today. Things are going well and it’s making me feel happier and better about everything. I’m still completely stressed about completing my thesis by the Wednesday deadline, but at least things are going well with Student Teaching.

< Wednesday, April 22, 2015 | Student Teaching | Friday, April 24, 2015 >

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Day 24

S.T.A.A.R. Testing

S.T.A.A.R. Testing

Today was the last day of S.T.A.A.R. Testing for this week and the end of the crazy schedule changes for the most part. As for schedule changes, today was exactly like yesterday with the older students having art classes in the afternoon with shortened periods and the younger students having art class in complete silence.

Surprisingly, I’ve found that the Kindergarten students handled the completely silent art classes the best and it was the the 2nd grade students who had the most trouble with it. I thought that yesterday’s Kindergarten students were struggling with staying quiet, but after experiencing several more classes, they actually handled it the best of them all! I’m starting to find Kindergarten not as hard to manage as I had originally thought. They tend to be quieter and less rowdy than the older students.

There was a complication with Kindergarten today, though. For a few weeks now, we’ve known that Kindergarten would be having a field trip today and that they would not be having art class. The principal thought that it would be a good idea to allow the Kindergarten students to get out of the building during a S.T.A.A.R. Testing day so that they wouldn’t have to be quiet and the students could test in peace. I agree that it was a good idea, but it didn’t end up going quite as planned.

As soon as the 2nd grade class ended, I began to set up for the next class, as is habit with a 5-minute passing period. Because Kindergarten had a field trip and 3rd grade students were testing, our next class was going to be a 1st grade class in over an hour. The 1st grade students are practicing their color-blending skills and are using crayons, colored pencils, and fine-tipped markers, as well as pencils. It’s a wide variety of supplies that require a good bit of time to set up. I had just finished setting up the whole class for 1st grade when the door opened and kindergarten students started pouring in. Immediately, my cooperating teacher went to the door and tried to talk with the kindergarten teacher, “Uhh, we’re not expecting kindergarten today,” she said.

“Really?” asked the kindergarten teacher looking dumbfounded. “I thought they were having art today.”

I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation because I immediately needed to tend to the children. Normally, our students come into the classroom and quietly go to the rug and sit and wait for instruction. It’s how we start all of our classes and the students are trained to follow that schedule. I have no idea why the kindergarten students today came into the classroom and gravitated towards all the supplies I had just put out onto all the tables. All of their hands were grabbing at the colored pencils and crayons and markers and pencils.

“Ooh, what are we doing today?!”

“Oh, look at this!”

“Wow, there’s a lot of stuff!”

With the teachers occupied, I had to take control of the 15 or so rambunctious, curious kindergarten students. Thankfully, they were all settled in less than a minute and sitting on the rug.

My teacher and I quickly scrambled to get all of the 1st grade materials put away and the kindergarten supplies set up. The kindergarten students were also working with a lot today and needed two sheets of paper, white and black, glitter crayons, construction paper crayons, gel markers, and pencils. Finally, when everything was settled, I began our completely-silent class as normal.

Then the phone rang. My cooperating teacher answered while I attended to the students and afterwards she told me that it was the gym teacher calling to ask her if we had also just gotten a hoard of kindergarten students unexpectedly, too. Apparently, the kindergarten teachers collectively agreed to have Specials classes today, but didn’t let the administration know. Both my cooperating teacher and I were frustrated and confused. My cooperating teacher said that things like this happen frequently.

After the class left, my cooperating teacher praised my flexibility. “You handled that a lot better than I would have,” she said. I have noticed that my teacher becomes upset when her schedule is changed without her awareness or when teachers try to take advantage of her, such as dropping classes off early and picking them up late. When things like that happen, she’ll often strictly declare to the students that they are early/late and that they need to sit in complete silence until class was actually supposed to start/after it was supposed to end. I agreed that it was frustrating and wasn’t handled well, but that we had to deal with the situation and couldn’t take it out on the students. She appreciated that I had just jumped into conducting class, like normal, even if we didn’t know what was going on or even if the students would be staying. All I knew was that we had screaming, crazy kindergarten students tearing through our supplies and we needed peace in order to figure things out.

I’m glad to know that I can handle crazy schedule changes well.


<< Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Thursday, April 23, 2015 >>

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Day 23: A Day of Silence

Today was my second day acting as the primary teacher and teaching all of the classes in my student teaching experience at the elementary school. Just like yesterday, I felt confident, comfortable, and successful. The day was also more enjoyable and I felt more involved and like I belonged. It looks like this is going to be a good week.

The day did begin a little rocky, however.

Today was the second day of the S.T.A.A.R. Testing this week and the 3rd grade students began to test. Unfortunately, the art classroom flanks a 3rd grade classroom and we can often hear each other through the walls. Because of that, I told my first class of 2nd grade students that we would be keeping the class at a Level 1 voice level. I monitored the class and quieted them whenever they began to become too loud. It was difficult as they needed constant reminding. At the end of the class period when the teacher was picking up her students, the principal came by the room and spoke with my cooperating teacher. Afterwards, my cooperating teacher told me that administration had received a noise complaint from the 3rd grade room we were flanking. I was surprised as the art room never really got that loud, but I decided to keep all of the classes at a Level 0 voice level, absolutely no talking, until the end of S.T.A.A.R. Testing.

The next class was Kindergarten and I told them about keeping the class at a Level 0. Again, it was difficult because the students needed constant reminding and we needed to silence anyone who began to talk immediately before it began to spread and grow. It was also no fun conducting an art class in complete silence. I feel like it was draining for the students, as well, especially because they were having to be completely silent in the halls, as well.

Another fact that didn’t help the noise level was the fact that the library was being used to administer S.T.A.A.R. tests so the library class was not an option in the Specials rotation of classes. All the classes that were supposed to have library class today were split up with a few students having gym class, a few having music, and few joining the class we already had at art. This meant that in each of our Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade classes we had about 6-8 extra students. We don’t even have enough table and chair space for extra students, so we had to sit these students on the rug and give them an alternate assignment, especially since they’d be coming to art again that week during their normally-scheduled time and we didn’t want them to get ahead of their classes too much.

The final schedule change was with the 3rd-5th grade students. Because they were testing in the mornings, all of their art classes were moved to the afternoon class periods. Because we only have two class periods after noon, though, they shortened the class periods to 30 minutes in order to fit three class periods. In the two classes that were starting new lessons, 30 minutes felt incredibly short, but for the 4th grade class in which they were continuing a past assignment, the class actually felt incredibly long. I thought that this phenomenon was odd, but perhaps it’s just because I get absorbed into instruction and tend to enjoy it while I don’t like the “walking around monitoring the class as they work” part of the day.

The new lessons that the 3rd and 5th grade students were starting were optical illusions. Interestingly, when I created teacher-made examples for these lessons, I felt that the 5th grade optical illusion was much easier to create than the 3rd grade one. I shared this thought with my cooperating teacher and she couldn’t remember why she had chosen one lesson for 3rd grade and the other for 5th grade. Even more strange, was the fact that the 5th grade students actually struggled with the illusion that I felt was incredibly simple and easy to make. Either I need to adjust my instruction, or the lesson plans are suitably selected for each grade and I just personally find that lesson easier than the 3rd grade one.

 

 

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Day 22

Today was the first day in which I became the primary teacher and taught all of the classes. I have been nervous for this day, but it actually went really well. In fact, I really enjoyed it and found today to be one of the best days of my elementary student teaching experience. I have found that I often feel better when I’m teaching all of the classes and will enjoy the day more as it seems to go by more quickly and enjoyably. I think that this is odd since I stress out and worry about taking over. Hopefully, this will be an enjoyable week since I should be teaching all of the classes this week.

I also feel that my teaching was successful and effective. I am really feeling like I can be an effective elementary art teacher. I expressed my confidence to my cooperating teacher, and she agreed stating that she has no hesitations on my becoming an elementary art teacher and that I am doing fine in her classroom. She stated that she doesn’t really have any suggestions for improvements for me and that I’ll do most of my improving when I actually take on a teaching position. “You’re just at the point where you need to jump in and start,” she said. “I think you’re done with Student Teaching; I don’t think there’s much more you can learn.”

Today was the first day of S.T.A.A.R. Testing this week, and the first day of crazy schedule changes. The schedule is going to be greatly changed tomorrow and the next day, so today we just had Kindergarten switched with the 5th Grade class. We also didn’t have lunch duty, so we had an extended lunch period and I was able to create teacher-made examples for the 3rd and 5th grade class optical illusions lesson plans.

I feel like the 3rd grade optical illusion is a little challenging. I don’t feel that it’s too advanced for them, but it requires a planning and critical thinking. In order to complete the optical illusion, students have to draw several lines on their paper in order to create several interesting shapes. They are then supposed to color in each shape in a way in which no two colors are touching each other, similar to a checkerboard pattern. Today we had several students struggling with the coloring and messing up. They’re finding ways to figure it out or work around their mistakes, though, and that’s what art is all about!


<< Monday, April 17, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Tuesday, April 21, 2015 >>