Drive-Thru Students

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

Today was my second day at Comal Independent School District’s Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School. I started off feeling incredibly moody and tired and even went to school wearing my glasses instead of my contacts. It was difficult for me to adjust to the high school schedule because it’s earlier than I’ve been used to these last 5 years or so, and now I’m having to adjust to the even earlier elementary school schedule. When my body is allowed to sleep whenever it likes, such as during the summer breaks, my normal sleeping schedule is 4:00am to noon. I am very much a night owl and find myself drowsy in the afternoon-evenings, but then instantly wide awake around 8:00pm. It can be hard for me to get to sleep early and wake up in the early mornings. I have always known that this would be a challenge for me when I enter the professional world and even wrote it as my biggest concern for student teaching during training.

Today seemed to go pretty much the same as yesterday did. Unfortunately, my cooperating teacher still didn’t really seem to open up to me. It still feels cold and awkward between the two of us and I don’t know what to do to warm it up. Whenever we speak, the conversation quickly comes to a halt and we’re in silence again. Another big issue is that I’m a workaholic and a fidgeter. I must be doing something at all times, preferably something productive. This has been an issue my whole life and I’ve had several teachers and professors address me about multitasking in their classes. When I’m listening to a lecture, I have to use my hands, such as writing notes, drawing pictures, or working on something else, like filling out my planner, writing a shopping list, etc. If I’m not doing anything, I start to zone out and stop listening or I’ll get nervous and can’t think about anything but the desire to do something. Thankfully, after speaking with my instructors, they’ve always allowed me to continue because I’m an accomplished student and still answer questions, take part in discussions, and earn high grades. This nervous tick was driving me crazy today, though, as I again felt as if I had nothing to do.

When I was student teaching at Canyon High School, I felt I had plenty to do. When my teacher didn’t ask me to take attendance, sign hall passes, grade papers, enter grades into the gradebook, or make copies, I could manage her rowdy classes, help students with their artworks, create examples for the lessons, organize and clean the room, or even just sit at my desk and work on something, such as taking notes or filling out my planner or reflection journal. I had my own personal workspace and I felt completely comfortable, welcome, and free to do anything.

Around the second or third class period, after feeling as if I had nothing to do in a well-managed, completely clean and organized class in which the students and teacher didn’t need any help, I decided to sharpen all of the colored pencils and clean out the colored pencil bins of shavings and dust. Still able to observe the class, I brought a small trash can to where the colored pencils were located and faced the class while I hand-sharpened every last colored pencil in the room. I can tell you that my hands were rubbed raw by the end of it, but several class periods had gone by and I was in a much better mood. My teacher also mentioned that the students would appreciate my work. I figured this would also help my teacher as yesterday we had a few issues of students sharpening both sides of the pencils for fun or simply sharpening pencils just to waste time or because they were fascinated with the pencil sharpener. Now that all of the colored pencils are sharpened, though, I’m not sure what I’ll be able to do.

Today was also my first experience with dismissal duty as I joined my cooperating teacher outside the front of the school after the school day had ended. She instructed me to stand by one of the five colored poles and collect tickets from students before opening the car doors for them. She told me not to buckle the students into their seats, but to simply open and close the doors. I had never seen anything like this system before and was completely mesmerized. After the students came out of the classrooms, they gathered by the school’s walls by grade level. A mobile speaker was brought out and the gym teacher began reading off the names of students from signs posted in the windshields of their parents’ cars into a microphone. “Carlos Mendoza go to Blue. Susan Harrison go to Yellow,” she would announce.

I couldn’t help but think of a fast food drive-thru.

A parent would drive up to the school and flash a sign with his student’s name on it, then we would prepare the student and by the time the parent drove up to the crosswalk at the entrance, the student was ready to hop into the car and drive away. I know that this system is meant to boost efficiency, but it still seemed odd to me. The parents didn’t even have to get out of their cars as we did all of the work for them. Drive-thru students, I’ve just never heard of it before.

At least this pick-up system will help me learn the students’ names.

<< Monday, March 9, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Wednesday, March 11, 2015 >>

Goodwin-Frazier Elementary

Photograph by: Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School

Today was my first day student teaching at Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School in the Comal Independent School District. I was paired with a new cooperating teacher today and met her before classes began. It was a little awkward at first as we made our introductions and my teacher went back to what she was doing without explaining anything to me.

“Can I help you with anything?” I asked.

“Umm, no, not really,” she responded and returned to her work.

I placed my lunchbag on the floor and started taking off my raincoat.

“Oh, I don’t really have a place to hang your coat. I just have this closet,” my teacher explained as she opened a closet. Her coat and purse were inside and there were several free hangers, so I was a little confused as to why she said she had no place for my things. I hung up my coat and purse and placed my lunchbag on a shelf above the hangers. I then clutched my folder and pencil bag as I glanced awkwardly around the room. “Oh, I don’t really have a place for you to sit,” my teacher responded. “Some of the classes are a little large and take up all of the seats. Here, I’ll clear off a spot on my desk. Sorry it’s really messy,” she said as she cleared a stack of papers from the corner of her desk. Again, her desk was extremely well-organized matching her spotless classroom, so I didn’t think that she needed to apologize. She cleared a corner from her desk that was just big enough to place my folder down.

I felt really awkward right from the start and honestly, it never got better. It seemed from the very beginning that my cooperating teacher was indifferent about my presence. She seemed to ignore me as she didn’t explain much, tell me what she was doing, give me advice, or ask about myself. I’m not a strong chit-chatter, myself, so I would occasionally ask a question or make a remark, but after my teacher gave little back to respond on, the conversation would die and we would be in silence again.

Thankfully, the classroom that I am in is a dream; definitely the kind of room I would like to work in. Unlike my classroom at Canyon High School, the room was immaculate. Everything was completely organized, labeled, and color-coded. Each of the tables have a large colored sign hanging from the ceiling marking the table as “Blue,” “Red,” “Green,” or “Yellow,” and there were bins of markers, colored pencils, crayons, and other supplies each marked with a matching green, red, blue, or yellow tag. The markers were then organized into colored cups, all the red-colored markers in a red cup, the blues in a blue cup, and so on. As an incredibly organized person, myself, I felt ecstatic and right at home. I’ve heard people say that it’s just not possible to have an organized art room, but this proves otherwise.

Classes began and I was instantly shocked at the level of the students. I always underestimate elementary students of what they are capable of and at what level they can speak and act. The students knew to enter the classroom, sit on the rug, wait for instructions, go to their seats, and take the bins of supplies with the matching colors to their tables. I’m never around young people so it surprised me that they acted like small adults. Perhaps elementary won’t feel as much like babysitting as I was anticipating.

I was surprised with how my teacher acted, as well. She was very direct with the students and seemed a little harsh when she corrected their behavior. When a student misbehaved, her tone was strong, forceful, and a bit scary. She was quick to make her point clear. She also didn’t seem to teach how I expected an elementary teacher to teach. Her voice carried no enthusiasm as her tone stayed flat and her message sounded uninteresting. She seemed to talk to the young students like she would talk with anyone. If I had only heard the audio from her instruction, I would have guessed it came from a business meeting, not a kindergarten class.

Unfortunately, my teacher also seems to use a follow-me teaching style as I saw what the second grade students were working on. The students were creating Gustav Klimt pattern cats as they drew cats and then filled them with patterns and gold paint. The only issue was that every single student’s cat looked exactly the same. My teacher explained that she gave all of them a coffee lid to trace for the head and then had a step-by-step lesson to show them how to draw the rest of the cat’s body. The cats were really well drawn and were in an interesting pose that was large so that they could be filled with pattern, but the students didn’t have to put any thought into the drawing process. I feel that students should have the opportunity to flex their creative skills and draw their own cats, perhaps with small reference pictures to help.

As the day ended, today, I felt incredibly out of place at the elementary level. Everything went fine and nothing seemed challenging, I just didn’t enjoy the day as much as I did at Canyon High School. It may also be because I never felt comfortable with my cooperating teacher. She just didn’t seem to want me there or to know what to do with me. I never feel comfortable when I don’t have a place of my own, especially a chair with a desk. For some reason, I feel incredibly uncomfortable if I don’t have a desk to sit at, in all scenarios, so without somewhere to sit I felt awkward and unable to take notes. At my previous student teaching placement and even my internship before this I had at least a chair, which boosted my confidence.

I’m hoping that things will turn up. Hopefully my relationship with my cooperating teacher will improve and I’ll find my place in the classroom. I also hope to find enjoyment at the elementary level, especially since I’ll be here for almost two months and will be certified to teach at the elementary level. Let’s see how tomorrow goes.

First Day of School

<< Friday, March 6, 2015 | Student Teaching Reflections | Tuesday, March 10, 2015 >>

Today was my last day Student Teaching at Canyon High School. It was very bittersweet as I have come to love something about each of the students. I met my goal of learning every single one of their names and took the time to learn about them as individuals. I also became familiar with the teachers, the school, and the schedule. Today, I actually felt like this was just a normal day and then realized that it will all be changing again on Monday. Monday I will start Student Teaching at Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School with a new cooperating teacher.

Today I gave my cooperating teacher a small gift and thanked her for her service. I really enjoyed her critique, suggestions, and feedback. I thought that she was an effective mentor and I’m glad that I got paired with her. Although we may not have the same teaching styles, I still feel like I learned a great deal from her.

During some of my classes, students were sad to see me go. A large group of boys gave me a group hug after I announced that it was my last day and throughout the day several students stopped by during passing periods to give me a hug and say bye again. My cooperating teacher said that it’s moments like that when you know you’re doing something right and that you’re there for a reason. I really enjoyed learning which students really enjoyed being with me.

Today my cooperating teacher was pulled out to substitute for another class again. I feel like she’s been pulled out every single day this week. This gave me a final chance to flex my teacher muscles as I managed the classes during their work days. It was difficult to get students to work again; this time because it was Friday and they were all looking forward to the weekend. I can’t count how many times I heard, “I don’t want to work right now. I’ll do it over the weekend.” It didn’t help that my teacher extended her Friday deadline to Monday because of the shortened class periods this week. I really struggled getting students to work diligently.

I made sure to take photographs of all the student work from the lessons I created, though I wish I could have seen them finished. The clay creations from Art I are still sitting on the back shelves and I don’t know when they’ll be worked on again. The students keep asking me when they’re going to paint them, but it’s all up to my cooperating teacher. The Painting III/IV students were supposed to have finished their paintings today, but several of them did not, and some of them looked rushed or were turned in unfinished. I’m not sure if extending the deadline again would have benefited them or not because they tend not to work when the deadline isn’t close. Some of them also don’t appear to care about deadlines at all as one student who was nowhere near finished would not work on her piece today. I’m still learning how to set deadlines, yet remain flexible with the curriculum.

Overall, it was a pleasant day, but odd to think that I may never set foot in Canyon High School again. “Have a great life!” I called out to the students after the bell rang as I may never see some of them again. It’s always odd to me to think that I will get to know some of these people really well in a short amount of time and then never see them afterwards. It’s odd, but that’s how it would be when I’m a teacher as well. At least I’m not one who gets all choked up about having to say goodbye. I enjoyed my time at Canyon High School and I hope that this trend continues.

| Student Teaching Reflections |

Today was another shortened day as classes were delayed until 10:30am. Because the students still went to all of their classes, they were all reduced in order to make up the two hour difference. This meant that we had two days in a row with shortened class periods that made it difficult to get the students to work. With such little time in the day, they felt like they didn’t need to work. I’m not sure how a teacher might combat this. Today was a workday for the students, so perhaps making it an instruction day may be more beneficial. Work days can be difficult to get students to actually work and when they’re cut short, it’s even more difficult.

Lately, my school has been short on substitute teachers. Because of this, my cooperating teacher has been pulled out of the room to substitute for another teacher several times in the last two weeks. Today she was called out of 2nd and 3rd periods, so I was left in charge of the classes. Because it was just a work day, it was simple, but it was still a challenge to get the students to work. It was especially difficult for 3rd Block as students were unmotivated and rowdy. I tried my best to assist students and manage the class, constantly reminding the class that their new assignment is due tomorrow and that they have no time to waste.

During 4th Block, something happened that astonished me. Yesterday, an incredibly skilled student had painted a photo-realistic bird on a large piece of paper and I was discussing the background with him. He was convinced that he wanted to crop the paper, which would not meet the criteria standards and I thought would hurt the piece. I was talking with him about background options, but he wasn’t liking any of them. Finally I convinced him to try some kind of background and if he really didn’t like it, then we could crop the picture and paint the background white again. I tried to explain that once he cropped it, that’d be it and he couldn’t go back, but with trying a background, he could always paint over it. After class yesterday I saw his painting on the drying rack with a gorgeous array of colors. I was thrilled with the background he had added and thought that it really enhanced the piece.

Student Work

Student Work

Today, my teacher found the student painting over the entire background with white paint at the start of the class. She had also liked the colored background and began freaking out when she saw what he was doing. “What are you doing?! Don’t do that!” she cried. She called for me to come over, and I also pleaded that he stop and think about what he was doing. The student explained that he didn’t like the background and that he just wanted to paint it all white and crop it down. I talked with the student for a bit to figure out what to do. The white wasn’t thick yet, so some of the colors were still coming through. I thought that it looked interesting and added a unique texture, so I offered he continue that around the entire background. I also suggested he only use dark, cool colors when he explained that he hadn’t liked the bright yellow colors in the background. He decided to paint the background white and then figure out what to do after that.

The student continued painting over the background when suddenly my teacher came and grabbed the painting from him. “Nope, you’re done,” she said.


“Nope. I said you’re done. You’re not ruining this any more than you already have.”

“But Ms. Deatherage,” I began, “the damage is already done.” I tried to stop my cooperating teacher because he hadn’t even finished painting over the background. Now it looked incredibly unfinished. If he at least painted the whole thing white, it would look more unified.

“Nope. You can have it back after we grade it.”

“Well, isn’t it going to get a really low grade for not being finished?!” the student pleaded.

“I don’t know,” explained my cooperating teacher. “Miss Brooks will be grading this. What grade would this get?” she asked me.

I suddenly felt put on the spot. “Well, it’s obviously unfinished. Half of the background hasn’t even been painted…”

“You can get it back after we grade it,” my teacher concluded as she tacked the painting to the wall where students are required to place finished work.

“But it’s still wet!” the student called out.

The student wasn’t very upset, but I still felt odd. I would never take a painting away from a student like that unless they were throwing it in the trash. If a student is working on a painting, then it’s not finished and shouldn’t be turned in. Although the original background was better, there wasn’t anything we could do at the point where half of it was already painted over. The student should have at least been able to paint over the whole thing and then try out a new background or do whatever he was thinking to improve the piece. This situation may have also hurt the student’s ego, security, or even how he feels about his skills and decision-making. I was just very taken aback by the whole ordeal.

Throughout Student Teaching, I have definitely learned that students will hate their artwork more often than they will like it. I have amassed an enormous collection of artwork from students who didn’t want to keep their artwork or even threw away their artwork. I have been salvaging all of the artwork I can. I believe that when students have more control over the assignments and what they are creating that they will come to like their artwork more. I feel that students should have more freedom in this regard. I’m really sick of seeing artwork in the trash or hearing of students wanting to paint over the whole thing. Hopefully this won’t be as big of an issue in my class.

| Student Teaching Reflections |

Today felt like a rushed day because it was an Early Release Day for the Comal Independent School District. All of the classes were cut short to allow the students to get out two hours early and, as a result, it was difficult for the students to complete work in such a short amount of time.

Today was another intersting day of observation as the classes seemed to be even more out of control today than they did yesterday. 1st Block was fine because it’s AP and there’s only four students, but the 2nd Block class was wild and crazy. Before class even started, several students were at the front of the room, one student messing with the computer, one sitting at the teacher’s desk, and others standing around not getting their work out or working. One student was even wearing my cooperating teacher’s glasses.

Throughout the entire class period, my teacher was not able to get the class managed, and this is the easiest Art I class of the day! She kept egging students to start working, telling them to have a drawing done by the end of the day, and instructing them to stop goofing off and get back to work. It seemed like no matter what she did, she couldn’t convince them to work. Finally, she pleaded, “Fine, I’ll just bribe you to work! Anyone with a drawing done by the end of class will get a lollipop or other candy!” The class was still rowdy and unproductive, but several students earned the reward by the end of class.

The next period started as my teacher was called out of the room to substitute for another class. I jumped into the lead and tried to take more control over the class. I had everyone be completely silent so that I could deliver the information. I told the class that they had the option of working on their clay or on the new drawing assignment, but those were the only choices. I also explained that because the drawing assignment is due this Friday and the clay has no deadline at the moment, they should probably work on their drawings. I questioned the students to make sure they understood and set them to work.

One student was incredibly reluctant to start drawing because he doesn’t believe in his abilties, so I decided to inspire him with word art, a form of art made using words. After showing him some examples and asking him how he could integrate it into the current drawing assignment, he was suddenly excited. “Oh…I can do that! I can write words, so I can make art with words!” he exclaimed and immediately set to work. He had a finished drawing by the end of the class period. I felt proud to have inspired him and I hope that he’ll continue with this confidence throughout the year after I leave.

My teacher returned shortly and, together, we managed the class and kept them productive in the short amount of time that they had. I kind of felt that my teacher needed my help, so I decided not to return to the back of the room.

I did the same for 5th Block, aiding my teacher in assisting the students and managing the class. 5th Block was better today, but still hard to deal with. My teacher started off the class with a new seating chart, which really only moved about four or five troublesome students. The students were confused and unhappy with the change, but thankfully obliged without any issues. The seating change seemed to make a huge difference today as the disruptive students were quiet and not troublesome. They actually completed work, although it took one student a lot of coaching to get started. Overall, the class was loud and unproductive, but that seemed to be the trend with all of the classes today. Perhaps the Early Release Schedule was throwing off the students or making it feel like they didn’t need to accomplish something in the shortened amount of time. Between the two of us, my cooperating teacher and I helped students stay on task and figure out what they were working on.

During 7th Block, my university supervisor came to observe me at Canyon High School one last time. My cooperating teacher wanted to instruct, so I was asked to assist. I circulated the room and tried to help students get started on their pop art paintings. It was difficult to get some students to put away their electronic devices and pay attention to the presentation that my teacher repeated from yesterday.

After the observation, my cooperating teacher and university supervisor sat down with me to give a final evaluation. Thankfully, everything was what I was expecting, which shows that I am good at reflecting upon my own strengths and weaknesses. I know where I’m at and what I need to improve on. I’m glad that there weren’t any surprises. Basically, I am skilled at instructing, setting instructional outcomes, creating PowerPoints and lesson plans, and lecturing. Anything to do with planning, delivering information, creating assignments, etc. I have nailed down. Where I need to improve his mainly classroom management. I still need to work on my “teacher voice.” I need to find a way to get the entire class to stop talking, pay attention to me, and keep their attention on me. I also need to find procedures for dealing with incorrect behavior and act on them. This is my least favorite part about teaching and it’s what I most need to improve on.

Thankfully, my university supervisor explained that this is where most new or student teachers struggle, and they quickly learn the ropes and improve within a few years. She’s confident that I’ll find my place in my own classroom and will make a successful art educator. That’s a comforting thing to hear. I’m looking forward to a bright future!

| Student Teaching Reflections |

Today was an interesting day as I stepped down from my podium, returned to the observing position, and allowed my cooperating teacher to reclaim her position as the primary teacher. I felt way less stressed as I walked into the classroom knowing that I wasn’t responsible for anything today. It was also a bit odd though as I felt that I needed to fill my cooperating teacher in on what’s going on, especially since she was absent the last few days, so that she could pick up where I left off.

I was surprised at first that my cooperating teacher did not ask me how things have been going, where the students are at, or anything. At first, she seemed to ignore my existence. Finally, she asked if there was anything new to report, and I filled her in on where all of the students are at. I told her about what each class is doing, how they are progressing, and let her know that I finished grading all of the artworks and quizzes from all of the classes and entered them into the grade book. “It’s all graded, so you just need to hand it all back and catch up with the students who were absent,” I explained. The weirdest part, though, was when she asked me to move from where I was sitting.

“Can you find a different spot to sit? I want to be able to get to the hall passes easily. You can sit in the back where I’ve been if you like,” she said. I was incredibly confused as I’ve been sitting at this desk since my first day of Student Teaching. This was the desk that she instructed me to sit at, explaining that it was my space to work and observe. Anytime that a student needed a hall pass, I would pull it out from the drawer and fill it out for them which actually seemed to help my cooperating teacher. With this process, the hall passes were guarded and my teacher didn’t have to stop what she was doing to fill out a pass. I don’t know where this sudden change came from, but I obliged as I moved to the back of the room.

It is different being at the back of the room. Several times students asked where I was as they couldn’t see me. I also felt very removed from the classroom. Before when I was observing, I would walk around the classroom, help monitor and manage the classes, and interact with and assist the students. Today, I wasn’t sure if my teacher wanted me to or if she would rather me simply observe. I walked around and assisted ocassionally when I began feeling too removed. I don’t mind being at the back of the room if that’s where my teacher would like me to be as I can still observe and learn, I’m just confused about the change.

Today was an interesting opportunity as I was able to observe my cooperating teacher in a new light. Although I have been observing for weeks, I had a new perspective. Because I have taught in this classroom as the primary teacher for a few weeks, I could now observe my teacher with new insight. I could see how she handled situations I struggled with and notice techniques that I used that seem to be more effective than hers. I was pleased to find that the classes were about the same as when I was in charge, so perhaps my classroom management skills aren’t in need of as much improvement as I may have originally thought.

The advanced classes, (AP, Painting III/IV, and Painting II,) are not difficult to handle and they went about the same as they always do. It was the Art I classes, (2nd, 3rd, and 5th Period,) that I was most interested in observing. I immediately noticed that the 2nd and 3rd Periods were actually less managed and more wild than when I was in charge. Students were incredibly verbal, way more confident in moving about the room and messing with each other, and were more combative in getting to work. They felt comfortable wasting time and picking on my teacher. My cooperating teacher was very friendly and playful with the students, so I’m trying to figure out whether I need to lighten up a bit or if it would benefit my teacher to harden down a bit. The 2nd and 3rd periods did go pretty well, but the 5th Block class was not as successful.

Read more

Today was a pretty good day overall and I am happy with my results. Today was the last day that I will be acting as the primary teacher in the classroom. Today was also the day my cooperating teacher decided to take her “free day” which she is awarded for having a Student Teacher. She was allowed to take the day off while I taught the class without a substitute in the room. It was only me in the room, but I felt comfortable and confident.

Today, my Art I students took the Printmaking quiz that I worked on last week. There were three versions, one for EA Special Needs students, one for integrated Special Needs students, and one for the rest of the students. My cooperating teacher advised that I give the Special Needs version to students who were also just struggling in the class, but may not necessarily be identified as Special Needs. I found it difficult to remember who to give each quiz, especially since I was supposed to do so in a way that no one knew there were different quizzes. I ended up making one mistake, giving a student who is struggling in the class a “normal” quiz. After grading his quiz, though, he actually did well on it and would have only gotten one more question right on the Special Needs quiz. It’s difficult to keep track of all of the students with their individual needs and try to meet their needs in a private manner. This is something I will need to continue working on.

After grading all of the quizzes, I was pretty happy with the results. Most of the students did really well and there weren’t any questions that most of the class missed, meaning that my quiz seemed fair. I was especially worried about the diagram of a print I had put on the quiz that asked students to read some information such as, “This is Lindsey Brown’s fourth print. She plans on making ten prints in total. She wants to title it “Fox Eyes,” and then label the print using the information. Almost every single student succeeded with that part, which made me very proud. Many of the students did not label their prints correctly, so I’m glad to see that they can at least do so on a quiz.

Other than taking the quizzes, the rest of the class periods were work days in which students were continuing their clay creatures. Several of the clay creatures dried over the weekend, but we did have a few casualties. An elephant lost its head, a fox lost its horn, and several creatures had cracks or breaks. I worked with the students to repair their pieces and hope that they will dry without breaking this time. I’ve still been working with students to try to make their pieces strong in the first place so that their pieces won’t break when they dry.

I still found it difficult to manage the Art I classes when they were working on their clay creatures, but I’ve been told that it’s just always going to be that way. Thankfully, today was a lot better than Friday. Students were still out of their seats, needing hall passes, refusing to work, on their phones, messing with friends, needing my help, and all of the other activities that generally go on every day. I feel that I am learning how to generally manage these classes. I’m just worried about another serious event coming up, but hopefully I’ll be better able to handle it now.

There’s really not much else to report as it was a pretty chill day. I administered my quiz and found it to be fair and successful. I graded the quizzes along with other artworks that I’ve been struggling to find the time to grade and started handing back work. I made lists of the students who were missing work or were absent for the quiz and will be checking in with these students tomorrow. I entered all of the grades and feel caught up on everything. I am proud of my work today and look forward to tomorrow.

| Student Teaching Reflections |

Today was an odd day as it was good for the most part, but I had one of my worst classroom management issues.

Today, my cooperating teacher was pulled from the room as the school was short on substitute teachers. She was asked to sub for another class, so I was the only teacher in the room all day. I wasn’t worried as I’ve subbed for my teacher several times and have been the primary teacher for almost two weeks now. Plus, it was Friday, and the classes are usually easier to handle on Fridays.

The classes did go well for the most part. I was direct with the students about what I expected from them at the end of the day, even though it was a work day, and I reminded them about the quiz that they’ll be taking on Monday. I helped students continuously and seemed to bond with the students as well as they talked to me about their interests and told me that they didn’t want me to leave after next Friday. I felt that the classes were productive, yet fun. I was feeling pretty good about everything, but then 5th Block occurred.

5th Block is notoriously the hardest class to control and the most tiring class of the entire day. I was expecting today to go smoothly as it was another work day and because the Special Needs students had let me know that they were not going to be in attendance today. We have a group of about 10 Special Needs students that come to the class each day, so without them, the near-40-student class would be greatly diminished. I thought that this would make the class quieter, more focused, and easier to handle. Unfortunately, I had several issues and did not address them all correctly.

The class began as normal with several different students needing me for several different reasons. I was taking attendance when I received a call from Tutorials asking for one of my students. When I told the student he needed to report to Tutorials, he wouldn’t go at first. Students needed to get a drink, go to the bathroom, needed my help, and some even needed to turn in assignments from last week. I felt overwhelmed for just one person. Finally, everything was settled and the work day began, but there were some students I just could not get to work. It’s hard to motivate students to work, help students who need assistance, manage students who are misbehaving, and keep an eye on the entire class at the same time. Teaching is way more than I was expecting. I just don’t remember seeing this many problems when I was in high school as a student.

Read more

Today was an okay day. Thankfully, I felt in a better mood than I have been most of this week as I felt less tired and more chipper. I’ve been feeling increasingly stressed all week.

Today I had a new experience as I was invited to sit in on an ARD Meeting. I have never had any experience with an ARD Meeting before, so this was enlightening and I learned a lot. While I have studied and learned about these meetings in classes, it is much more beneficial to actually see the meeting in person. This particular meeting was addressing a student with incredible vision disabilities. Legally blind and 19 years old, this student is working towards becoming more independent so that he can get a job and start living a more independent life. I’m not sure what kind of program the student is in, but it seemed incredibly beneficial for his needs. The members in attendance seemed to care for the student personally and were talking about his transition to a new program. They kept talking about his long-term goals of getting a job in the food industry or becoming a farmer, and would talk about how to help him reach those goals. I was surprised at some of the expectations they had set for the student, such as learning how to shower independently, fill out a job application, find transportation to and from work, and other life skills. These are skills that I do not feel are well-taught in the school system, so I was surprised that this student was in some kind of program that focused on teaching like this. His mother was also encouraging and interested in the meeting, wanting the best for her son. At the end of the meeting, all members signed in agreement for the year-long curriculum for the student. This was an incredibly beneficial meeting for me to witness.

Other than the ARD Meeting, the rest of the day was pretty standard as all of the classes have been participating in work days in order to complete their current assignments. I am still finding it difficult to help all of the students efficiently and effectively and managing all of the tasks that must be done such as taking attendance, signing hall passes, handing out supplies, and managing the classroom. I still feel like this job is too big for one person to handle.

This was incredibly apparent during 5th Period when the Special Needs students’ assistants asked for my assistance. The assistants felt that the students were completed with their clay creations and they wanted my approval on the pieces before setting them out to dry. While I was approving, I was showing how the creations needed to be made more sturdy in order to not break during the drying process. They also asked me to help two students who would not create a creature in particular with the clay, but would just play with it. I obliged, but this took up a great deal of my time and the rest of the class needed me as well. At one point, while I was helping the Special Needs students, my cooperating teacher emerged from the back of the room to manage the class and discipline misbehaving students. I felt hurt that I wasn’t doing my job well enough that my teacher had to intervene.

Today was tiring as I felt flustered and overworked. There’s also still a large pile of artworks and papers that need to be graded on my desk that I can’t seem to find time to grade. Even during my Conference period, something comes up, like the ARD Meeting today. Teaching is an incredibly exhausting career and I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to this kind of workload.

| Student Teaching Reflections |

Today I made three versions of the same quiz! I was asked to make a quiz for the Art I classes to take next Monday over the Printmaking unit they just recently completed and was happy to create one. I was then surprised when I was asked to create different versions, especially since the Color Theory quiz the Art I students took did not have different versions. I was asked to make one for the class as a whole, one for the students who have been identified as Special Needs in some way, and then one for the Special Needs students who come into the class separately and who are paired with assistants, (the EA students.) When the students took the Color Theory quiz, the EA students were simply excused and there weren’t alternate versions made for the integrated Special Needs students. Although my teacher may not make alternate versions, I was happy to create alternate versions, myself.

I was pleased with my original quiz as it contains a variety of questions: true or false, matching, labeling, fill in the blank, etc. I was also excited about my image of a print that the students need to label correctly. Overall, I think this quiz is well-made, so I will have to see how the students handle it next Monday.

I then created a modified version for the integrated Special Needs students and adjusted it after receiving feedback from my cooperating teacher. She suggested I make it shorter, take out harder questions, give less choices during matching and multiple choice, give choices during fill in the blank, and use images. She also explained that I would need to hand this modified version to identified students without anyone knowing that they were receiving a different version. This sounds tricky as I’ll have to personally hand each student their quiz to make sure they are receiving the right one without anyone knowing there’s a difference.

Afterwards I created one for the EA students. I was confused about making a quiz for them because they were excused last time. Many of the students cannot speak or will not speak, and some seem to have incredibly low function. My cooperating teacher and I suggest that one student is at a one-year-old’s level or so. How can I test someone who doesn’t even understand a language yet? I created a 5-question quiz that focused on basic ideas. I used pictures and all questions were multiple choice, many times with only two choices to choose from. I learned a great deal from making these quizzes, and after getting approval from my cooperating teacher and an EA assistant, I feel confident in my ability to modify for students’ needs.

Other than making the quizzes, the rest of the day was pretty standard. All of the classes are working on the same assignments from last week and have work days to try to complete them. I felt frazzled during the Art I classes, as always, as all of the students seemed to need me for something. I am still finding it difficult to manage these classes, especially when it comes to behavior. At one point, my cooperating teacher addressed a student for using foul language, and I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t caught it.

I still feel like I need to improve my classroom management skills. Lesson planning, making quizzes, and delivering instruction, I feel that I have mastered. I can create interesting presentations, keep students engaged, and create useful activities with clear learning objectives, but it is hard for me to raise my voice and it is hard for me to discipline students. I still feel that I have much growing to accomplish.

| Student Teaching Reflections |

Today was another tiring work day in which my entire day was filled with classroom management and assisting students as they work. I have found that I don’t like work days much. It is tiring on me as I pace the room and help students as they need. In the Art I classes I am frantically moving about as several students call for my help constantly. My feet hurt, I feel flustered, and I get incredibly bored. The days feel long, and I feel like I’m doing the same thing every day. I feel as if I’m not benefiting the students since I’m not actually teaching, but I know that’s not true. The students are receiving my personal help and are learning through creating as they work on their artworks. I just feel more energized when I’m actually instructing or presenting material. I haven’t figured out how to brighten work days for me.

Today I continuously ran out of clay for the Art I students and had to cut clay several times. Thankfully today was Cougar Time where classes are shortened to allow for a new class period in which the students participate in activities led by a peer team leader. I used this extra class period to cut more clay which I ended up needing again. I have found that I needed more clay than I thought and it may have been more beneficial to cut all 10 or so boxes of clay in one long setting, rather than cutting one box at a time. I am sick of cutting clay. It’s long, it’s dirty, and it’s hard to fit into the day. Next time I do clay, I’ll prepare for it better and cut all the clay I need ahead of time.

Because yesterday’s critique with the Painting II students didn’t seem to go well and all of the students turned in their artworks without changing them anyway, I had to come up with another thing for them to do while the rest of the students finish their assignments by the Wednesday deadline. It’s crazy that some students finished within a few days and others don’t look like they’re going to make the deadline. It’s hard to set deadlines in the art class.

To occupy the Painting II students temporarily, I decided to allow them an experimental day, something I’ve seen my cooperating teacher do. I explained that I would give a new assignment to the whole class tomorrow and today they have the day to experiment. “Dig out the watercolors, the acrylics, the pastels! Try something you haven’t tried before! We’ve got plenty of scrap paper; today’s about experimenting and learning on your own!” I was pleased that the students were very receptive. All of them were eager to try something on their own and many of them grouped up and painted together. There were portraits, landscapes, watercolor, acrylic…I was excited for what they were creating and learning. I thought that this was a beneficial experience for the students and an exciting reward for finishing early. They were occupied, painting, and seemed to be learning. Unfortunately though, my cooperating teacher told me afterwards that she would prefer that I have an actual activity for the students instead of allowing an experimental day. Tonight I need to prepare a new activity for the early finishers to work on. In the future, I think that an experimental day could be a positive reward for good behavior or possibly for students who finish early. As long as students are working and learning, I believe that it is beneficial.

| Student Teaching Reflections |

Today was the beginning of my second week acting as the primary teacher as if my cooperating teacher was not in the room. I found that I was much more comfortable and confident today and felt as if I’ve been the actual teacher the whole time. I’m not sure why that is since I’ve only been the teacher for about a week, but maybe it’s because I have substituted for my teacher at least 5 days. In a way, this is my third week as the primary teacher!

This week is primarily a work week for all of my students, so my job will be mostly classroom management and helping students personally. I found that it is still difficult to assist the Art I classes as students need clay, printmaking materials, ideas, inspiration, personal help, management, so many things! I am finding it difficult to bounce from one student to the next and having to tell students that I’ll get to them in a second as I help another who’s called for help. This is increased in difficulty when a large number of Special Needs students is in the class as I must greatly modify for them and aware their assistants of the day’s agenda and procedures. I literally feel like I’m teaching two classes in one during those class periods. Thankfully, my cooperating teacher has been assuring me that while the class may seem chaotic, I’m actually succeeding in keeping the students busy and well-managed. Whenever she says this I feel a lot better as I find myself with sore feet, just about out of breath, and feeling a bit defeated after the Art I classes. Perhaps I just need to build more self-confidence and assurance. I may just need to adjust to this hectic and busy job.

Today I learned a good deal more about the Painting II class. Last Wednesday we started a new painting assignment, “What’s Your Problem?” an assignment that the class voted on. I was expecting the assignment to take the full two weeks that I would be teaching but after a day or two I quickly realized that the students were working much more quickly than I anticipated. I set a deadline for this Wednesday, but still found that almost half the class was finished on Friday. Because of this, I needed to quickly come up with something else. Today, I decided to hold a miniature critique with the students who had finished. Those who hadn’t would continue on their projects and wouldn’t participate in the critique. We aligned all of the completed pieces along a table and I had all of the completed students gather around. I explained that the point of the critique was to see how successful the pieces were and to suggest ways to make them even stronger. I reminded the students that they had until Wednesday to make any changes and make their pieces incredibly strong.

Read more