Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Time Machine

I wish I had a time machine! Then, I would be able to go back in time, to the beginning of the year, using the knowledge I have now, to make some changes. I would have started practicing for the statewide test sooner, introduced more math games to be used as review games now, and spent more time establishing and maintaining classroom rules and routines. I've been talking more and more with my mentor, who has great ideas! It was hard to know what to ask and what to figure out on my own earlier in the year. In hindsight, I would have talked to her more sooner. Some of the things she and I talk about, I did not even know that I had to think about, like how to provide extensions for accelerated learners, what to do when a student is extremely far behind or disruptive, what happens if the class won't stop talking? These things now are like "duh, why didn't I plan for that?" I also should have challenged my students more, through what I was asking them to produce in writing and in terms of holding them accountable for homework.

All I can do is go on from here and try to make changes as I am able. I guess that is why they say the first year of teaching is the most challenging.

Monday, February 24, 2014

a much needed break

I just had February break. For those of you, like me, who never experienced February break in NJ, it is a second winter break, so that people up here in the cold New England weather don't go crazy in the never ending winter. I was able to travel to sunny, warm California to visit my brother. Luckily I got out before the snow storm that covered New England.

Yeah, I do look like his younger sister, but the truth is: I am 4 years older. I was mistaken for a 17 year old prospective student at least 4 times over the weekend. Andrew and I spent time together in Hollywood, at Santa Monica beach playing frisbee, and at the Getty Museum (shown in the picture above). I also got to see his campus and meet his friends. It was a good few days!

The next stage of my February break journey was to visit Wes in D.C. We were able to go to an NBA bball game, go swing dancing (the picture below is after swing dancing), watch some Olympics, and just spend some time together. It was nice!

Coming back on Saturday was a great decision because it meant that I could sleep all day on Sunday, which was much needed.

Today school started up again in full swing! There is so much to do in the next few weeks! MCAS (state standardized tests) are in 3 weeks, we have the trimester ending in 2 weeks (report cards to do, testing to do, etc), and I have many meetings and opportunities for professional development coming up as well. Outside of school, I have a weekend retreat with my youth group coming up in 2 weeks! Then Wes will be here in 3 weeks (unfortunately just for a very short amount of time)! BRING ON THE CRAZY!!!!!

Please pray for sustained energy and stamina for me, as well as patience. Thank you for following me on this journey!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

This is happening

I'm showing this as a culminating video of a week working on figurative language:

Watch it! You may learn something.

Monday, February 10, 2014

student teachers

Only last year I was student teaching. It seems like a long time ago. About this time last year, I had taken over about half of the teaching in 4th grade. I thought I was overwhelmed then, but I have learned that I can handle more than I thought I could. Although it is very stressful knowing that MCAS are a month away, I have a good support system at school and I pray that my students will show progress on their MCAS scores. Please join me in praying for progress.

Yesterday, I was informed that I am getting student teachers! They are juniors at a local college studying ESL education. I have two ESL students in my class, so the college girls are going to be joining me for 2 hours every Monday. It's weird knowing that a year ago I was in their place and now I'm "in charge" of them. I'm not exactly sure what my responsibilities are with them in the classroom, but hopefully I will soon find out.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Flexible Planning

I have always been a planner: not in the sense of making the plans, but with making sure the plans were implemented EXACTLY how they were supposed to. When my friends and I would go into the city, I would be the one who knew the plan: where we needed to be, when we needed to be there, and how to get there. Sometimes this caused me to be stressed and not enjoy myself because I wanted to keep us on our tight schedule. If the plans changed or didn't happen as they were supposed to, I got anxious.

Yesterday, I spent at least 5 hours planning for the week. Going into school today, I felt good about my plans and the day went by quickly because I over-planned. However, in our common planning time today, I got so many other ideas that I could do this week that were better than my plan. Therefore my plans are once again changing for the week. This should have stressed me out due to the aforementioned characteristic of myself, but instead it is exciting. I now have a better lesson plan than I had on my own.

I am learning to be flexible. Usually I'll plan something, but then end up doing something else, or spending more time on something that I did not anticipate would be a problem for my students. Today, I had a "great" Social Studies lesson planned. We were going to read The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (Longfellow), and then read another account of Paul Revere's ride from Revere's perspective and compare the two. However, we only got through the Longfellow poem because it was a much more challenging poem than I was anticipating. It is chock-full of vocabulary and very long! However, it taught me to anticipate problems more than I have been. I'm not sure what I would have done differently with the poem, but it would not have been what I did in my "great lesson."

This idea of flexibility is freeing. It reminds me that God has a bigger plan than I do. Sometimes I get frustrated when my "life plans" don't go as planned, but because God is the greatest planner, His will always prevails. If God had a plan for the Israelites when they were wandering the desert, He has a plan for me.