Good Morning!

This week so far, and last week have been wonderful.  I realized after talking to my cooperating teacher that I have been judging my days based on my performance.  Not on my students.  While I need to focus on myself to reflect, I also need to make sure that I am thinking about my students performance.  This morning is going well, 1 discipline problem that I nipped in the butt.  I will not let that affect my day.  Overall, my kids did wonderful today and were very diligent about doing their work.  I think the anticipatory set really hooked them into the lesson about Native American’s on the Lewis and Clark trail.  I was happy with the work, and I just need the behavior to go well.

What should guide my days rather than my success in getting my students quiet, keeping a behavior level to minimum problems, I need to judge my day by if my students got it, or if they enjoyed doing what they were doing, and are able to create something from it.  Can they form an opinion on it?  Do they remember the main topic and why it was chosen?   What they make in my room, and learn from it is more important than on if I remembered to do the worksheets in the correct order, or the activities went the way I planned.

We will work on modifications today, and classroom management.  I have a feeling a few kids are going to start having lunch with me every once in a while.  I do not know what else to do.  I hate the fact that I am going to have to make and coerce students to fix their behavior.  Once I am able to work on those skills better, the students will benefit, and so will I.  I also have realized strategies that I will implement from day one.  While becoming the students “friend” (I use that word really loosely) I feel like there are some more personal things I need to change due to subjects I could have handled better.

I’ve learned through experiences now also what to pursuit in the classroom, and also what behaviors to just plain let go.  Most of the experiences that I’m dealing with now are how to fine tune aspects of my classroom management.  I know in the future, lunch detentions and stricter punishments will be put in place.  It is hard to deal with some situations in the heat of the moment.  It’s a skill I will have to work on forever.

So my goals for the next 2 weeks are: better classroom management, working on creative ways to get my students more actively engaged and to stop beating myself up for behavior problems.  I have learned that I cannot beat myself up for problems that I cannot control.   Tomorrow is always a new day, and another chance with students who, even if they don’t show it, look up to you.

Respect, Individuality and Lots of Love <3

Why are students treated so differently from the way adults treat each other?  Wouldn’t they know that they are being treated poorly?  The way some of the teachers at the school I teach speak to their students amazes me.  I would not speak of my enemies in the way that some of these teacher speak to their students.  How can you gain respect from someone who you obviously do not respect in anyway?  They try to force respect from their students.  Is that possible?  I feel like bitterness and becoming closed off and shut down are what will happen after this power play.  The student feels as though they are not respected as an individual.

Students will get lost in the sea of 8th grade if their teachers are not teaching towards the individual and only the group.   Talking with another teacher yesterday got me thinking about students and individuals.  Everyone is different, everyone has different interests, dislikes, senses of humor and backgrounds.  How can you teach someone if you are not paying attention to these things?  You would do the same amount of good doing that as if you were teaching a brick wall.  The students need to be able to personalize their learning.  Today my students did a map activity about Lewis and Clark.  They drew their own neighborhood, and we went through the map making steps together using their maps to show examples of what is needed in a map.  I had them engaged for almost the entire period.  Hopefully my afternoon classes will go just as well as the classes this morning.

I’ve had an awesome week with my kids so far, and I’ve received compliments from my cooperating teacher.  I feel as though I’m getting it.  Even thought this might be the case, I know there will always been new obstacles every day that I will have to overcome.   At the beginning of the Lewis and Clark Unit on Tuesday we looked at quotes that explorers have said to get students in the mindset for the following unit.  The quotes were:

Ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go.  James Cook

Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again. James Cook

I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks. Daniel Boone

I was happy in the middle of dangers and inconveniences. Daniel Boone

While these quotes had meaning for my students, and their responses were WONDERFUL to listen to, the meaning that they had for me while I was choosing them was different.  I feel as though all of these quotes can be so easily related to every challenge in life, not just an exploration.  Maybe every challenge is an exploration, one of yourself.  This dive into the teaching career has been more of an exploration for me.  I think that is why I feel this unit and I are perfection at the moment.  I’m exploring the different philosophies of teaching, different methods and management that work for me.  This journey, conquest, expedition into teaching has become a growing experience unlike any other.  It has let me become more of an adult than I’ve ever seen in myself.  These kids have no idea how they will fit into my life forever.

I love my students.  I like to think of them first as people, then as young adults.  People all like to be treated the same, no matter what.   Take a second and think about what those quotes might mean to you and your students.

So angry.

The entry I just posted was from yesterday.  I am sitting here after my seminar student teaching class, and I am angry.  Maybe it’s from my cooperating teacher (www.blogush.edublogs.org) or maybe it is me finally developing how I want to become as a teacher.  I haven’t decided yet, but I know how I want to be when I finally am able to teach my own class.   I want to engage the kids.  Maybe I don’t have behavior issues severely because I’ve gotten to know my kids.  I’ve built that buy in with them.  It could be because most of them are white middle class kids from healthy backgrounds, or maybe it’s me.  I don’t know yet, but I’m trying as hard as I can possibly try every day.

We had a seminar tonight about bad classroom experiences, kids that are talking in class, not paying attention.  I just wanted to scream at these people, YOUR LESSONS ARE BORING, THAT’S WHY THEY ARE TALKING.  If the kids are engaged in your lesson for the day, why would they be talking to their neighbors?  If you truly sucked them into what you are talking about, unless its time for them to discuss, why would they be talking?  I can tell the exact moment when I lose my kids in my lesson.  I know the group I’m having the most issues with is because I haven’t found that thing to engage them, and because I know them the least.  How can I get around that?  By working at it every day, trying new things, not saying the kids are rude and lazy.  All kids care about something, so I don’t want to hear one more jaded teacher tell me that their kids just DO NOT CARE.  You are full of it.  The kids care, you just have them after years of teachers telling them they aren’t going to get it, and they are failures.

Some kid yelled at me the other day, and the first thing I thought was I can’t believe he said that to me.  Today I’m thinking, what prompted that response?  Why did he talk back?  What might be going on at home?  Why does he feel the need to not respect me?  I’m sitting reflecting and planning my next move.  More discipline?  We will see how the next day goes.  Maybe he just needs a hug and doesn’t know how to ask for it.  I wear my emotions on my sleeve as my cooperating teacher likes to remind me, but I think I like it that way.  While yes, sometimes it can be overbearing, and can cause more stress than needed, I like to think it makes me a better person.   Maybe, just maybe when I get a full time position, I can be the person that shows them that I care.  Maybe I’ll be able to get those students who have given up, to care, just a little.  That will be my victory.

Reflective teacher? Maybe.  Caring teacher? I’m trying so hard it makes me sick.  The more you give a student rules, the more they rebel.  It’s proven in students and in adults.  Maybe the kid just wanted the attention he wasn’t getting at home by talking back to me?  I’m thinking about the small battles I’ve won compared to the other student teachers in my class.  I’m on my sixth week of student teaching, and they are only on their second.  Maybe they will wise up.  I hope so.

Teaching is a lonely profession, even though you deal with human being’s all day long.  When was the last time teachers got together for Professional Development and were open to criticism?  When did they not blame the students for their failed lesson plans?  When did they take the time to look at what they are doing right, wrong, and need to try again differently.  I’ve been told I was lucky in my student teaching placement, maybe it was fate.  Even on bad days like today, I love what I’m doing.

Awesome shoes.

Today I am wearing my favorite pair of heels to teach in.  They are dark silver pumps with 2.5 inch heels.  I feel good in these shoes.  I feel like because of the long weekend, the day so far and these shoes that NOTHING can get me down.  Maybe I need to wear these shoes more often.  I was so perky with my classes this morning, and I can totally see how it helped the mood.

The lessons went by fast today, too fast almost.  I savored each moment with my classes.  It was a feeling that I haven’t had before.  Watching them leaving to go to their other classes was a sad moment, but also extremely happy.  Usually my first day of the week is not nearly as happy.  I missed my students this weekend, thought of them when I was sick on Friday.

Today I gave the class a quick writing assignment about how I’ve been doing so far this year.  I’m only giving it to the students who I have had since day one.  I wanted them to write down what they have liked and disliked, assignments that they have liked and disliked, and a suggestion for me.  During team meeting time, which was completely worthless, I read all the likes and dislikes.  It made me happy to understand where I need to go to make them happy, and it told me that I was doing a pretty good job.  No one will like everything, and I can’t make every student happy with every assignment.  I know where I want to go with this unit, and where my next unit is going.  My lesson planning muse is back, and hopefully this week will go well with projects.

I got told today by a student that I was not mean enough in class. I need to work on that.  I’m not a mean person in general, so it is hard for me to get upset.  I need to work on it because my students are starting to walk over me.  They are testing me, and now it’s time to test them back.  We shall see who wins this war.

Sickness

While I don’t know if i’m this upset, because I’m sick, or because I’m exhausted.  Maybe a bit of both.  I had such a good week, even though there was a wake and funeral thrown in there.  I really love my kids.  I just feel so pressured to come up with the most amazing lesson plans that are interesting and creative, that it’s almost hindering my ability to make any at all.  I hear all these stories about how teachers were so traditional at first, and then evolved.  When do I get to evolve?  During student teaching?  I’m barely grasping the material.  How am I supposed to do this in 10 weeks?  It is not NEARLY enough time.  Projects, presentations, classroom management, discipline or lack there of.   Why was I given tests constantly?  Why did I never get the option of fun projects?  How come my teachers never listened to me or cared?  I’m trying so hard, and I’m trying to communicate to my students that I care.

How does that actually work in an environment where they know I’m leaving?

I’m a long term substitute that doesn’t really know what the hell she is doing.   I know that everything that I’m learning in my cooperating teacher’s classroom will help me in the long run, but I’m slightly jealous of the fact that my fellow student teachers can lecture, and make tests.  The lesson plans they write are so easy.  I know I’m just complaining because I’m tired of working so hard.

If it wasnt for my kids, putting up funny sticky notes around my desk, saying funny things about miley cyrus’ butt, or just cracking me up in general.  I would have quit.  But I love these kids.  I care about them more than they prolly realize.  I need to show them more.  I have my gameplan set for Tuesday.

5 hours later:

I wrote that, then had to go out with a friend to help me lesson plan, and boy did my day turn around.  I feel like I’ve gotten my muse back, my creativity back. Tomorrow, when I feel better,  I will start anew.  Student teaching has definately taught me that each day is new.  Another valuable learning experiance.

This weeks theme song, Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus with bonus comments by the students of 8 -2.   Turning on the radio recently has made me so happy, because of those kids.

Creative or…. not so much.

I have never been one to boast that I am a creative person.  Nope, not me.  Give me a knitting pattern, and some yarn and I can make you something beautiful.  But writing out a beautiful pattern?  Nothing that I’ve ever been able to do.  But hearing it today being told back to me, after working my tail off just hurt.  I’ve been trying so hard to make this stuff interesting to the kids.  Maybe if I wasn’t exhausted, maybe if I hadn’t been trying with everything I have every day.  Maybe if I didn’t get to have my flaws pointed out to me by myself and others constantly I’d take this better.  Just once I’d like to hear my cooperating teacher say, you did a really good job today and not because I asked him.  Utterly depressing.

I feel like a frustrated child.  A frustrated student, and I’m asking for help.  I thought this week went well and I don’t know if I should feel upset or happy at the moment.  I don’t know if I can be in a profession where I constantly feel like I’m never achieving my best.  I know understand how special education kids feel when they believe they FINALLY achieved something only to be shot down, one more time.  I understand the frustration, if mine is only slight compared to theirs. I really wish my kids knew how hard I am trying, how hard most teachers are trying day to day.

I have a really bad feeling about next week.  I feel like my students aren’t getting it, I feel like I’m giving it my all and it’s not good enough.  I’ve been told for the past 22 years to stop being creative and play the school game.  In a period where I’m going through an epic amount of stress, I don’t know if I can learn to play a new game at the moment.  I’m scared.

I don’t know how to be creative, and it hurts.  I like learning history, for history’s sake.  I’m not an actor, I’m not a improviser, I’m a crappy story teller, and I don’t know where to begin to fix it.  I want to fix myself.  But not for me, I want to fix this for kids I BARELY KNOW.  Kids that I don’t know if they care or not, but I really want that change. I feel like I’m hoping for change that can only happen after years of experience.  Sometimes I think being a progressive teacher would be more rewarding, for me and the students, but being a traditional teacher might save my sanity.  I hate feeling like everything I’m doing is wrong.

I’m trying to remember the laughs of the beginning of the week.  A student using the word facetious constantly, listening to music with a few girls, joking around with the students.  I need to remember the smiles to get through this feeling.

and I thought the weirdest thing would have been being “Ms. Morrissey”

I am learning so much student teaching.  I knew it would be hard, and everyone told me that.  But no one alluded to the fact that this experience would help me grow in way’s that I have never imagined.  I am a really shy person.  Being in the front of the classroom, around 100 students everyday has created a new found confidence that I have never experienced in my life before.  I have a voice that is loud.  Shocking to me to say the least.  Classroom management and confidence was the scariest part about this experience, but so far, it seems to be going rather well.  There are things I like to refer to as “hiccups”, a bad attitude here and there, students going a little too far with certain topics that become inappropriate, but overall my kids are wonderful.  I really love them, and while I use the word love in my life more than most people, I truly mean that.

Today’s lesson was not a super success, or a super failure.  I have a hunch that I will feel that on most days for the first few years of this growing and learning experience.  This may not be a bad thing, as long as the days are full of laughter with my students like today was.  I’m beginning to be able to reflect on my lessons between classes.  It is helpful to be able to change things on the fly per class.  Having mixed ability leveled classes has been so hard, but has made me strive to be better for them.

Sometimes as a teacher, you have to take yourself out of the equation.  Easier said than done, definitely.  This week, even though it is Tuesday, has shown me that.  Even when your pride is hurt, when your feelings are bruised, or you feel personally attacked, you must step back and realize usually the student did not mean to do that.  Usually something else has caused them to do something to make you upset.  However, it is hard to help students who SEEM to not want to help themselves.  Motivation is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn, with my cooperating teacher’s assistance.  To think that the student did not do something because of you is foolish, even though you are still hurt on the inside.  Chances are not limited in life, and school is just another part of life.  Kids get to mess up just like us adults do.  We have to not push them down after they fall, but put out a hand to help them climb back up.

The most important lesson that I have learned this week has been to make sure I have me time.  While this seems silly, lately I have been working constantly on lesson plans and unit plans, reflecting on how to become better, making sure I see my boyfriend enough, and working a part time job, I have seemed to forget about my mental health in the bigger picture.  Balance is a key factor in being a teacher and staying sane.  I am a perfectionist at heart, and while in most instances and professions, this trait is considered good, it is hard as a teacher.  Nothing you do will be perfect, and constant hard work is required to grow.  Hard concept to really hold onto.

This week will be more about the balance of students in my life, lesson planning, making sure I have me time so I keep my smile for my students and for myself.

Flip Flop

As I sit here and watch hell’s kitchen with a puppy on me as my form of relaxation, I am really thinking back about today and not the television program.  Today was a fail in the scale of successful lessons.  My kids weren’t engaged and they weren’t engaged yesterday by the lack of preparation.  Am I not preparing them for their activities?  Am I finding activities that are over their heads?  What can I do to get them to not just sit and stare at me for forty minutes.  I find myself asking this question, and I refuse to blame anyone in the situation.  I will not be the student teacher who blames the students for not finding interest in my lessons.  But I also refuse to completely blame myself and wallow.  I’ve tried being more prepared with questions.  I’m working on making more meaningful personal connections.  Tomorrow will be a new activity that will hopefully perk fire’s interest.  I will walk into class like it is my first day teaching, with a bright smile on my face and maybe, just maybe, they will talk.

My cooperating teacher said something inspiring yesterday.  Don’t teach for the whole class, just teach for one student.  If one student gets something out of it, you haven’t failed.  That’s not a direct quote, and I might be embellishing, but it’s what I need to keep thinking to get out of bed at the crack of dawn to face my fears again.  Tomorrow, hostess face on no matter what.  I’m doing an activity that I LOVE.  Hopefully my student’s love it too.  If not, I’ll just try again next week to engage them.  I will not give up.

Informal Control

This week was one of learning and roller coasters.  It was also one that showed me that all of the jobs I’ve done in my life have been completely mindless.  While there is an art and skill to being a hostess, one that I only understand now after 2 years, teaching is the hardest thing I’ve ever undertaken.  There is always an immense learning curve to be had when starting something new.  Even if it seems simple to begin with, like riding a bike or learning how to knit.

Skills like learning how to read kids, getting them to become inquisitive learners, asking the correct and well placed question and being in control of a classroom with a minimum of laid out rules is something that cannot be taught in a classroom.  My teacher prep program is hypocritical and unable to prepare students to become student teachers, let alone actual teachers.  Creating student centered activities that are not disguised as something that is actually low order thinking has been the most challenging monument to overcome.   I’ve realized that continuing to become angry about this is wasteful energy.  Que Sera.  Without my cooperating teacher I’d be lost.  My informal control of my classroom, as my student teaching supervisor put it, is where I am at now and I can only hope it continues to get easier.  I know there will be peaks, valleys, and tears of joy and frustration.  But if I plan to grow over time, even continuing once I become a teacher legitimately, it is something that I will have to grow to embrace.  I am not perfect, I will never be perfect.  But neither is my cooperating teacher.  Seeing him teach a lesson that is failing, shows me that even people doing it for years can still have a bad day and that I am not alone.

Step one was learning my area’s where I needed work, and now I’m moving on to step two which is acknowledging these areas and working at them, which has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  One thing that I have to remember, is that I’m not going through all of this alone.  My supervisor, my cooperating teacher, and my students are there for me, and I have to be there for them as well.  My students are going through the same peaks, valleys and tears that I am.  We will learn together.