Monthly Archives: April 2010

Student Teaching Week 6

This week was…interesting. I gave the first test that I’ve written so far. (The past few final assessments have been papers/projects.) I was discouraged by the lack of studying that they did and was especially disappointed by the fact that they were not finished with the test by the end of the period. I suppose that was just a mistake on my part in making it to long, but I feel that it was handled well enough when I told them that they could have time the next day to work on the essay portion alone. Giving this test was one of the first times thus far that I’ve really seen how accommodations work in the classroom. For the most part, the students with 504 plans are allowed 50% more time for their tests, which was easily arranged. However, this week I also saw how much some students struggle with things that I take for granted. For example, one student completely failed a portion of the test. He told me that he did not even remember taking it. I sat down with him after school and actually read the questions to him. I wasn’t giving hints, or coaching him in the right direction even. But somehow, in my reading the questions to him and modeling effective thinking strategies outloud, he was able to earn a B on the test. I was really proud of him, and he told me two things that I don’t think I’ll forget any time soon. First of all, he said that a teacher had never taken the time to do that for him. Maybe he’s never asked, maybe he’s never struggled that much…I don’t know. (But, his 504 does allow for it, so I wasn’t breaking any rules…) Secondly, he said that his grade on this test has given him the confidence he needs to finish the year well. That interaction was what got me through a week of struggling with discipline problems and unexpected issues.

Another triumph of the week was in my world history classes on the 20th. As we continue through the Ancient Rome unit, I took one day to talk about gladiators, and the students really enjoyed it (a lecture, at that!) One student said “Miss Jensen, this is the best history class I’ve ever had. Seriously.”

This week was slightly challenging in that we had a half day (periods 1-4 followed by an assembly) and took another day to go see the school play. Despite the gladiator day, it just wasn’t enough to keep them focused for the rest of a very unusual week….

In reflecting on the readings this week from The First Days of School, I feel like I actually struggle with this in that I have no problem smiling and saying “please” and “thank you,” but I have allowed certain issues with classroom management to persist to the point that saying “please” and “thank you” simply isn’t cutting it. (Not like I thought it would, but it’s certainly an important part!) As I continue to figure out an effective way to handle behavior issues in the classroom, it will be important to remember this chapter.


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Instructional Strategies Paper

This work attests to my proficiency in understanding a variety of teaching models and how each can be used in a diverse classroom. Beacause each student learns differently it is necessary to understand various models in order to adapt my teaching strategies and style in order to foster student academic achievement and well-being.

Principle Instruction paper

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Student Teaching Week 5

The past week warrants daily reflections; as a brief overview, I had to: confront some students about issues with plagiarism and copying on an essay, deal with some very blatant disrespect from a student, give several students detentions, AND sub for a very weird day where nearly half of the school was gone on a field trip. Also, as the beginning of this week was the Monday after spring break, we were “welcomed” back with the news that over the break some students had broken into the school and done some serious vandalism. The damage was not only extensive to some of the physical property, but it was very personal and targeted specific members of the faculty.

On Monday (the plagiarism/cheating confrontation day) I wrote: Well, my reputation as the nice teacher has been soiled…and it’s not good. I never thought that students would react so dramatically to being told that they need to redo an assignment because they cheated/plagiarized! I chose to print the web pages where I found exact sentences on the internet, and one girl’s comment was “Oh, how nice, you printed the website,” followed by “I never went to this webpage.” So all I said was that the sentences were exactly the same. She didn’t say anything after that…

I’m scared for the possible retaliation…so far things have been so good. But WHY am I feeling so bad? They are the ones that didn’t do the assignment right, aren’t they? They are the ones that had the opportunity to ask me questions that never did? THEY are the ones who wrote the paper and INSIST that they knew the answers that they had already written…as soon as class started I just go so nervous to the point that I could hardly function..

The rest of the day was better, although still nothing very pleasant!

Moving on to Wednesday, in one class a particular students was being incredibly disrespectful to me. Mrs. Hook wasn’t in the room, which may have made a slight difference. I repeatedly asked him to stop talking after the other “tricks” (location, etc.) failed. He proceeded to tell me that if I gave him a lunch detention he would not come because that was “my time.” Unfortuntely I did not deal with this situation the way I would have liked, and let his blatant disrespect pass, as class was almost over. However, after discussing it with my mentor teacher and the dean, I was told that he needed to serve a detention for his actions. I did confront him later in the day (with the dean standing by.) I guess the thing I had been dreading (giving a detention to someone) wasn’t so bad after all! Again, the rest of the day wasn’t so bad…the students were really chatty today, but it was nothing too terrible.

Thursday, oh Thursday. I essentially bounced from class to class or collected students from the hallway that didn’t seem to have a teacher. There was a field trip that took most of the juniors and seniors, and enough teachers that they were scrambling to find enough coverage. As it turned out, I spent 5 of the 7 periods that day with mostly the same freshmen, teaching my world history class and subbing for 9th grade health and English. (The other 2 periods I just had any students in the hallway come hang out in my classroom…nothing fancy!) From my notes on Thursday’s health class:

“I did it. I finally brought kids into the hallway to talk to them. While subbing for Mr. Menache’s class, I had “a student” come into the hallway because he was making really inappropriate comments really loudly to the class (especially about people being gay.) I just told him that it was not right and that while I didn’t want to give him a detention (especially for someone else’s class) but I would if he kept talking. For the rest of THAT class, he was fine.

For the next class (my normal World History) I had to bring another student into the hallway to talk to him about his inappropriate and excessive comments. As “luck” would have it, the principal happened to be coming to check in on my class at that point, which meant he listened in on our little chat. I think it helped with the noise level for the remainder of the class, until…

SUBBING for English (almost all the same kids as the last 2 periods). To keep a long story short, as they were watching a movie, I had to move several students to prevent them from talking, gave one student a detention for excessive talking (same one I’d confronted not but 30 minutes earlier) and caught one student touching another inappropriately. I filled out “pink slips” or referrals for each of those situations, which turned out to be very helpful when the students did not appear for their detentions.

Needless to say, I was really thankful for Friday, and things went much better that day. Overall, this week was a week of learning that my “threats” need to have some meaning behind them. I can’t spend all my time worrying about whether or not the students will like me. (In fact, I lost “teacher of the week award” according to one student…!) I know that in the weeks to come this will be an important factor for me in the way that I handle a classroom. Good learning experiences this week…although I can’t say I appreciated them all at the time, I’ve made it through all the better.

UPDATE: the students responsible for the vandalism confessed on Friday and were expelled from the school. This week has been a good opportunity for me to see, close-up, how administration deals with such issues. Being at a small school allows me to experience things or know more first-hand than a larger school…

In reflecting on being “invitational and disinvitational” I sometimes think that this is a great topic but at times it can be a challenge for me. What I mean by this is the fact that, as I read through the levels of invitational education, I would place myself in the “Unintentionally inviting” category. Through self-reflections and talking with my mentor teacher, this seems to fit my interactions with the students. In The First Days of School, Wong and Wong state that these teachers “do not have a consistent philosophy of education” yet they are “generally well liked and effective”[1] This is generally consistent with how I have been feeling so far this year; being a “people-pleaser,” I’m generally content with the idea that students like me. In fact, it has been a real confidence booster for me as I learn that more and more students do, in fact, think I’m a good teacher. However, it’s also good to be aware that, as an “Unintentional” inviter, it can hide “the fact that [my] students may not be learning to their fullest potential”[2] Of course, this is never my hope for the classroom, so I will be more aware of the balance between being liked for my personality while maintaining high expectations for my students. I suppose this will also improve over time as I continue thinking about my philosophy of education and classroom management plan.

[1] Wong, H. K., and Wong, R. The First Days of School (Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications, 2004) 67

[2] 67

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Student Teaching Week 4

(Wrote this reflection BEFORE the break, failed to post it!)

This week was not so bad…

I took over the World History class this week in addition to the U.S.  history class. My biggest challenge of the week (for both classes) seems to be that I tend to rush through explanations, and then I have to repeat them. Repeating directions isn’t so bad, but I think I confuse them if I give too many directions! Another real struggle that I will need to be working on diligently is discipline and following through with consequences. In one class, I allowed some students to sit wherever they wanted to while working on a worksheet. They were told that if they did not stop talking, I would have them move back to their seats. They continued to talk (not about our assignment) and I sent them back to their seats. However, they continued to talk a bit, and I should have extended the consequences.

Overall I’m beginning to feel slightly more confident with me lectures and class sessions, but I find myself intimidated by some of the classes (i.e. the larger 11th grade class and my 6th period World History.) It has nothing to do with the discipline issues as much as I just don’t feel a “connection” to the juniors in that larger class. I am going to try to vary the activities that I give them in order to see if it helps with their attitudes in class.

It was obvious to me from the beginning of my internship that the students in my classes were “well-trained.” They were very familiar (and comfortable) with the classroom procedures—it seemed so automatic that I have definitely taken that for granted. However, as I took over the classes, it became apparent that the seemingly flawless plan was actually held together by accountability on the teacher’s part. This plan was established at the beginning of the school year; this meant that students knew what to expect, and the teacher knew what to expect out of the students. There was a plan in place that I did not know enough about, and I’m beginning to see the importance of maintaining what was begun at the start of the year. Wong and Wong write that a teacher’s “success during the school year will be determined by what [they] do on the first days of school.”[1] At first, I interpreted this to mean that in September, the teacher had the great responsibility of creating an environment to last the entire year. While this is certainly true, it is also true that in my first moments in the classroom I was setting the tone for my time as teacher, and I regretfully feel that I could have done a better job at establishing and maintaining that “good control.”

[1] Wong, H. K., and Wong, R. The First Days of School (Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications, 2004) 4.

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