Sunday, February 2, 2014

Student Teaching Week 2!

Hey people,

Happy Sunday!

Today is one of my favorite food holidays of all:  Super Bowl Sunday!  First off, over a billion wings will be consumed?!  That's great news and I will happily participate in that American tradition!

Second of all, I'm cheering for the Broncs because I like Peyton Manning.  He just seems like a good guy, no?  And because Eric Decker is on the team and I love his show with Jessie James.  Thank God it has been renewed!  Deb even watches it with me...shhhh don't tell her I told you she is a closeted E! reality show junkie...not really just this show because she thinks they're funny.  Which is true!

Now on to Student Teaching News!

Week two went really well.  It amazes me at how much I am learning from just observing the classroom.  I'm picking up tricks, techniques, ideas, discourses, mannerisms, and interpersonal relationships that make a school go round.  I couldn't be happier with my placement.  For those of you that didn't know I'm in a K-2 Autistic Support classroom.  Prior to this placement I had only subbed in a classroom with students with Autism.  I also knew their teacher and their paras.  This time it was very different because I didn't know anyone!

This past week I got to meet my advisor.  Each student teacher is given an advisor that works with you and 3 other students.  Their job is to read your journal entries, give you pointers, observe you (I have my first observation on Wednesday--wish me luck!), critique you, and help you along.  They, mixed with your cooperating teacher, give you your grade.

1)  You'll find it easier to control students because you are pretty.  They'll want to listen to you.

FALSE!  First of all, what do I say to this?  Do I say thank you?  Or do I say LIES!  As a dance teacher, sub, babysitter, tutor, and practicum placementee, I know that this is false.  Kids will come up and tell you that you are pretty and they will behave for a little while, but guess what?  Kids smell fear! Kids know when you aren't prepared!  Kids know when you are not actually confident in your lesson.  This is where I have the most trouble.  When I sub, I am thrown into a classroom at 8 am and expected to teach someone else's lesson to someone else's kids with someone else's supplies cold.  There is very little prep time for the sub and the kids get out of hand when you don't know where the scissors are.  As a teacher candidate I have heard this time and again...The students will act up if you don't have everything ready and constantly keep them busy.  If you want kids to behave and follow suit, be organized, keep them busy, and squash the behaviors as soon as they arise.  Those are the three hallmarks of behavior management that I have found to be most helpful in teaching thus far.

Also, one of my previous co-op teachers told me to wear my hair in a bun and not to wear make up.  She said they are more likely to listen if you don't look your best.  They will respect you the less, I guess the right word is, attractive, you are?  Conflicting messages.  I usually wear makeup and either rock a ballet bun, curls, or straight because I think it looks unprofessional if you put zero effort into your appearance.

2)  Kids today are so well behaved.  Especially in wealthy districts like yours.

I do student teach in a wealthier district; however, I'm on the lower SES (socioeconomic status) side of the tracks.  My students come from all over the town though because this school is the program's home.  This is true/false.  Yes I am going to say it and I will continue to say it--SES makes a huge impact on students' discourse and learning outcomes.  Why?  Background knowledge, expectations, home life, the list could go on forever.  Poor is a disability.  Even if poor is not found in the list of classifiable disabilities it is a HUGE educational disability.  It is impactful on students' ability to learn!  Now that I'm off my rant here's my experience.  Sure, students who come from higher SES schools are more likely to know proper school discourse, but does that mean that they will always follow it?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Through my teaching experiences I have encountered students who come from boatloads of money.  Literally boatloads of money--they showed me pictures of their boats...I have also worked with students who came from inner city lifestyles and don't have two nickels to rub together.  Guess what?  Their behavior was not dependent on the money!  It was dependent on the way they were raised (cough parents cough) and the societal expectations.  Discourse is what distinguishes between behavior.  What is acceptable in a higher SES school is dependent on the accepted discourse of that school.  What is accepted in lower SES schools is dependent on the accepted discourse of that school.  There are pros and cons to both situations.  Some of the higher SES kids feel and act towards you in a manner that suggests that you are their servant.  This makes them feel entitled to treat you in such a poor manner.  The students in the lower districts sometimes behave as if what you are teaching them has no purpose in their lives.  However, this is not a universal truth.  I have had students who are very wealthy who are very polite and respectful.  I have also had students who are very poor act in the same manner.  It is very dependent on the parents, the student, the teacher, and the environment.  I hate it when I hear people say that parents of students in low SES and inner cities do not care about their kids.  This is 100% false!  In both of my practicums in an inner city parents came into the classroom to participate, parents dropped off their children, parents wrote the teacher notes about their child, they were actively involved!  In the time I spent in the classroom (a total of 15 3 hours visits) I met 6 out of 24 parents.  That is 1/4 of the parents in the class!  Just because students are rich does not make them better behaved.

3) Don't worry, when you graduate you will have your pick of positions

I HATE THIS LIE THE MOST!  People wonder why we are the "entitled generation"?  Well this is why!  The truth is that not everyone gets a job.  Jobs are not handed out to you, you have to compete, you have to work your butt off trying and preparing and hoping that you get lucky to get a teaching job in NJ.  Every night I lie awake praying, hoping, and wishing that I will get hired.  Times are tough out there!  I will probably not get my dream job right off the bat.  That is an impractical way of thinking about things.  I'm probably going to take the only job that will be offered to me.  Maybe I'll get lucky and have the option to pick from two--probably not though!  I wish people would stop saying this.  This also makes those of us that don't get jobs feel like crap.  If jobs are so easy to get, and just given out like you are suggesting, then what is wrong with me?  Just tell us the truth--you may get hired is a much more appropriate assessment of the current educational hiring climate than this lie.

So now that my rant has come to an end I will tell you about the exciting things I get to do!  I started leading Circle Time!  I love Circle Time and I'm a big believer in Morning Meeting and all of the great things it does for students from modeling behaviors, conversation skills (both receptive and expressive), and to learn more about your fellow classmates.  As a teacher it lets me learn a little bit more about my students as individuals and as communicators.  We used PECS.  For those of you that don't know what PECS is, let me explain.  PECS is Picture Exchange Communication System.  The students essentially match a picture to the concept/book/song/weather pattern/desired activity that they want.  It's a great stepping stone to a talker.  It also allows students to voice their feelings, choices, desires, fears, and wants to the group.  This week I added new weather PECS to our Circle Time routine.  The kids all responded well to the additional PECS and we will keep incorporating them into our routine.

I hope you all have a great week!  Fingers crossed for a SNOW DAY!!!  My school has pajama day tomorrow so it will be a rocking Monday for me either way!



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