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 Honor’s thesis, Faux Foxes: Fox Domestication and Pet Ownership, this week seemed to go by pretty quickly and it was enjoyable. I’m glad it’s the weekend, so I can continue working on my thesis, though.

Today was another standard Fitness Friday. The morning began with a Friday assembly, then we had a shortened 2nd-Grade class to start off the day of gym classes. Unfortunately, because a huge storm blew in this morning, there were tremendous amounts of water and puddles outside that prevented us from using the outdoor space for the students.

Fortunately, this did allow me to see a new game.

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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 than she normally does, with me here and that she feels every teacher should have an assistant. I’m glad that I can help.

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Stock© Sharon McCutcheon, Some Rights Reserved Pexels

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 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.

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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.



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 >>

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

Today was the Talent Show!

I’ve been excited for today all week. Not only have I been managing boring and exhausting gym days every single day this week and last Friday in order to allow students to practice for the Talent Show, but I also hadn’t seen any of the acts beforehand. All of the students had been practicing on the stage in the gym with the curtains drawn, so all of the acts were a complete mystery to me. I could hear the music coming from the stage, but I had no idea what kind of act the music was accompanying.

Today, I was on my own as my cooperating teacher took her “Student Teaching Free Day,” today in which she can take the day off and doesn’t need to have a substitute teacher in place. She picked this day in particular because she said it would be the easiest day all semester. The Talent Show was taking place during every single grade level’s Special period, so there were actually six mini Talent Shows today. All I needed to do was manage the crowd, making sure the students were seated properly and quiet throughout the performances. This was especially easy with the help of the homeroom teachers who stayed to watch the Talent Show and the administrators who came by, such as the principal. The students were well-behaved today, as well.

I was pleasantly surprised with the Talent Shows!

There was an incredibly diverse variety of acts in the shows. I was expecting a majority of singing acts, but there were several other acts including hula hooping, jump roping, magic, comedy, skits, dance routines, breakdancing, yo-yo tricks, piano playing, guitar playing, gymnastics, and even basketball tricks. The diversity kept things interesting and I was really impressed with some of the students’ talent. I also really loved the energy of all the acts and how excited the audience was. The audience couldn’t help but sing and clap along with the musical acts and it was fun to see their expressions when something exciting happened.

I was also surprised at the amount of parents and family that showed up. I was worried that there wouldn’t be a large audience because the Talent Shows were taking place during the school day, but many parents ended up coming. During the final, 4th Grade Talent Show, the gym was completely packed! It was incredibly exciting.

At the end of the day, an administrator said that the Talent Show was fantastic and such a great production to put on right before the start of another round of S.T.A.A.R. Testing next week. “It really lifts the spirits of the students with all of the support and shows them that they can do more than take tests!” she said.

There’s not really much else to report, as this week was kind of overtaken by the Talent Show, but it allowed me to witness how an elementary school puts on a large production like this. It is time-consuming, schedule-altering, and tiresome. The music teacher was so relieved at the end of the day, saying that she could now check the Talent Show off of her to-do list.

<< Thursday, March 26, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Monday, April 20, 2015 >>

In the Gym

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

Today was the last gym day of the week. I am so glad to be done with the same exact thing over and over and over. I have managed the same gym class 24 times in a row! I watched students run laps around the track while I marked their hands to show how many laps they’ve run and then watched them play with the gym stations…over and over and over…every single grade, every single class.

I am ready for something new!

Today, my cooperating teacher was out so I was paired with a substitute teacher. I liked working with this teacher and observing his teaching style. It always intrigues me to see how others teach. This person was direct and blunt with the students, but fun and playful at the same time. He would ask students how their days were going, start up friendly conversation with them, and even played with them during their stations times. I saw him toss a football with some 2nd grade boys and start a hula hooping contest with some 4th grade students. I was completely floored when we were lining up all of the kindergarten students at the end of their class period and he used his booming voice to take control of the entire grade. He started a competition between the four lines of kindergarten students to see which could be the straightest and quietest. I’d never seen the kindergarten students so well-behaved, and even their teachers were stunned to see them so straight and quiet when they came to pick them up. The music and gym teachers seemed to like this substitute as well, as the music teacher requested he sub her class in late May and the gym teacher wanted him for three days in June.

Today, there was a constant luminous storm seeming to be coming. We were outside with the students all day and sometimes it would start sprinkling, but it never picked up into a full rain. During the last class period, there was some incredibly loud thunder claps, but there was no visible lightning. The substitute and gym teacher started discussing when the requirement to bring the students in was.

“Do we have to bring the students in? There’s thunder,” the gym teacher said.

“There’s no visible lightning though. I think it’s when we first see lightning,” the sub responded.

I wasn’t sure, myself. A few minutes later, though, the gym teacher called all of the students inside and we spent the last 10 or so minutes in the gym. When the students can’t go outside, the inside of the gym is so crowded with them all playing with all the various stations. It really makes you appreciate that outside space.

Of course, the one moment it did decide to start down-pouring was during outside dismissal duty when I was standing outside of the front of the school without an umbrella, helping students into their cars. After I got pretty soaked, a teacher came and took my position so that I could grab an umbrella for myself and the gym teacher from the front office. I was thankful for the umbrella afterwards, but I had already gotten pretty wet. Once I got home, I had to switch out of all my wet clothes.

But it’s all right, because tomorrow is the Talent Show! No more gym days!

AC/DC – Thunderstruck

Here’s one of the songs that’s played at the beginning of the Friday assemblies.

<< Wednesday, April 15, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Friday, April 17, 2015 >>

Today continued the Talent Show practice in which all of the students are either practicing for the Talent Show or partaking in a gym day during their art classes, but it was actually kind of an eventful day! I did actually get to teach one art class today because my university supervisor was coming to observe me! While all of the students still had their gym day, my cooperating teacher had to pull one class of 1st Grade students to come to the art room for an art lesson. Because this class was the only 1st Grade class to partake in this lesson, I wanted to give them a new one-day lesson that would not throw the class off-track from all of the other classes. Though they started their dinosaur drawings last week, they won’t be finishing them until all the 1st Grade classes work on them next week.

I was a little nervous for my observation because I created a lesson plan for the 1st Grade students that I thought might be a bit too challenging for them. I wanted to focus on warm and cool colors and decided to have the students illustrate a starscape in mostly warm or cool colors. I thought that this would allow them to experiment with color and blending in a way that wouldn’t focus heavily on content matter as the colors can be randomly placed in the background. I was also a little unsure on the time-frame. I was worried that the students would finish too quickly or wouldn’t finish before the end of class. I also have not been performing as well at the elementary level as I did at the middle and high school level, so I was just nervous altogether!

The observation seemed to go well for the most part, though. I loved teaching the students as I was interested in the lesson plan and they seemed to be interested in it as well. They seemed pretty excited for it and were all rambunctious with their questions and curiosity. I was student-centered with my instruction and kept the lecture interactive, asking the students questions and for their opinions. I also gave a demonstration in which I asked for the students’ input to help me create a composition.

After the class, I spoke with my university supervisor and cooperating teacher and received feedback on my performance. My university supervisor noted that I am still stronger at the secondary level and have much to improve on at the elementary level. She said that one of my biggest weaknesses is noticing distractions that students find, whether it be something in the classroom or another student’s disruptive behavior, and taking care of the problem. She mentioned that there was a student distracting another during my instruction that I failed to correct. I’ll need to keep a better eye out for distractions when I teach. She mentioned that I can get a little too focused and absorbed in the actual lecture that I tend to go a little blind. She mentioned that my instruction could have been a little stronger with more visual aids, more instruction on how to use varying pressure with the materials to create different marks, and telling students where to put the scrap paper from when they tore the wrappings from their oil pastels. Overall, she said that my instruction is always on-point, but my classroom management skills need improvement, especially with younger students.

I’ve known this whole time that classroom management is my weakness. Am I not improving, or is my improvement just progressing slowly? How can I better my skills? Unlike instruction, it’s not something that you can really practice. I suppose I’ll need to do more research on classroom management and just focus on improving that aspect.

Unfortunately, after my supervisor observation, it was back to the gym for my cooperating teacher and me.

I mentioned that today was an eventful day and it wasn’t just because of my observation.

First off, as my cooperating teacher and I entered the gym, we found the music teacher looking flustered. “I don’t know where the gym teacher is,” she told us. “It looks like it’s just one of those days…” I had mentioned in a previous reflection that the music teacher made a remark similar to this, so it seems like the gym teacher may miss a lot of days with little to no reason. This can cause problems for the other teachers because she either doesn’t call into the school or calls to late so that a substitute teacher is not arranged. “I’m not going to be able to practice for the Talent Show,” the music teacher concluded, realizing that she would need to help us manage the gym classes. “I’m not going to be able to practice with 2nd Grade at all anymore because we have morning assembly during their class tomorrow. This is unfortunate.”

The 2nd Grade students began to enter the gym and the music teacher put on the gym headset and began managing the class.

The morning gets even more exciting, though.

This morning, while the 2nd Grade students, our first class of the day, were running their laps outside, my cooperating teacher and I suddenly heard a lot of screaming and laughing coming from the students across the other side of the track from where we were standing. While the students were on their second or third lap out of eight, a dog had appeared on the track from the neighborhood across the street. The students were laughing and screaming as they were chasing and playing with the dog. It was a happy and fun moment, but we had to cut it short. There’s no telling if the dog was infected or dangerous or something. The students chased the dog around the track to where the music teacher was monitoring and she instantly took charge. I noticed that all of the students began running into the gym and figured that she was sending everyone in.

After all of the students were in the gym, the music teacher had them all sit down on the floor, be quiet, and receive a lecture. She was incredibly disappointed in their behavior and response to the dog. She explained that the dog could be dangerous or harmful or sick and that children should know not to play with dogs they don’t know. “What do you do when you see a dog you don’t know?” she asked. “You come find an adult so that they can figure out what to do. You don’t run and chase and play with the dog.” She had the students sit in silence while we called the office to figure out how to get rid of the dog. After calling, the students were allowed to start playing with the gym stations.

It kind of felt like a zombie attack or something as all of the students and teachers were “trapped” inside the gym. Occasionally, we would glance out the window and find the dog still sitting right outside the door. Every now and then, we’d look outside, not find the dog, start sending kids out, and then the dog would come running around the corner and we’d have to send everyone back inside. Finally, near the end of the period, I glanced outside and didn’t see the dog. We then heard on the walkie-talkie that the dog had been placed in the Pre-K playground, a playground flanking the other side of the gym that was fenced in. While this did remove the dog from the gym’s track area, the dog was now inside the middle “courtyard” area of the school where several classes walk through during passing periods. Because of this, the next class began with 5th grade students running in screaming, “There’s a dog outside!” It took us several minutes to pry the students from the gym’s doors and to their spots so that we could begin class.

Thankfully, the gym teacher showed up around the time the second class was starting. “Did you guys know there’s a dog outside?” she said. Thankfully, her presence allowed the music teacher to conduct Talent Show practicing as planned, but she did miss out on that time with the 2nd Grade students.

Later, during our lunch break, my cooperating teacher told me that it’s kind of common for the gym teacher to arrive late to school or just not come for little to no reason. She said that the gym teacher will sometimes park in the back of the school or enter through a back door to not be seen by administrators and that she hasn’t gotten into trouble as far as she knows. My cooperating teacher explained that it puts her in a difficult position because she doesn’t want to damage their relationship by reporting her since they have to work together every Friday. “This is just what it’s like in the Work World,” she explained. “It wasn’t this bad at my previous schools.”

The rest of the day was the same gym day that we’ve been having all week and will have again tomorrow. My cooperating teacher and I lesson planned during our lunch break and she decided that she’ll be calling for a substitute tomorrow and taking her “Student Teacher Free Day” on Friday, so she wanted to have next week’s plans ready to go. She also suggested that I take full control of the classes next week, so that’s going to be interesting. I’m a little nervous about taking over, especially with my thesis deadline coming up! I’m so stressed out about finishing everything in time!

Let’s hope I make it through this semester.

<< Tuesday, April 14, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Thursday, April 16, 2015 >>

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

I feel like I really don’t have much to report again. Because of the Talent Show this Friday, today was another Talent Show practice day in which the music teacher called all of the students to the gym during their Specials (music, gym, library, and art) time. She then took the students who are performing in the Talent Show to the stage to practice with them and the rest of the students participated in a gym day which the gym teacher, my cooperating teacher, and I managed.

Yesterday the gym teacher had all of the students run 6 laps around the track before they were allowed to play with the various gym stations. Today she increased the number to 7 laps and told the students that they would be running 8 laps tomorrow and 10 laps on Thursday. She explained that 10 laps make up a mile. I thought it was interesting that she was expecting the same thing from every single grade level. The 5th Grade students are running the same amount of laps as the kindergarten students. I am also wondering how the younger students will deal with the increased laps because yesterday I had a kindergarten student who didn’t finish her 6 laps before the end of class. Will the students be able to run 10 laps before the end of class and still have time for the stations?

This is an incredibly short reflection, but I really don’t have anything else to say. I watched students run laps and play with toys. It was the same thing as yesterday and every other Friday here at Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School.

I’m not looking forward to doing this two more times this week.

<< Monday, April 13, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Wednesday, April 15, 2015 >>

This week there won’t be as much to reflect on as the Talent Show is this Friday. Because the Talent Show is this Friday, the music teacher is pulling all of the students this week from all of their Specials classes (Music, Gym, Library, and Art,) and practicing for the Talent Show with them. All of the student who do not get pulled are being sent to the gym for a “Fitness Friday” type of gym day. This means that my cooperating teacher and I are not teaching any art classes this week!

I was surprised to find that we’re simply doing a “Fitness Friday” schedule every single day this week for every single class. Every single class is running laps around the track and then having free time with the gym stations. It’s really rather annoying, and my cooperating teacher’s a little annoyed too. I don’t understand why the Talent Show students couldn’t have just been pulled from the regular Specials classes. Why did all the students who didn’t get pulled have to go to the gym?

Like I said, there really isn’t much to report. I watched students run laps. I watched students play with basketballs, scooterboards, hula hoops, and jump ropes. Rinse and repeat. I’m not looking forward to doing this 24 times this week.

There was one moment of significance, though.

While I was monitoring the students while they were running their laps and marking dots on their hands for every time they ran a lap to keep track of how many laps they ran, a kindergarten student came running up to me, “There’s a bird over there! There’s a baby bird over there!” he yelled. I looked behind me and found a large group of kindergarten students gathered around the building’s wall.

“Oh no! Don’t touch it! Tell everyone not to touch it; I’ll be there when I can!” I responded.

I didn’t know what to do at that very moment since I still needed to mark students’ hands with dots and I didn’t want to leave my post and cause a panic. I searched around for my cooperating teacher, but she had gone into the gym to monitor students inside, and I didn’t know where the gym teacher was either.

Moments later, another kindergarten student ran up to me and dropped a baby bird in my hands. The bird was quite young and hadn’t even grown all of his feathers in yet. His beak was intensely bright yellow and what feathers he did have were striped. I’m not exactly sure what kind of bird he was, but since there’s a lot of house sparrows nesting around the building, I figured he was a house sparrow. (I just did a quick Google Image search and yes, that’s exactly what it was.)

“Oh no!” I yelled out. ” I told you not to touch him. We have to put him back! We have to put him back!” I tried to reason with the kindergarten students that had gathered around me now, but they were pleading about how they needed to help him, keep him, save him. “No, we have to put him back exactly where you found him!” I gave him back to the student who was originally holding the bird and told her to put him back.

Moments later my cooperating teacher came outside from the gym and I called her over and told her what had happened. She went over to the group of kindergarten students and shouted, “Everyone get away from the bird! No bird! Get away from the bird! She cleared the area and stood watch for a moment to shoo away student who tried to return. For the rest of the class, we had to keep watch and keep students away. They were so interested and invested that they kept trying to return.

After the class ended, I Google searched on my phone what to do with a found baby bird. According to what I read, the best thing to do was really just to leave the bird there. I read that bird’s do not have a good sense of smell, so they won’t actually smell if the bird’s been touched by a human and that their parenting instincts are so strong, that they’ll continue to raise the bird on the ground. I read that the bird has high chances of living if there are no cats or dogs in the area. This gave me hope and made me feel a lot better as I really didn’t know what to do and I just wanted to help the poor animal. He was sitting on the ground shivering ferociously.

I’m hoping that the bird will be all right.

<< Friday, April 10, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Tuesday, April 14, 2015 >>

Friday Assembly

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

Today was a pretty good day, though I feel that there’s not much to report because it was a Fitness Friday.

The day began with the usual Friday assembly, though this one was much shorter than previous ones. Next week’s agenda was discussed, the new P.R.I.D.E. Leaders were given their badges, the birthdays from this week were celebrated, and the pledges were said. After assembly, there were still 20 minutes left of the 1st period class, a rare occurrence.

Unfortunately, it was raining all morning, so we were not able to take the students outside and instead had to hold gym stations inside. This caused quite a bit of chaos, since there’s usually half of the students inside and half outside. Instead, we had to squish all of the students inside with the basketballs, scooterboards, jump ropes, hula hoops, hippity-hops, and other toys. Another inconvenience was the fact that the music teacher was practicing next week’s talent show on the stage. This meant that all of the stations that are normally on the stage, such as the gymnastics mats, puzzles, crayons, building blocks, etc. had to be moved to the gym floor. Although we placed cones to separate the basketball area from the wheeled vehicle area from the gymnastics area from the hippity-hop area, etc., it was still a crazy mess with students running over the cones or just ignoring them.

It’s a challenge managing so many hyperactive and excited students!

After the 1st period ended, the jump ropes had been left in a complete mess. They are normally hung on a wheeled rack, but the ropes were so tangled the rack couldn’t even be rolled. I took the 5 minute passing period time to unravel all of the jump ropes and hang them back up appropriately. I also hung them up by size and color and was pleased when I was finished. The gym teacher saw my work and was incredibly happy and pleased. “Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen the jump ropes so organized!” she exclaimed. “The whole time I’ve worked here, it’s never looked like this!”

The next period went about the same as the first did. I spent my time making sure that students were safe on the wheeled vehicles, trying to explain to the students playing basketball that they weren’t supposed to travel with the ball out of bounds, and re-setting the cones that were ran over, pushed aside, or moved about.

When the next class period began, though, the gym teacher approached me with an proposition. She thanked me for the jump ropes again and began to ask if I’m an organized person. “Is your house really clean? Do you keep everything neat? Do you hate when things are messy?” she asked. I told her that I actually like organizing and I keep everything organized in my life. She was stunned. Then she asked if I’d be interested in organizing the gym’s equipment room. “I don’t want to pressure you, but if you like doing it…” I was thrilled. I absolutely love organizing things, and when it’s helping someone, it’s even better. For the rest of the day, I bounced between helping managing the students in the gym and organizing the equipment room.

Although the gym teacher kept saying that the room was horrid and that she was embarrassed by it, it really wasn’t bad at all. Everything was grouped together, all the balls in one bin, all the cones in one stack, it was just a little cluttered. Everything was basically organized, I felt it all just needed a home. I moved things around, sorted things a little better, and made sure that everything was in some sort of barrel, box, pile, stack, etc. By the end of the day, the room was completely organized with nothing out in the middle of the floor like before. Everything was on a shelf, put away, and easily in view.

The gym teacher came into the room and lost her mind. “It’s so clean! I can see everything! I’ve never seen it like this before!” She was so thrilled, that she video taped the room, photographed it, and began sending the photos out to other staff members. She called for the music teacher to check it out, and they were both in awe together. I felt happy to help and just excited that I got to organize, something I absolutely love doing. “Now that I can see what we have to work with, I feel better about Field Day!” the gym teacher said.

I’m really glad that she liked the room and I’m happy that I was able to help out. It made today a good day.

Katy Perry – Roar

Here’s one of the songs that’s played at the beginning of the Friday assemblies.

<< Tuesday, April 7, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Monday, April 13, 2015 >>

Today allowed me to improve upon my teaching from yesterday.

The day began with 2nd Grade, a class in which I hadn’t actually taught yet. Because I was unfamiliar with the lesson, I asked my teacher to teach the first class yesterday so that I would be better prepared to teach today. The students were painting flower still lives inspired by Vincent Van Gogh. At one point, a student pointed to the picture of Starry Night behind me and exclaimed, “He’s famous for painting that painting, too!”

I’m incredibly embarrassed for responding, “No, that was painted by Vincent Van Gogh. That’s a different artist.”

It wasn’t until the next time that I said Van Gogh’s name that I realized my mistake, corrected myself, and apologized to the student. I don’t know where my mind was at! I need to make sure that I’m on top of my artists for the future. On a side note, I’m completely stunned that a second grader recognized Starry Night and its artist!

During 1st and 3rd Grade was when I was really able to improve my teaching. I focused on what I learned from yesterday and the suggestions made by my university supervisor. During the 1st Grade demonstration of drawing a dinosaur from observation using size, shape, and position to help you, I made sure to demonstrate the planning process with the students. I motioned with my finger before I drew and began by drawing a bad example and asking the students, “Is this what I’m looking for? Is this right, or is it too small?” They were all eager to shout out that I had drawn my dinosaur too small and needed to make it bigger. I also focused on distractions and made sure that they were removed from the students. I had to move my teacher’s wheeled office chair when one student began messing with it and had to inform another student to put away the toy that he was playing with. I also set a daily expectation for my 1st Grade students, telling them that they needed to complete their dinosaur drawings today and if they were able to, they could move on to coloring. The biggest change I made was making sure that I was looking across the entire room constantly, rather than looking from one student’s work to the next. It can be difficult to remember when you’re trying to see where the students are at and if you can help them!

Tiny Seed, Giant Blossom

Tiny Seed, Giant Blossom

Another big improvement I felt I made was with my 3rd Grade students. They are creating collages inspired by Piet Mondrain’s simplistic primary-colored paintings. I took what I learned from yesterday’s class and used it to help out today’s class. I was able to tell the students to glue their primary colors before gluing their black outlines, rather than gluing the outlines and trying to cut out a shape to fit inside the outlines, like yesterday’s class did. I also challenged the students to create more complicated and intricate designs with smaller shapes and emphasized that Mondrian worked with squares, rectangles, and vertical and horizontal lines. This prevented students from wanting to work with triangles and diagonals like the previous class.

I’m really happy with the improvements I made and I feel that the students’ work benefited from the changes. It seemed much stronger today than it did yesterday.

Today, I was also given the chance to create a teacher-made example of the Kindergarten lesson during my lunch break. My cooperating teacher is reading The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle to the Kindergarten students and having them create a collaged flower using cut-up strips of pre-painted paper. The paper is the leftover paper from the 2nd Grade lesson last week in which they painted pieces of paper in different colors and then cut them up to create collaged insects. My cooperating teacher explained that she will also use the leftovers after this Kindergarten lesson to allow the 1st Grade students to create collaged caterpillars after reading Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I like that she uses leftovers from different lessons to create new lessons from different students.

I was actually surprised because my cooperating teacher commented on my teacher-made example, today, something she’s never done before. “Wow, I really like your flower!” she said, “It turned out really well.” She explained that she liked that I used more pastel-like colors that were more blended together and more transparent than the flat, saturated, tempera colors that the students were actually using. After seeing my example, she said that she was now going to change the lesson to end up more like my artwork, with more transparent, pastel, blended colors. She was happy to have the inspiration.

After school, I attended a staff meeting with my cooperating teacher. I brought food to contribute to the potluck and tried a few odd desserts. The meeting began with the introduction of a short agenda and I immediately noticed that much of the meeting wouldn’t apply to my teacher and myself. The meeting covered testing, holding students back a grade, flagging students that need assistance, and other homeroom teacher duties. Anytime a paper was handed out, the principal told the person handing out the paper, “Only the homeroom teachers need that. The Specials don’t need it.” The only paper we ended up getting was the calendar for the rest of the school year. We did get an Easter egg filled with candy, too, though. I liked that the staff meeting seemed fun, lighthearted, and lively. There was food and decorations and freebies and everyone seemed to like being there. At the same time, the meeting points were serious, though. I was intrigued to hear the school’s process for holding back students and the fact that it was incredibly student-centered. The principal explained that a student will only be held back if it’s in the student’s best interest. If the student’s been held back before, then they won’t do it again because it’s not effective. If the parents veto the proposal, it won’t happen. All cases are looked at on a one-on-one basis. I really enjoyed hearing that they’re really looking out for what’s best for the students. They even mentioned that if a student is too big and would be much bigger and older than the other students, they won’t hold him back. I was also interested in the fact that the principal stated the being held back has been linked with emotional trauma later in life, including divorce. I never knew that!

After the meeting, I mentioned to my cooperating teacher that it didn’t seem like much of the meeting applied to her. She explained that most of them are like that and hardly anything ever applies to her.

At least there’s food!

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

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