Thursday, August 29, 2013

Professional Development

So the past 4 days I have been at a professional development class. The focus: The Literacy Common Core. Talk about overwhelming! We spent the first few days learning about various strategies for incorporating literature into our lessons Reading Workshop, Word Study, Literature Circles, close reading (of non-fiction texts), and text-dependent questions. It was all really helpful, but also a lot of information! Today we got to spend time with our grade level across the district to come up with an action plan in which all of our standards are addressed in various units. After doing that I feel much more at ease.

All the people I have met in and out of my grade level have all been excited about me starting my career. They are eager to help and give me resources, including a whole box of used books compiled by the librarians. The generosity I have been shown has been more than I expected. Everyone is enthusiastic about working in Danvers, creating a great work environment.

Even though I still have no concrete plan for the first few days of school, I am not alone because I have all of this support around me. Even the experienced teachers have told me not to worry about any of the curriculum yet. The time will come for curriculum, but right now the time is for setting up my classroom and establishing procedures/expectations for how my class will run.

School starts next Wednesday!

Friday, August 23, 2013

My bulletin board (aka 3 hours of my afternoon)

My theme is going to be "Discover the World" so I have my bulletin board there in blue and then a map of the world behind my desk, some globes, and a poster showing the wonderful country of Argentina, where I had the privilege of living for 5 months. I am hoping to choose a country a month to focus on (European and Central American countries in particular) and have the students research facts about that country and maybe even read some literature from/about that country. My room is starting to come together!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Classroom Needs Help

I got to see my classroom today! I am on the 2nd floor across from the other two fifth grade classrooms.  I have no classroom library, so I got to go to the fabulous used book store and thrift shop to stock up! Some of the books I got were Maniac Magee, Number the Stars, and Little House on the Prairie. I also bought bins to organize the books by genre. 5th grade is a year of many great books.

Tomorrow I have an all day new teacher orientation, and then I will be back in my classroom deciding the next steps to take to create a welcoming atmosphere for my 20 students.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why 5th Grade?

When I tell people I am going to be a 5th grade teacher I often get asked why I want to teach that age and not the "cute younger kids." Here is a short list of why I am excited to teach 5th grade:

1) Prerevolutionary War history (Boston Tea Party, Boston Massacre, Intolerable Acts...super exciting part of history)
2) The students do not yet have the middle school attitude
3) Kids aim to please
4) They are excited about learning
5) They can work independently and with groups well
6) So many fun projects!
7) Students start to learn their academic strengths around this age, so they develop their own personality and interests
8) I get to prepare them for middle school!
9) It seems that 5th grade is the first year in school that many adults remember, so it's exciting to know that I get to be part of that
10) I get to dive into books like Number the Stars!
Most importantly: I get to be a light to these kids and love them

Here is what I remember from my 5th grade year:
-Marble jar as motivation
-"lots of homework" (which actually was not all that much looking back)
-Electricity jingles: "Eeeelectricity: where does it come from, how does it work and how does it get to me?"
-Building model rockets
-Being teacher of the day (where my desire to become a teacher solidified)
-First research paper on the state of Arizona
-Getting to participate in band and chorus
-Plays about the Irish potato famine
...and many others

Needless to say, I am excited to be a part of students' learning experiences and memory making :-)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Never underestimate the power of prayer...or connections

At the beginning of July, a month after graduating college, I was called down to Danvers, MA for an interview for a 5th grade position. It was scheduled for the same day I was supposed to lead a biking trip in the Carabassett Valley in Maine, but both the director of camp and the trip coordinator said I couldn't turn down an interview. They would find someone else to lead the biking trip. So, I made the 3 hour trek from Maine to Massachusetts on a Monday. Not knowing what to expect, I just prayed that my 4 years of teacher preparation at Gordon would pay off. Some campers even started praying for my interviews to go well, which was powerful.

I arrived and was brought to a room where I was greeted by not one but by 5 women interviewers: 2 fifth grade teachers, the principal, the librarian who happened to be one of my adjunct professors at Gordon for Children's Lit, and a fifth grade parent. "Great!" I thought, "There is no way that these five women are going to think I'm even old enough to teach (especially the fifth grade parent)."The interview lasted 15 minutes and went well, but as a recent grad I didn't expect to get a call back. I was wrong! Less than an hour after leaving, I got a call back to come for a second interview two days later.

Through the grace and flexibility of the leadership team at camp, they gave me permission to miss yet another day of camp to interview. After another 3 hour trek: the second interview (with the principal, superintendent, and assistant superintendent) lasted less than 10 minutes leaving me wondering whether that was a good or bad thing. I prayed yet again because this school seemed like a great fit and fifth grade excited me! As I was stopping for an ice cream cone on my drive home, I got a call from the principal offering me the position! She was as excited as I was, which was really cool to see. My hard work at Gordon had paid off (and Gordon's reputation/rigor proved helpful). I am thankful to all my professors, family, and friends for their support and encouragement in helping me follow my dream of becoming a teacher.

I am excited to start this new chapter in my life. This blog is a way for me to process and share everything I learn during my first year of teaching/real life: personal, professional, and emotional. I expect this year to be a year of great challenge but of great reward.