Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First Impressions

So I started my student teaching assignment on Monday. Not sitting at a computer daily is definitely going to affect my blogging time, so be forewarned!

Day 1
On Monday, I was a little nervous about starting student teaching. I had a bad cold all weekend, and my sleep schedule was completely off, so I didn't get a ton of sleep the night before. Fortunately, my cooperating teacher had called me on Sunday to remind me where to park and what to do when I arrived.

I found the school with no problem and arrived early. My cooperating teacher (CT) was already in the room, and she gave me a place to put my stuff and we went to a meeting. Our schedule is as follows (7 periods total): Periods 1 & 2 - prep, Period 3 - cover 8th grade lunch, Periods 4 & 5 - 7th grade class, Periods 6 & & - 7th grade class. So we have two classes for two blocked classes.

My CT introduced me to tons of faculty and staff, and everyone was very friendly, although I know I'll have trouble remembering names. There are 4 7th grade classes and the curriculum is very strict - we're all teaching the same thing and there's not a lot of wiggle room in the lesson plans. This is my biggest concern so far...when I start to write the lesson plans, I am worried I'm not going to have a lot of input, and that not having that input will lessen my experience. The good thing is that there are 3 other teachers we can work with to discuss the curriculum and determine what has been successful and what doesn't work.

My CT did not introduce me to the kids on Day 1. She wanted me to just observe and for them to ignore my presence in the classroom (which they did). I was nervous about major behavior issues, especially b/c she had warned me that her second class was a little rowdy. But they just took a little longer to settle down, and the only issues were really with kids talking during class. I can so handle that!!

So Day 1 went well. I definitely took a lot in!

Day 2
Yesterday I did more or less the same as the previous day - just watched. We had to cover a class during 2nd period b/c the regular teacher was absent, but my CT was very lax with the kids - just handed out a worksheet and let them work together.

During our lunch coverage, a fist fight broke out between two students, which was mildly traumatizing for me. Violence scares the crap out of me - I don't know that I could ever jump in and break up something like that. Plus, it was between a boy and a girl, and the boy punched the girl in the face. And I mean punched - I could hear it from where I was standing. But my CT and the security guard who is always there during lunch were great. They reacted quickly, separated the fighters, and took them to the office.

On Day 2, my CT introduced me to the class and said that we would be team teaching for the rest of the semester. She didn't identify me as a "student teacher" just in case the title had a negative connotation for the kids. She also put the students into alphabetical order so I could start to learn their names. I have about 50 kids total, which really isn't too bad. And some names I already knew (the ones that were corrected frequently the day prior).

I handed out index cards to the students and had them write down two things: something they wanted me to know about them, and what their favorite thing has been that they've done in class so far this year. Of course some kids said that they hadn't liked anything yet, but most of them picked good things. One kid wrote that he wanted me to know that he was good looking. Lord!!! I wanted to thank him for writing it down, since I wouldn't have been able to tell otherwise.

This was a great intro for me b/c it allows the class to slowly get used to my presence and gives me the opportunity to help my CT with behavior corrections, if they're doing something and she doesn't see it. Some of the kids want to call me Ms. C, instead of my last name - that's funny to me. It's so weird to be addressed by my last name!

Day 3
Today was another good day. I spend the first two periods observing other classes, which is a requirement for student teaching but is something I would probably want to do anyway. I saw my last period class in their first period, which is science. And then I saw a combined group in Spanish during second period. The Spanish teacher I observed is very young, and he told me that it would be a great class to see for behavior. I totally stereotyped and was afraid the kids would be OOC for him, but he was great. He spoke very authoritatively and was completely able to control the students.

Our first class was very well-behaved today. My CT gave them an activity where they were working independently, and they just got right too it. That was encouraging for me to see. The second class of course was not so focused, but they were okay. The more I watch, the more ideas I get about what I can do with them. I just worry that the curriculum will restrict me too much. So we'll see!

Overall, I'm pleased with my placement so far. Everyone I've met has been wonderful and has offered to help in any way they can. They're so excited to have student teachers (there are two Art student teachers from my university as well). This just reinforces to me how crappy our student teacher "placer" is at my school - she could have easily been placing student teachers here every semester and they would be thrilled to have them. The science teacher I observed this morning told me she has actually asked for them in the past, but has never had one.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back! I figured that was where you must be.

DH says fist fights at the school where he works are so the norm that he's now sick of them.

jellybean said...

it sounds like things are going well!! the fist fight thing would have sent me over the edge! i don't handle stuff like that well either.
i was at a bar once and a fight broke out and i had to fly out of my chair right as the bigger guy shoved the smaller guy right in to my table. like right on top of it!
glad there were others there to help!
things will start to feel routine soon enough!
keep us posted!

Andi said...

It seems like you have a good CT. That can make all of the difference.

I wouldn't worry too much about their curriculum being too rigid. You're more of a "guest" in their classroom, so it's better if you conform a bit (trust me as a former teacher, your CT is giving up alot of her control). Then when you have your own classroom, you can take the things you liked and change those that you didn't to fit your personality.

Best wishes on a great experience!

ztateach said...

WOW!!! HS and ES are soooo different! My ST doesn't start until February 2nd. It's kind of fun reading what you have to say from that stand point. It's been so long since I have been in your shoes. Just remember, DO NOT BE THEIR FRIENDS!! That is the ultimate student teaching rule!! You'll be great! You always are! XOXO

Vegas Princess said...

It sounds like you are off to a great start! Ans a solid beginning will give you a good handle on your CT and the kids, so you are well on your way. I look forward to hearing more about this adventure. :)

I abhor violence but would have reacted in a different way, jumping right in there to break it up. I can not stand how uppity some teenagers act and would relish putting them in their place. Which is why I don't work with them :)

Steelers Wine Girl said...

Shades - Thanks! I hope my school isn't like your DH's, with regular recurrences since last week, thank heavens!

jellybean - I wasn't really helpful for the fight...maybe next time...but probably not! LOL

Andi - Thanks for the encouragement! I have definitely heard good things about having a good CT, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all remains good.

ZTA - Thanks, friend :) I am definitely not making friends with the kids...fortunately, I don't care too much if they like me, I just hope they learn something!

VP - It's hard to believe it's already into week 2! And you are braver than I am, regarding the fight...I can yell at a kid with the best of them, but when it comes to getting physical, I will run and hide!!