Wake Up it’s Wednesday!!

When I got up on Wednesday morning I was a bit nervous to what I was walking into. As we approached the school I was pleasantly surprised with how nice the school looked. It looked new and looked like it was in great condition, better than the schools I attended as a younger student. As we were waiting in the main office, we found out we were not going to be teaching elementary students as we thought we were. Instead, I had a sixth grade classroom which came as a shock to me as I expected to be placed within the elementary level. However, I did not let this bring me down, but better look at it as an experience to be with a different age group and see how I like it. I was happy to meet my teacher, who I actually have a lot in common with. As I got settled in and students started coming in, the “morning madness” began. It was so chaotic with students coming in and going out and yelling and noises and distractions, etc. Ms. Ludgren, my cooperating teacher, put their daily journal on the board and that seemed to get them to sit down and be quiet and do their work. I was shocked when the morning announcements and Pledge of Allegiance was going on, none of them were listening or stood up to do the pledge, they ignored it completely. I think that if my teacher had them be quiet and do the Pledge of Allegiance it could help them be controlled and help maintain order in this “morning madness” that seemed to be happening. Through all this madness I was experiencing I didn’t know how to help or how the students would react if I tried to calm them down; I was a little nervous and intimidated. Then, I found out we were going on a field trip that day and we would be the following day too. At first I was excited and thought that was cool. However, as I look back, I felt like I couldn’t form any relationships with the students as a I couldn’t really interact with them during the field trip. Also, I missed out on a chance to see how Ms. Ludgren’s class normally runs. In saying that, it made me eager to work with her the next week and made my goal of this seminar to help and change the lives of these students for the better. I hope to make a lasting impression on them and truly form good bonds with the students.

Although in the beginning I may have been disappointed I was not with elementary level, I think it is for the best. Originally, I was majoring in Secondary Education and then switched over to Elementary Education. I always thought I wanted to work with older kids, however even after one day working with a 6th grade class, I realized I think I belong in a younger class as I do not deal with students who do not like me very well. For example, my class is working on game boards based on various folk tale stories. I was going around to the different groups to help them out. One group in particular, was doing a good job and I was really guiding them to get their project done. However, one of the girls started talking about me when I walked away and I don’t deal well with people who do not like me. It made me feel insecure and made me try harder for her to like me. I then realized, it is not whether the students like me or not, but whether I provide them with good educational skills to allow them to succeed. Even though I realized I can’t think about what the students think of me, I still am glad a made the switch in my major to Elementary Education as the younger students have a stronger love for school, learning, and their teachers.

When we got to the large group discussion, it was awesome to hear everyone’s different experiences and thoughts after just a few hours in their pre-service schools. Everyone had different thoughts and perspectives after their first day and it was really cool to see that. Some were truly affected by how horrible some of the students’ home lives were, while others were pleasantly shocked by how well their students obeyed the rules. In this large urban setting, we are going to experience a lot of different levels of students. I hope to help the lower level students and push the higher level students so they can all benefit from me being in the classroom. I look forward to this seminar and hope to fulfill my goal in building relationships with my students as well as helping them to succeed in the future.

Blog #2: Following in the Footsteps of Another Marcy

Today was my first day in an urban classroom and was truly an awesome experience.  I had the opportunity to help with a 5th grade class at Grover Washington Middle School.  I was really nervous when I entered the classroom and did not know what to expect.  When I introduced myself to Mrs. Menale, and we realized that both of our first names were Marcy, I was reassured that teaching is the career for me and I was in the right place.  Throughout the time I spent today with Mrs. Menale, I couldn’t help but picture myself following in the footsteps of this older Marcy.  Although simple, and somewhat silly, this coincidence helped me to immediately push my nerves aside and focus on getting as much out of this experience as I can.  This connection reminded me of all of the tips we were given in class the night before.  I realized that this small connection I could make to Mrs. Menale made me more open to seeing things through her perspective and I needed to look for connections with other teachers and students as well.  I tried my best to be open minded, understanding and avoid any stereotypes when I met new people today.    

I spent my day with three different teachers that this class meets with daily.  Being able to compare the different styles of these teachers enriched my learning and helped me to see what works and what doesn’t in an urban class.  Throughout the day, the students acted disruptively, disrespectfully and were very easily distracted.  I enjoyed the challenge of trying to keep them on task and engaged in their school work. 

One thing I noticed that could’ve contributed to this inappropriate behavior was the arrangement of desks.  In every class, the students sat with their closest friends in clusters of 2-3 desks.  I feel that alternative seating assignments could help keep the students from being distracted by their neighbors.  Getting to sit next to your friends should be a privilege and I definitely do not think that the students have earned this privilege. 

The first class of the day was math.  I felt that Mrs. Menale’s biggest strength was her step by step instructions in all of the class activities.  Although some students still did not listen, this teaching strategy helped students to know exactly what they needed to be doing at all times.  This was a good use of time and helped keep the class structured.  She had the schedule for their class written on the board and made sure to stay on task.  In a class that seemed out of control, having this organization helped things go as smoothly as possible.

After math, the students went to their reading/social studies class.  The students love their reading teacher and it seemed like they have a really strong relationship with her.  She respects them but also expects a lot from them.  These expectations motivated some of the students to do their best for her and respect her.  I liked seeing the love that they have for their teacher and the effect that this love has on the classroom.  Although she was strict, this toughness was what the students needed and they responded to this style with good behavior.  However, there will always be students who misbehave and she made sure to punish this behavior.  Rather than stopping her class to reprimand the difficult students, she waited until class was over to talk with them and take away some of their time for lunch.  I like that she didn’t let this poor behavior disrupt her class even more by taking the time to punish them during instructional time.  I feel that this form of negative punishment was a good solution to the problem because she took the time to explain their mistakes and what they should have done differently before she gave them this punishment.  This teacher showed that she will not tolerate their poor behavior in her class and I am anxious to see if they learn from this, or if it is a regular occurrence. 

By the time the students got to science class in the afternoon they seemed bored and exhausted.  Their science teacher combated this problem by using a variety of activities.  The students finished individual projects, did a vocabulary worksheet, played a vocabulary game and watched a video during this class.  The class seemed to really enjoy this variety of activities and were constantly occupied.  Transitions between activities could present a problem for this method but she kept this time period organized.  She used students as volunteers to help set up the activities and clearly explained directions so that these transitions would go smoothly.  She uses positive reinforcement frequently in her class and the students are motivated by these simple rewards.  They seemed the most excited about learning in this class and I feel that she does a great job at keeping them engaged and interested. 

I appreciated that even though all three teachers seemed stressed and overwhelmed, they were able to laugh at times.  Kids can be stressful but they also can bring so much joy to life.  I am very passionate about working with children and hope to never lose this passion.  Seeing the teachers laugh with their students today made me really excited to be a teacher.  I am looking forward to building relationships with my students for the two weeks that I will be in Philadelphia, but even more so to having a class of my own to laugh with someday.      

The most unexpected thing that happened to me today was when Mrs. Menale removed a cap gun from the possession of one of the 5th graders.  Although this plastic toy gun didn’t have any caps in it, this was still taken very seriously.  It was really scary to me that a child would do this and made me upset.  It is so important that children feel safe in their classrooms and focused on learning.  For the other students who saw this gun, that is terrifying and distracting from the curriculum. 

During the group discussion today, the comment about a veteran teacher who changed her teaching every year really impacted me.  Even though I only have one year of college completed I feel like I am already learning so much about how to be an effective teacher.  Today showed me that a variety of teaching styles can be effective and I just need to find what style works best for me and for me students.  It is important to learn from mistakes and to observe the positives and the negatives in your own teaching. 

After only one day of being in an urban school I already feel that this has impacted me.  The biggest lessons that I took away from today are the importance of combining and adapting my teaching styles, preparing as best as I can for the unexpected and how crucial and difficult having control of your classroom can be.  I appreciate this opportunity so much and really loved every second of being in the classroom.  I am learning a lot and this has made me more excited than I already was to be a teacher!  I want to do everything I can these next two weeks to develop as a future teacher.  Soon enough, I will be the Marcy who stands at the front of the room rather than the Marcy observing from a side table and when that time comes I want to be as effective of a teacher as possible.

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