Anti-Fail Friday

Vlog post again this week.  I called this post anti-fail because my Block D was supposed to blow up in my face but awesomely enough it did not.  It didn’t go well, but it also wasn’t as disastrous as it could’ve been.  Enjoy, or something…

Speak Up

We had a day long PD on Tuesday of this week during which the entire teaching staff split up into five different committees in order to begin reforming our school. Our options were Positive Behavior Intervention Support/ELITE, PSSA Prep, Environment, Student Leadership, and Cultural Awareness. I opted for the PBIS/ELITE team. Our task was to create an incentive program th at the whole school (6-12) would actually buy into. It would be based on the ELITE model, which stands for Expectations, Location, Interaction, Task, and Expression.  The generic poster is below.  There are also area specific ELITE rule posters for the classroom, hallway, bathroom, and cafeteria which just have the ELITE down the left and rules for the specific area next to them.  Essentially, we decided to implement a points system.  I was uber vocal during the meeting and the vlog below talks about the perks of being vocal.

Bonding and Bragging Rights

Week of 1.17-20.12

This week ended with a 2-hour delay which resulted in some quality bonding with my kids. I also touch on other teachers’ comments on my CRM and questioning skills. Details in the vlog!

Ups and Downs

This week was a roller coaster of a week.  I was both praised (by coworkers) and criticized by students, told I was loved and hated, and had and lost control of classrooms.

Let’s start with the negatives so we can end on a positive note.

The hate and criticism kind of went hand-in-hand and both came from students.  After telling a student who had repeatedly stood up to mosey around and talk to sit down and shut her mouth, I was told by said student “Oh, so I see you think you’re a real teacher now.”  Much to her ignorance, I had turned in my intern certificate the day before and my (perhaps slightly unprofessional) response was to let out a sarcastic “ha” followed by “yup” and then let the matter go.  A few minutes later, a student blew up on me after being redirected multiple times.

The next day, the student who blew up, the 9th/10th grade principal, and I had a conversation about how to treat adults.  The student’s solution to the problem of being redirected was that he wasn’t going to talk to me and I wasn’t going to talk to him because I’m only a student teacher and that would solve everything.  Thankfully the principal was on my side and we both reminded the student multiple times during the conversation that that’s not the way school works–that I have to talk to him in order to teach him and that he needs to respect all adults.  This whole lack of respect thing has actually frequently occurred with a few select students.  More on that in a minute.

I can usually maintain control of my classroom but my mentor had been out for the second day in a row and my students blatantly refused to do work.  It got to a point where a little more than half of the class was doing whatever they wanted, a quarter of the class was doing their work but also talking, and the final quarter of the class were just sitting there, not being disruptive but also not doing their work.  I decided to work with the 3 students who were sitting quietly but not working because I knew the other 4 were able to complete the work on their own even while talking.

(Now on to the positives.)

Apparently, while I was working with 3 students in a small group setting, one of the higher up teachers in my building came in to get something from my absent mentor’s desk and saw me working.  Upon her return, my mentor told me that this higher up teacher mentioned in front of the principals how well I controlled my class.  This surprised me because on that day I felt like I had absolutely no control.  However, upon reflecting on that day, I realized that I did eventually regain control–it just took about an hour for everyone to get on task and focus and thankfully that was when the higher up swung by.  My mentor also told me that this higher up was considering having other teachers in the building come observe me.

 

Yes. Employed teachers coming to observe me teach.

I was in about as much shock as you probably are reading that.  I still don’t believe it and probably won’t unless it actually happens.

Another plus is that I got to sub for a middle school class.  Our building was short on subs and too many teachers were out so my mentor offered to cover for a block of Spanish.  However, she had some copies to make and wanted to be with our Block C class so she asked me to cover for her cover.  When I went down to pick up the 8th grade Spanish class from lunch, a teacher asked who I was in for.  When I told her Spanish, she wished me good luck, saying that if I survived covering this class that I’d make it, because they were a tough group.  I wasn’t mortified, mainly because they were middle schoolers, and I mean how terrible can 8th graders be?

Turns out I was right.  They weren’t as awful as I was told they’d be.  They wouldn’t be quiet, did absolutely no work, and one kid threw another onto a desk, but the situation was easily diffused.  Our 8th graders thing their tough, but after pulling the kids off of each other and prompting the aggressee to sit down a few times, they chilled out.  (That’s not to say they stopped talking and did their work, because they didn’t, but no one needed written up.)

 

Back to this lack of respect thing.  I like to think I relate fairly well to my kids, probably because I’m closer in age to them than most of their other teachers are, but mainly because I have a similar upbringing.  However, a lot of the time my age works against me.  My kids refuse to follow directions I give them because “She’s only like 20. She’s not an adult” and “You can’t tell me what to do. You’re not a real teacher.”  Or the one that kills me the most “You’re just a student teacher, I don’t have to listen to you.” (No! I am an intern thank you very much! That’s why I can and do tell you what to do.)

So needless to say, I still need to find the balance between relating my students and having them see me as an actual adult authority figure who simultaneously cares about them personally but both wants and expects them to do their work  (and do it to the level I know they’re capable of).

 

Another week down, a few more lessons learned. Progress.

Jumping Right In

As the tagline says, I refuse to let my students be left behind in any aspect of life.  I hope to use this blog to not only reflect on my practice as a preservice teacher but to also show how I attempt to help my students move beyond stereotypes and break the barriers that hold them back from achieving their dreams.

_____

My original plan was to vlog and do a short blog entry each week, but as soon as I left school I realized I forgot my camera so this week will just be a regular ol’ written blog. (I may toss a video up later.) The idea for this is going to be to elaborate on aspects of my teaching that I need to work on as well as list some moments of pride during the week. 

This was the first week back from Christmas break and, surprisingly, it went really well. My kids were ridiculous before break and I expected them to be the same after break from all the Christmas/no school for three weeks excitement, but they were much more subdued. I still dealt with all the normal behavior issues (which are many) but break also brought back a few new bad attitudes (which my mentor and I are working to help our kids overcome).

This was also the first week that I taught every class, all day, every day (except Tuesday). My mentor pointed this out and was proud of me for it (and of herself for allowing me to do it) but I still feel like I could have done more. Below are areas that I feel I need to work on after this week

Planning

  • Yes, I taught every class this week, but I didn’t plan any of it. True, my mentor didn’t tell me before break to plan for this week (primarily because she didn’t know I would be teaching all this week) but obviously I need to work on planning lessons for a whole week.

Decision Making

  • Now I know this privilege comes with time, and my mentor is ok with me making decisions on my own, but I still feel a strong need to consult with her before deciding to do something. The example for this week revolves around on the fly decisions. I wasn’t sure whether our kids should do certain work alone or in pairs and how much I should scaffold the lesson. It was different for each class (because each class has different kids, obviously), but while my kids were reading to themselves, I often went to consult with my mentor and ask how I should approach the next section.

Prep

  • Although I wasn’t told to plan the week, I was told on Tuesday that we’d be starting a new book Wednesday. I read it, but I didn’t make any notes or come up with any questions or really do anything other than read it. Thankfully, when my mentor realized I didn’t have a focus for the gist, she swooped in and handed me a copy of the book in which she put post-it notes in with discussion questions.

Ok, so all that up above may sound a bit depressing, but some really awesome things also happened this week, mainly with two specific students (who, of course, shall not be named, but referred to by letter).

K

  • K plays basketball and, because of that, keeps his grades up for the most part.  They had an away game Wednesday so he had to wear a tie.  He didn’t like the way it looked, so he asked me to retie it for him.  This was a nice little bonding moment.

R

  • R just recently rejoined our class this week.  He had been suspended and in JD for a few months for fighting.  My mentor was heartbroken to see him leave because he truely is a bright boy who has gotten caught up in some bad situations.  He is scheduled for 9th grade English, but should be taking 10th grade classes.  Because of this, he naturally gets frustrated moving at the pace of the rest of the class.  Today (Friday), I asked if he would like to move at his own pace and do some other work so he wasn’t bored.  He perked up at this offer, began calling me over to ask questions, and was really getting into completing his work.  We’re quite glad he’s gotten another chance.

So there you have it.  A (probably too long) entry about my first week back after Christmas break.  Until next week…