First Interview Experience- Check!

I had my first interivew today and no matter what comes for it- it was a good experience! I left feeling pretty good; I am sure I could have done better, but it could have been a lot worse too. Since it was my first interview experience, I found it very helpful for the ones still to come. I'll find out next week if I get put into the candidate pool or not. If I make it into the candidate pool, I am more likely to be selected for interviews for specific positions. If I don't make it- I will be able to understand better what I need to work on for next time. However, until I find out, it's hard for me to evaluate that. I am keeping my fingers crossed and tossing up a few extra prayers for good luck but I am beginning to also to just accept what happens and remember that everything happens for a reason.

These last few days (and for the next 2 weeks) I'll be helping my mom out at her daycare center. I am in a completely different element- being in the toddler and 3/4 year old room. They sure are giving me a run for my money and keeping me busy in a completely different way than my 4th graders. However, I am trying to think positive about it and am thinking it is good experience for when I have a little niece or nephew some day:)

Until next time!
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Finding something that works

 I spent numerous hours planning and working with a student one-on-one this year who had some very special circumstances. Due to his special circumstances, he couldn't read, didn't know the letter names or sounds, and found school to be extremely frustrating (rightfully so) and would just shut down. We tried numerous strategies to help him learn the building blocks to reading but found that many of our strategies would work for a week or so, and then his participation would just disappear and the refusal to do work would increase. One of the last things I tried with him was to develop a personal reader. I did for numerous reasons and will explain these reasons as I explain the parts associated with this reader. I've blocked out personal information.
This is the cover of the personal reader.  I printed off a blank chart and put it in the clear cover. I then used a blank transparency sheet and would write the schedule for our meeting and his independent jobs. Each day I would wash it off and re-write it for our next meeting. This way, he knew exactly what we needed to get through at the beginning of our meeting and knew what his jobs would be. 
This is the front inside cover. This is where all his sight words, content words, and sorts would be. I just clipped them onto the folder flaps and labeled them to keep it organized for him. Our content words were words from our story. I put a clear zipper pocket to store older sorts and sight words for continued practiced.

I included sound boards into the front. I had blends, vowels, and beginning consonants. When we began studying a new sound, I would highlight it in the sound board. This way, he could more easily identify the sounds we had studied. I had lined paper behind the sound boards and would have him try to do some comprehension work through answering questions, drawing pictures, etc. This is also where he would self-reflect on his participation for the day and record that.
I wanted to incorporate some fluency work to identify sight words that my student was still struggling with. I placed a fluency reading (this was a 1st grade level) into a plastic sleeve and wrote down 3 different days that we would do this same reading. I would record his number correct and a percentage and he would select 2 words that he wanted to focus on and improve for next time. I didn't know how well this would go, but he often would elect to do this one first to see if he could get more words correct each time and every time we did it, I can happily say he did! 

This is part 1 of the back cover of the folder. In the front pocket, I put the book that we are reading together during our guided reading time.
This is part 2 of the back cover of the folder. In the back pocket, I put the books that he selected to read during his independent time.

I feel like I had the most success with this strategy. Was it perfect each time? By no means! But I feel like he participated the most during it, largely because he had some choice and saw improvement in his work.  

I'm not sure how well this would work for a whole class, but I think if there were a group of students either struggling with getting through guided reading time or using their independent time wisely, it would help keep them stay on task and organized and have all their resources in one place, just for them. 
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Final Day with my 4th graders...

Today was my last day full time student teaching. I can't believe that it has been a year since I began this journey. A year ago, I found out who my cooperating teacher was, what school and grade I was in, and started to hear all of the 'stuff' I'd be going through over the next year. Fast forward to now, and it's all behind me now. Although I was technically a 'student teacher' I was with the same group of students for nearly an entire year. They taught me so much about teaching and how to manage a respectful classroom, that I feel completely ready to have my own room. I don't know how people who go through the traditional model feel prepared after only 8 weeks of student teaching experience.. but kudos to all of you who have done it.

Today was so bittersweet for me. My students came in this morning knowing it was my last day, some of them giving me hugs before they even entered the door. Others asked me if I would be working at the school next year and said that they would write the principal a letter asking if they would pick me as a teacher when I told them I wouldn't be here. A got numerous, hilarious cards, as well as some very sweet ones from students I least expected. Heck, I was even made a crown out of an old desk calendar page and was told to wear it the whole afternoon. Students hung up signs wishing me well and spent time reading their cards I made for each of them. I have to say, these are some awesome kids. Boy did they make me feel like the most important person in the world. I made sure that they knew how important each one of them was to me as well with all the things they taught me. We ended the day playing a RC cooperating game we played at the very beginning of the school year and it felt like a nice way to end our time together. The students had a blast, laughing and working with their teams... man those are some special kids. I wish I could post a picture of them, but for privacy reasons I can't do that. But I am truly going to miss them...

Last little note- I have my first interview next Wednesday! It's just a scanning interview, but it's the first step! I am just grateful that a school district is willing to give me a chance to show them what I can bring. I have to say I am so lucky to have a sister who is looking out for me and helped me out on this one by letting her principal know of my interest. Now, I just hope I don't blow it!! I'll be letting ya'll know how I think it goes. In the mean time, look for some of my posts on some things I did with my kids over these last couple of weeks together!
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4 more days...

I had my last Monday with my kiddos today. I am trying to soak up every last comment, smile, and "eureka moment,"that I can before I step out of the classroom. I've learned so much at my placement, and it was the students who taught me the most. They give the best feedback (whether they know they are or not), present me with unique challenges, and remind me how important they are to our world. I am so lucky to get to work with such neat little people. Leaving them will be bittersweet on Friday...

On another note, I had my final evaluation with my cooperating teacher and my University supervisor. I had made improvement from my mid-term evaluation and was pretty happy with what I saw today. There is still one focus that I need a bit more work on, which is one I've been working on all year. But to see the "demonstrates effectively" box checked for all the others made me feel like I am ready for my own classroom. Even my cooperating teacher said that my main goal now is just to get experience, to get my own classroom. Funny thing is, not many people I have come into contact with so far are willing to 'take a chance' on a first year teacher. But I feel like if I even just get an interview, I would be able to demonstrate my competence in this field and my passion that I would bring to it.

It'll be a nerve-wracking next couple of months. I don't anticipate to hear of any potential job offerings until August. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed until then!
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Introductions are in order...

Welcome, glad you've found your way to my little corner of the web!

I have to be honest. I feel kind of silly starting up a blog and talking about my little experiences that many people may or may not care about (that's if anyone will actually read this.) However, it's been a whirlwind of a school year and it's finally coming to an end. With one stress ending (student teaching) and another stress beginning (job hunting) I am looking for an outlet to release my ideas, feelings, and experiences to document this next huge step in my life.

But first... a little about this past year:
I graduated last May from the University of Minnesota with my bachelor's degree in el. ed. My degree did not come with a license, as the U requires a fifth year licensure program. I would be apart of the U's new pilot program where they were implementing a year long placement with an emphasis on co-teaching. On top of full time student teaching, I was to take 6 method courses that counted towards my Masters degree. On top of that, I was required to be apart of the field study for the TPA or Teacher Performance Assessment, which was a 9-part performance task that dominated a good 2 months of my life. This program brought much frustration, being a pilot and all, and although I may have not appreciated being the guinea pig, I feel like through the effort I put in, it was a great experience. Not to mention, I am now one course away from my Masters degree, which I will be trying to finish after I get a year or two of teaching under my belt.

I've had 9 months of student teaching at the same school, in the same classroom, with the same teacher and students. All of it is going to come to an end in a week. As I look back, I feel as if I already have a years worth of experience to my name. I've gotten to see student growth from beginning to (almost) end. I've gotten to build real relationships with colleagues and students. I've been able to identify and (begin to) develop my own teaching philosophy and strategies. Now... if only a school will take a chance on a 'first year' teacher. This may be my biggest challenge yet, as I've already heard the: "Oh, she's a student teacher applying for the position? Tell her not even to bother," excuse. But I am trying to keep my head high and maintain my faith in my ability to be an excellent educator.

That's all for now. Check back for news on the job search, some of my teaching stories, or any other little teaching tid-bits.
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