Student Teaching Reflection: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Today was an interesting day as I stepped down from my podium, returned to the observing position, and allowed my cooperating teacher to reclaim her position as the primary teacher. I felt way less stressed as I walked into the classroom knowing that I wasn’t responsible for anything today. It was also a bit odd though as I felt that I needed to fill my cooperating teacher in on what’s going on, especially since she was absent the last few days, so that she could pick up where I left off.

I was surprised at first that my cooperating teacher did not ask me how things have been going, where the students are at, or anything. At first, she seemed to ignore my existence. Finally, she asked if there was anything new to report, and I filled her in on where all of the students are at. I told her about what each class is doing, how they are progressing, and let her know that I finished grading all of the artworks and quizzes from all of the classes and entered them into the grade book. “It’s all graded, so you just need to hand it all back and catch up with the students who were absent,” I explained. The weirdest part, though, was when she asked me to move from where I was sitting.

“Can you find a different spot to sit? I want to be able to get to the hall passes easily. You can sit in the back where I’ve been if you like,” she said. I was incredibly confused as I’ve been sitting at this desk since my first day of Student Teaching. This was the desk that she instructed me to sit at, explaining that it was my space to work and observe. Anytime that a student needed a hall pass, I would pull it out from the drawer and fill it out for them which actually seemed to help my cooperating teacher. With this process, the hall passes were guarded and my teacher didn’t have to stop what she was doing to fill out a pass. I don’t know where this sudden change came from, but I obliged as I moved to the back of the room.

It is different being at the back of the room. Several times students asked where I was as they couldn’t see me. I also felt very removed from the classroom. Before when I was observing, I would walk around the classroom, help monitor and manage the classes, and interact with and assist the students. Today, I wasn’t sure if my teacher wanted me to or if she would rather me simply observe. I walked around and assisted ocassionally when I began feeling too removed. I don’t mind being at the back of the room if that’s where my teacher would like me to be as I can still observe and learn, I’m just confused about the change.

Today was an interesting opportunity as I was able to observe my cooperating teacher in a new light. Although I have been observing for weeks, I had a new perspective. Because I have taught in this classroom as the primary teacher for a few weeks, I could now observe my teacher with new insight. I could see how she handled situations I struggled with and notice techniques that I used that seem to be more effective than hers. I was pleased to find that the classes were about the same as when I was in charge, so perhaps my classroom management skills aren’t in need of as much improvement as I may have originally thought.

The advanced classes, (AP, Painting III/IV, and Painting II,) are not difficult to handle and they went about the same as they always do. It was the Art I classes, (2nd, 3rd, and 5th Period,) that I was most interested in observing. I immediately noticed that the 2nd and 3rd Periods were actually less managed and more wild than when I was in charge. Students were incredibly verbal, way more confident in moving about the room and messing with each other, and were more combative in getting to work. They felt comfortable wasting time and picking on my teacher. My cooperating teacher was very friendly and playful with the students, so I’m trying to figure out whether I need to lighten up a bit or if it would benefit my teacher to harden down a bit. The 2nd and 3rd periods did go pretty well, but the 5th Block class was not as successful.

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Student Teaching Reflection: Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Today was a pretty good day overall and I am happy with my results. Today was the last day that I will be acting as the primary teacher in the classroom. Today was also the day my cooperating teacher decided to take her “free day” which she is awarded for having a Student Teacher. She was allowed to take the day off while I taught the class without a substitute in the room. It was only me in the room, but I felt comfortable and confident.

Today, my Art I students took the Printmaking quiz that I worked on last week. There were three versions, one for EA Special Needs students, one for integrated Special Needs students, and one for the rest of the students. My cooperating teacher advised that I give the Special Needs version to students who were also just struggling in the class, but may not necessarily be identified as Special Needs. I found it difficult to remember who to give each quiz, especially since I was supposed to do so in a way that no one knew there were different quizzes. I ended up making one mistake, giving a student who is struggling in the class a “normal” quiz. After grading his quiz, though, he actually did well on it and would have only gotten one more question right on the Special Needs quiz. It’s difficult to keep track of all of the students with their individual needs and try to meet their needs in a private manner. This is something I will need to continue working on.

After grading all of the quizzes, I was pretty happy with the results. Most of the students did really well and there weren’t any questions that most of the class missed, meaning that my quiz seemed fair. I was especially worried about the diagram of a print I had put on the quiz that asked students to read some information such as, “This is Lindsey Brown’s fourth print. She plans on making ten prints in total. She wants to title it “Fox Eyes,” and then label the print using the information. Almost every single student succeeded with that part, which made me very proud. Many of the students did not label their prints correctly, so I’m glad to see that they can at least do so on a quiz.

Other than taking the quizzes, the rest of the class periods were work days in which students were continuing their clay creatures. Several of the clay creatures dried over the weekend, but we did have a few casualties. An elephant lost its head, a fox lost its horn, and several creatures had cracks or breaks. I worked with the students to repair their pieces and hope that they will dry without breaking this time. I’ve still been working with students to try to make their pieces strong in the first place so that their pieces won’t break when they dry.

I still found it difficult to manage the Art I classes when they were working on their clay creatures, but I’ve been told that it’s just always going to be that way. Thankfully, today was a lot better than Friday. Students were still out of their seats, needing hall passes, refusing to work, on their phones, messing with friends, needing my help, and all of the other activities that generally go on every day. I feel that I am learning how to generally manage these classes. I’m just worried about another serious event coming up, but hopefully I’ll be better able to handle it now.

There’s really not much else to report as it was a pretty chill day. I administered my quiz and found it to be fair and successful. I graded the quizzes along with other artworks that I’ve been struggling to find the time to grade and started handing back work. I made lists of the students who were missing work or were absent for the quiz and will be checking in with these students tomorrow. I entered all of the grades and feel caught up on everything. I am proud of my work today and look forward to tomorrow.

Student Teaching Reflection: Friday, February 27, 2015

Today was an odd day as it was good for the most part, but I had one of my worst classroom management issues.

Today, my cooperating teacher was pulled from the room as the school was short on substitute teachers. She was asked to sub for another class, so I was the only teacher in the room all day. I wasn’t worried as I’ve subbed for my teacher several times and have been the primary teacher for almost two weeks now. Plus, it was Friday, and the classes are usually easier to handle on Fridays.

The classes did go well for the most part. I was direct with the students about what I expected from them at the end of the day, even though it was a work day, and I reminded them about the quiz that they’ll be taking on Monday. I helped students continuously and seemed to bond with the students as well as they talked to me about their interests and told me that they didn’t want me to leave after next Friday. I felt that the classes were productive, yet fun. I was feeling pretty good about everything, but then 5th Block occurred.

5th Block is notoriously the hardest class to control and the most tiring class of the entire day. I was expecting today to go smoothly as it was another work day and because the Special Needs students had let me know that they were not going to be in attendance today. We have a group of about 10 Special Needs students that come to the class each day, so without them, the near-40-student class would be greatly diminished. I thought that this would make the class quieter, more focused, and easier to handle. Unfortunately, I had several issues and did not address them all correctly.

The class began as normal with several different students needing me for several different reasons. I was taking attendance when I received a call from Tutorials asking for one of my students. When I told the student he needed to report to Tutorials, he wouldn’t go at first. Students needed to get a drink, go to the bathroom, needed my help, and some even needed to turn in assignments from last week. I felt overwhelmed for just one person. Finally, everything was settled and the work day began, but there were some students I just could not get to work. It’s hard to motivate students to work, help students who need assistance, manage students who are misbehaving, and keep an eye on the entire class at the same time. Teaching is way more than I was expecting. I just don’t remember seeing this many problems when I was in high school as a student.

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Student Teaching Reflection: Thursday, February 26, 2015

Today was an okay day. Thankfully, I felt in a better mood than I have been most of this week as I felt less tired and more chipper. I’ve been feeling increasingly stressed all week.

Today I had a new experience as I was invited to sit in on an ARD Meeting. I have never had any experience with an ARD Meeting before, so this was enlightening and I learned a lot. While I have studied and learned about these meetings in classes, it is much more beneficial to actually see the meeting in person. This particular meeting was addressing a student with incredible vision disabilities. Legally blind and 19 years old, this student is working towards becoming more independent so that he can get a job and start living a more independent life. I’m not sure what kind of program the student is in, but it seemed incredibly beneficial for his needs. The members in attendance seemed to care for the student personally and were talking about his transition to a new program. They kept talking about his long-term goals of getting a job in the food industry or becoming a farmer, and would talk about how to help him reach those goals. I was surprised at some of the expectations they had set for the student, such as learning how to shower independently, fill out a job application, find transportation to and from work, and other life skills. These are skills that I do not feel are well-taught in the school system, so I was surprised that this student was in some kind of program that focused on teaching like this. His mother was also encouraging and interested in the meeting, wanting the best for her son. At the end of the meeting, all members signed in agreement for the year-long curriculum for the student. This was an incredibly beneficial meeting for me to witness.

Other than the ARD Meeting, the rest of the day was pretty standard as all of the classes have been participating in work days in order to complete their current assignments. I am still finding it difficult to help all of the students efficiently and effectively and managing all of the tasks that must be done such as taking attendance, signing hall passes, handing out supplies, and managing the classroom. I still feel like this job is too big for one person to handle.

This was incredibly apparent during 5th Period when the Special Needs students’ assistants asked for my assistance. The assistants felt that the students were completed with their clay creations and they wanted my approval on the pieces before setting them out to dry. While I was approving, I was showing how the creations needed to be made more sturdy in order to not break during the drying process. They also asked me to help two students who would not create a creature in particular with the clay, but would just play with it. I obliged, but this took up a great deal of my time and the rest of the class needed me as well. At one point, while I was helping the Special Needs students, my cooperating teacher emerged from the back of the room to manage the class and discipline misbehaving students. I felt hurt that I wasn’t doing my job well enough that my teacher had to intervene.

Today was tiring as I felt flustered and overworked. There’s also still a large pile of artworks and papers that need to be graded on my desk that I can’t seem to find time to grade. Even during my Conference period, something comes up, like the ARD Meeting today. Teaching is an incredibly exhausting career and I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to this kind of workload.

Student Teaching Reflection: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Today I made three versions of the same quiz! I was asked to make a quiz for the Art I classes to take next Monday over the Printmaking unit they just recently completed and was happy to create one. I was then surprised when I was asked to create different versions, especially since the Color Theory quiz the Art I students took did not have different versions. I was asked to make one for the class as a whole, one for the students who have been identified as Special Needs in some way, and then one for the Special Needs students who come into the class separately and who are paired with assistants, (the EA students.) When the students took the Color Theory quiz, the EA students were simply excused and there weren’t alternate versions made for the integrated Special Needs students. Although my teacher may not make alternate versions, I was happy to create alternate versions, myself.

I was pleased with my original quiz as it contains a variety of questions: true or false, matching, labeling, fill in the blank, etc. I was also excited about my image of a print that the students need to label correctly. Overall, I think this quiz is well-made, so I will have to see how the students handle it next Monday.

I then created a modified version for the integrated Special Needs students and adjusted it after receiving feedback from my cooperating teacher. She suggested I make it shorter, take out harder questions, give less choices during matching and multiple choice, give choices during fill in the blank, and use images. She also explained that I would need to hand this modified version to identified students without anyone knowing that they were receiving a different version. This sounds tricky as I’ll have to personally hand each student their quiz to make sure they are receiving the right one without anyone knowing there’s a difference.

Afterwards I created one for the EA students. I was confused about making a quiz for them because they were excused last time. Many of the students cannot speak or will not speak, and some seem to have incredibly low function. My cooperating teacher and I suggest that one student is at a one-year-old’s level or so. How can I test someone who doesn’t even understand a language yet? I created a 5-question quiz that focused on basic ideas. I used pictures and all questions were multiple choice, many times with only two choices to choose from. I learned a great deal from making these quizzes, and after getting approval from my cooperating teacher and an EA assistant, I feel confident in my ability to modify for students’ needs.

Other than making the quizzes, the rest of the day was pretty standard. All of the classes are working on the same assignments from last week and have work days to try to complete them. I felt frazzled during the Art I classes, as always, as all of the students seemed to need me for something. I am still finding it difficult to manage these classes, especially when it comes to behavior. At one point, my cooperating teacher addressed a student for using foul language, and I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t caught it.

I still feel like I need to improve my classroom management skills. Lesson planning, making quizzes, and delivering instruction, I feel that I have mastered. I can create interesting presentations, keep students engaged, and create useful activities with clear learning objectives, but it is hard for me to raise my voice and it is hard for me to discipline students. I still feel that I have much growing to accomplish.

Student Teaching Reflection: Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Today was another tiring work day in which my entire day was filled with classroom management and assisting students as they work. I have found that I don’t like work days much. It is tiring on me as I pace the room and help students as they need. In the Art I classes I am frantically moving about as several students call for my help constantly. My feet hurt, I feel flustered, and I get incredibly bored. The days feel long, and I feel like I’m doing the same thing every day. I feel as if I’m not benefiting the students since I’m not actually teaching, but I know that’s not true. The students are receiving my personal help and are learning through creating as they work on their artworks. I just feel more energized when I’m actually instructing or presenting material. I haven’t figured out how to brighten work days for me.

Today I continuously ran out of clay for the Art I students and had to cut clay several times. Thankfully today was Cougar Time where classes are shortened to allow for a new class period in which the students participate in activities led by a peer team leader. I used this extra class period to cut more clay which I ended up needing again. I have found that I needed more clay than I thought and it may have been more beneficial to cut all 10 or so boxes of clay in one long setting, rather than cutting one box at a time. I am sick of cutting clay. It’s long, it’s dirty, and it’s hard to fit into the day. Next time I do clay, I’ll prepare for it better and cut all the clay I need ahead of time.

Because yesterday’s critique with the Painting II students didn’t seem to go well and all of the students turned in their artworks without changing them anyway, I had to come up with another thing for them to do while the rest of the students finish their assignments by the Wednesday deadline. It’s crazy that some students finished within a few days and others don’t look like they’re going to make the deadline. It’s hard to set deadlines in the art class.

To occupy the Painting II students temporarily, I decided to allow them an experimental day, something I’ve seen my cooperating teacher do. I explained that I would give a new assignment to the whole class tomorrow and today they have the day to experiment. “Dig out the watercolors, the acrylics, the pastels! Try something you haven’t tried before! We’ve got plenty of scrap paper; today’s about experimenting and learning on your own!” I was pleased that the students were very receptive. All of them were eager to try something on their own and many of them grouped up and painted together. There were portraits, landscapes, watercolor, acrylic…I was excited for what they were creating and learning. I thought that this was a beneficial experience for the students and an exciting reward for finishing early. They were occupied, painting, and seemed to be learning. Unfortunately though, my cooperating teacher told me afterwards that she would prefer that I have an actual activity for the students instead of allowing an experimental day. Tonight I need to prepare a new activity for the early finishers to work on. In the future, I think that an experimental day could be a positive reward for good behavior or possibly for students who finish early. As long as students are working and learning, I believe that it is beneficial.

Student Teaching Reflection: Monday, February 23, 2015

Today was the beginning of my second week acting as the primary teacher as if my cooperating teacher was not in the room. I found that I was much more comfortable and confident today and felt as if I’ve been the actual teacher the whole time. I’m not sure why that is since I’ve only been the teacher for about a week, but maybe it’s because I have substituted for my teacher at least 5 days. In a way, this is my third week as the primary teacher!

This week is primarily a work week for all of my students, so my job will be mostly classroom management and helping students personally. I found that it is still difficult to assist the Art I classes as students need clay, printmaking materials, ideas, inspiration, personal help, management, so many things! I am finding it difficult to bounce from one student to the next and having to tell students that I’ll get to them in a second as I help another who’s called for help. This is increased in difficulty when a large number of Special Needs students is in the class as I must greatly modify for them and aware their assistants of the day’s agenda and procedures. I literally feel like I’m teaching two classes in one during those class periods. Thankfully, my cooperating teacher has been assuring me that while the class may seem chaotic, I’m actually succeeding in keeping the students busy and well-managed. Whenever she says this I feel a lot better as I find myself with sore feet, just about out of breath, and feeling a bit defeated after the Art I classes. Perhaps I just need to build more self-confidence and assurance. I may just need to adjust to this hectic and busy job.

Today I learned a good deal more about the Painting II class. Last Wednesday we started a new painting assignment, “What’s Your Problem?” an assignment that the class voted on. I was expecting the assignment to take the full two weeks that I would be teaching but after a day or two I quickly realized that the students were working much more quickly than I anticipated. I set a deadline for this Wednesday, but still found that almost half the class was finished on Friday. Because of this, I needed to quickly come up with something else. Today, I decided to hold a miniature critique with the students who had finished. Those who hadn’t would continue on their projects and wouldn’t participate in the critique. We aligned all of the completed pieces along a table and I had all of the completed students gather around. I explained that the point of the critique was to see how successful the pieces were and to suggest ways to make them even stronger. I reminded the students that they had until Wednesday to make any changes and make their pieces incredibly strong.

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