Saturday, May 2, 2009

Week 15: A Reflection

Having the opportunity to be emerged in an elementary school classroom was great. This past semester taught me a lot about working at an elementary school, and it is still something I'd really like to do. Being in a music classroom was different and I think it was basically what I expected. It was a good experience, but I don't think I want to teach music. I'd much rather teach at a grade level (kindergarten through 3rd really).
Through this experience of interning in this elementary school, I've learned a lot. I was given a chance to see the classroom first hand and practice classroom management. I was able to see problems arise between the students and teachers and how those situations were handled. A was able to help with putting on a big production- the annual talent show. I directly assisted Ms. Vining in creating props and helping on stage the night of the show. There is a lot of work involved!
I figured out that I'd like to teach a certain grade level. I was able to interact with every grade level and saw which ones I had the best experience with (K-3rd). I gained critical classroom management skills and was given great advice from my mentor teacher about teaching.
Overall, I feel like it was a very positive experience, and it makes me very excited about my future classroom. I can't wait to get started teaching, but first- certification!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Week 13: Room for Improvement

Being in the classroom as a volunteer, it is easier to see the context of the whole organization. A reoccurring problem within our classroom I think would come from not being able to be prepared as well / as organized as could be. It's safe to say that preparation goes along way in any situation. It is constantly busy at our school, which makes it difficult to prepare weeks in advance for lessons. Lessons are often prepared the same day. It is a system well-adapted to, but I think it would help stress and energy levels immensely if more time was put into preparation. Because the school year is so busy, it seems more reasonable to prepare for each lesson during the summer, sorting out weeks and making sure materials are available. Being so deep into the school year, it isn't practical to expect out-of-class time to be spent on preparing, because most or all of this time is already occupied with other obligations.

*The problem is not at all serious, it is just one I think if tended to, could aid in stress relief and smoother days in the classroom. My mentor teacher is a great teacher, I was just told to focus on something that may help her. It seems impossible to be over-prepared for something, especially lessons.*

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Week 12: Interview

What is the main challenges faced as a teacher?
Balancing everything. Balancing the actual teaching with having a poor budget, with implementing the polices of teaching, with finding time to enjoy it. Implementing all of these into the classroom is hard.

How do they deal with deadline stress, difficult people, and internal politics?
Concentrating on things that I like, and remembering to dwell on those. It’s hard, but the big thing is your attitude. Have a positive attitude makes everything better. That, and not taking things personally.

What do they feel can be done to make work go smoother?
Being extra prepared. Have all materials ready to go, being more organized. Planning ahead, with paperwork especially.

How do they separate the personal from the professional?
Putting on my teacher face when I’m in the classroom. It’s like acting. You can’t bring your personal life into work.

Do they enjoy working on group projects?
In school, they do have group projects as teachers. For instance, the school yearbook on an elementary level is made by a few teachers or the PTA. Johnson’s yearbook was run by Aimee Vining, and it was difficult to get help from the other teachers on the yearbook staff. They are all busy, so being on the staff is quite challenging. She would prefer the extra time for her own use, but sees the value in the yearbook creation.

What is their ideal work environment?
Respectable, nice kids and staff, great resources, and enough funding.

How do their personalities help or hinder their communications with others or their conflict resolution approaches?
If you’re a grumpy person, no one will want to work with you. I have a grumpy teacher at this school that we need to work with, and being grumpy makes not want to talk to them. No one wants to come into a grumpy environment at work- it makes work awful. Everyone who helps me, I want to make sure they see that I appreciate their help. It makes things easier when you have a good attitude and when you don’t let your grumpiness come into work. Also, make the school secretary your best friend.

How has their education and experience prepared them for their current job?
I learned basic skill in college; I learned how to play the instrument and able to do basic musical things needed. Honestly, I didn’t learn anything about teaching until I was in the classroom doing it. They can’t teach you how to connect with students in college. Learning how to connect to student’s individual needs is the most important. I learned the skills I needed to know to be a professional in my field, but as for on the job skills, no. The Mesa School District helps implement skills, hands on, and then you can take in right into your classroom. Orff classes (by Carl Orff) and the Kodaly method are great.

After whom do they model their work behavior? Or who do they most respect?
I model my behavior after my college supervisor, my college saxophone teacher, and my school principal here at Johnson. I use the techniques taught by those two professors in school, and my classroom management skills are inspired by my principal. As a teacher, best thing you show know how to do is beg, borrow, and steal. Ideas from colleges are usually great, and everyone is always eager to help.

Have they reached out to mentors and has the mentorship system worked for them?
All the time. I’m always asking for help or advice. My music supervisors are great for that. My first year of teaching, I was given a mentor teacher who gave me so many ideas. You can’t do this job alone. You won’t succeed without the help of others.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Week 11: Shadowing

Shadowing a teacher is a great way to take advantage of the concept of teaching. It's a great way to see what teaching may be like. It is a tough job, because there are so many things to remember. What you say, how you say it, and when you say it greatly effects your success in teaching, especially on the elementary school level in my opinion. By getting comfortable with this concept, and becoming aware of your words and when you use them, you can focus more on individual students.
I have been shadowing Aimee Vining, the music teacher. She has every class in school come to see her at least once a week for 20-40 minutes. She does a good job of remembering names, although sometimes it's easy to get siblings mixed up. She is in her third year of teaching, and it seems like she knows the ropes pretty well. She has told me that class management is one of the first things a new teacher should practice and perfect. Class management has to do with different disciplines, and strategies for gain control of your classroom so that the students are paying attention, listening, and engaging in the lesson. It is one area I know I need to improve, personally. I am a type of person who would love to just hang out with the kids, joke around, etc., but this doesn't allow for a successful teacher. I've found that there is a time for everything- joking around, being serious. Even the best teachers I have had are all very fun to be around, but I remember learning the most from them as well. Finding that balance is key, and enforcing classroom discipline without interrupting your lesson is the goal teachers set for themselves, and I see this everyday in Aimee's classroom.
Because of the different classes Aimee sees each day, and the different grade levels means different lessons for each of them, my mentor teacher has developed an organized system to help her sort through her daily lessons. She keeps bins (One for each grade level, K-6) on a shelf in her room. Each week, she places the lessons for each grade in their respectable bin. She also keeps a copy of her schedule of classes next to the bin, because it is nearly impossible to memorize or keep straight. It seems things are constantly changing, and this system has been a great way to keep up with everything. Before each class, she re-reads over the lesson she is intending to teach, and prepares for it.
In addition to her classes and lessons, she is the head of the Yearbook, teaches private lessons, is an honor band director, and is putting on the school talent show in a couple of weeks. A lot for one teacher, if you ask me! It has been really nice to be here this year with her. She is constantly telling me how glad she is to have my help, and I'm really happy I can. It seems that we came into each others lives at the right moment. I am definitely excited for the talent show. We've been making props during her prep hours these past 2 weeks. It should be very fun!
This past week I started leading the lessons. Aimee taught me how to write out lesson plans according to the Mesa Public School District, and I have written out a few for different grades. I taught a lesson in each of the Kindergarten classes, and it was pretty exciting. It makes me very nervous to think of the students all listening and watching me. I just want to make sure I'm saying the right things, and not forgetting any important points or add-ins. Ms. Vining said I did really well, and gave me some tips or options to implement the next time, and I did. I think I will be teaching more of the lessons I wrote out this coming week. I am excited again, and I feel like I have some footing this time. :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Week 9

Primary phone: (480) 239-7763
Primary Address: 3719 E. Inverness Ave Unit 49
Mesa, AZ 85206

Objective: To work as an Elementary or Preschool Teacher in the state of Arizona.

Education: Arizona State University
University College
Early Childhood Education, Music
Expected date of graduation: May 2009
Current GPA: 3.51

McClintock High School
High School Diploma August 2000- May 2004

Experience: Big Surf Water park Lifeguard II
Full time for the summer- June 2002 to October 2002
Reference: Emily Laphner (480) 423-9787
- CPR licensed
- Explained safety guidelines to kids
- Looked after children and adults around pools
- Looked after younger children in the “kiddy pool”

Volunteer After School Teacher
Fall 2004 through Spring 2005
Curry Elementary School, Two to three days a week
Reference: Mrs. Fuch (480) 967-8336
- Worked in Mrs. Fuch’s 4th grade classroom
- Worked with students one-on-one with various problems and subjects
- Read aloud to the class on Tuesdays

America Reads/ America Counts (ASU)
Spring 2005 Three days a week
Located at the Salvation Army, South Mountain
- Worked with to Second grade boys with homework and anything else they needed assistance with
- Activities included: Planning daily lessons Reading with them daily Playing games and group activities Planned 2 group lessons for everyone

America Reads/ America Counts (ASU)
Spring 2007, Three days a week
Located at Hererra Elementary in Phoenix
Reference: Darcy Schroeder (602) 740-8058
- Worked with to 5th grade boys in the area of math
- ASU tutors worked with students during class time
- Activities included: Planning daily lessons Daily division problems
Planned 2 group lessons for the class

Classroom Volunteer
January 2007- December 2007
At Curry Elementary in Spring and
Kyrene Del Norte Elementary in the Fall
Mrs. Alejandro’s Kindergarten classroom at Curry
Mrs. Ronak’s Head Start Preschool classroom at KDN
Reference: Mrs. Alejandro (480) 967-8336
Mrs. Ronak (480) 783-3300
- Worked with Kindergarteners one-on-one in areas of spelling, reading, and math
- Assisted with anything needed Sorting papers
- Making copies Posting projects on the walls
- Helping prepared activities Making mock lesson plans

Other collegiate Activities:
The Arizona State University Sun Devil Marching Band (4 yrs)
The Arizona State University Concert Band (4 yrs)
The Arizona State University Basketball Pep Bands (3 yrs)
Kappa Kappa Psi, National Honorary Band Fraternity (5 yrs)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Week 7

Right now I am interning in a music classroom, which basically means I am observing and helping my mentor teacher with tasks around her classroom. I can't see myself as an intern in the future, I'd much rather be the teacher. I'm not so sure about teaching music, but teaching a general classroom would be something I'd like to do. Right now, I get to see things behind the scenes, and how the classroom looks from the teacher's perspective. This is a great opportunity to see the classroom and interact with it, without having too much responsibility so you may really pay attention to the tasks at hand.
The thing I don't like about this internship is the responsibility factor. My teacher is a person who likes to handle everything herself. So, even when she does ask me to do something, she'll come along and ends up taking the task away from me and doing it herself. I promise it's not me. I've had plenty of experience helping teachers in the classroom, making visual aides, grading papers, organizing rooms, etc. She doesn't like anyone doing things for her, because I suppose she sees things in a certain way of how they should be done. It's pretty frustrating. She's said it herself, that she's a "Control freak", I just don't think she realizes how much of one she is. I'm a very creative person, and I've had a lot of experience in many areas of education. She knows this, I've told her and I remind her when she tells me about something she needs to get done. She complains to me all the time, about how busy she is and how many things she needs to do. It's only because she doesn't delegate, or let anyone help her.
The skills I am learning are mostly in the area of classroom management. One of my biggest fears is that I'll let the class walk all over me, that they won't listen to me. Having a firm hand in school is important, finding a balance in when you should be relaxed and when you need to get things under control is the key.
As of right now, I believe working in an educational setting would be ideal for me.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It all makes sense now

Good afternoon!
It's a nice feeling when the fruit of your labors begin to pay off. School teaches you what you want to learn, and finding and using these wanted concepts in the real world can be refreshing. It makes school feel worthwhile. First, I'll talk about three concepts / theories from my Educational background, then one theory from Music.
One important theory to me comes from the basic interaction a teacher (or anyone really) has with a child. How you talk to children is a big part of how they view you and how then, they respond to you. A teacher (or any adult) should show the same respect to children when speaking to them as they would show to anyone else. Children can tell when they're being looked down upon. Being close to eye-level with a person when you're talking with them is also a big deal. Children are generally shorter than adults, so kneeling when you're speaking with them is a good thing to do. It also ensures that you have the child's full attention, and they are more likely to take what you are saying more seriously, remember it better, etc. These two concepts mentioned are always used with any child I may talk with. Usually, when I do kneel down and don't talk down, I get a great response from the child. They end up telling me a story or expanding on what we were talking about.
I found that "wait time" is also an important concept to know and practice. A lot of the time, when the teacher asks a question, and hands are raised, the called-on student can say the answer he / she was thinking of in no time. But, when the student is unsure, and does not answer right away, I've found waiting is an important thing to do. The silence and waiting can be pretty awkward, as it is easy to want to call on one of the other students with anxious looks and raised hands. But, giving that first student a little extra time is usually all they need to know what they want to say. I've found waiting on these students usually gives you the right answer, too.
When teaching, it's important to make sure your lesson was heard. In music, asking the class to "be your echo" is a great way to hear if they're ready to go on with the lesson. When we learn new songs, we first sing them, then start by singing one line at a time, the class echoing after each line. The song is memorized in no time, and the class is ready to learn the dance or instrumentation along with it. Teacher- "Be my echo, please.", Class- "Be my echo, please." Going into
solf├Ęge review next is a daily lesson. Teacher- "Sol, Sol, Mi, Mi", then the class, "Sol, Sol, Mi, Mi" singing and echoing in the correct pitches.
I hope you've enjoyed this post, and please let me know what you think. I'll post a cute story soon.