Saturday, August 27, 2016

Week Two of Student Teaching

I'm still loving it. In case you're just joining me, I'm student teaching high school special education. The first part of my day is spent in a Life Skills classroom for high school students, grades 9-12. I look forward to this part of the day most of all. I'd love to have a class like this.

I wonder if there will come a time when I will wake up and not want to go to my student teaching assignment. I mean, not that I'm not tired. I'm exhausted. My feet hurt, my legs hurt, my back hurts. I'm no spring chicken anymore. But I'm loving every single minute of it.

But, seriously, someone needs to learn to write straight and neatly on the SMART board...

It looks so easy, it seems so easy, but for the life of me, I can't seem to write neatly or straight on this thing! I've got to get the hang of it before they ship me over to the Elementary school to student teach there in six weeks! My students are so sweet. They laugh at me and tell me I'm doing fine. The evidence says differently. We laugh together, though, and I think it's good for them to watch me learn something new. "I will be queen of the SMART board!" I chant. Everyone except a student with autism thinks I'm funny.

"You aren't queen of anything," he shouts.

And I move on to other things, but one of the students, whose heart I've won, says, "But you're the queen of Chromebooks. You know everything about Chromebooks."

Well, not everything. But he doesn't need to know that. Fact is, though, I know more than the supervising teacher and, as it turns out, a lot of teachers. I'm frustrated by that. And by the fact that none of the teachers have Chromebooks. They all have MacBook Pros. So, as I'm demonstrating on a MacBook Pro via the SMART board about adding extensions and apps to Chrome. I finally gave up and had my adult son bring his Chromebook from home.

They (I'm not sure who "they" is) switched the students from iPads to Chromebooks this year. Every student has one, and there are too many students who don't know what to do with them. I even had students who didn't know how to email their teachers, access their documents in Google Drive or know how to open a new document in Google docs. To me, there should have been at least half a day devoted to showing students how to use them, and another day training teachers.

My classroom door Monday before school
I guess there was an in-service, but I don't think very many teachers went and I don't think they remembered what they learned anyway. And I'll just stop right there for now in my ranting before I get in trouble. But I'm so thankful I understand technology and love technology. And I found out this week that I also love teaching technology. That was a surprise to me!

I get to teach the Life Skills unit on Technology and I'm so excited that this is my unit. It will be the unit I'll submit work to my college on, too. And since I'm thinking about getting my Master's in Education Technology, it's like a sign or something. I don't know. It's just such a great fit and I'm so, so happy about it.

So, in technology this week the students were introduced to their Chromebooks, learned how to navigate to all the important places they needed to go such as Google Drive and Google Documents. They learned how to bookmark, how to change their theme on the Google search page, find their Quizlets and assessment pages and were introduced to how to make an infographic in Piktochart.

In math we're working on perimeter. It was my idea to have the students do actual measuring of items in the room because I'd learned from visiting with them last week they were all body smart. Sure enough, they enjoyed the lesson, but the best part? The supervising teacher discovered they didn't know how to measure. There was a learning gap she hadn't thought of, or even imagined they had. So this week we'll be talking more about what the little lines on the ruler mean.

The students also started their "Banking." They make deposits and withdrawals according to worksheets they are given. It's a pretty big deal for them to be able to learn how to fill out these forms. And it's difficult for them. I love teaching this Life Skills class because these kids, unless they have severe emotional difficulties, really want to learn these things.

I'm in charge of Social Skills lessons on Wednesdays. We talked about friendship and the conversation got pretty detailed. I'm using the task cards I found on Teachers Pay Teachers. There are so many great ideas on that website. I had planned about three activities but we only had time for one of them. We talked a lot about what a good friend is, how a good friend will keep you from destroying your life and encourage you to make good choices. The kids hung on my every word. Those were powerful moments for me. I'd love to be able to teach social skills all the time. But wait, didn't I just say I'd love to teach technology? Oy vey. I love all the teaching things!

Friday was Cherry Popsicle Day so we made Popsicle treats to have ready on Friday. The kids were so excited when I suggested we add Mountain Dew to them. Pouring was hard for some of them. And when I asked for one of them to use soft scrub on the stains on the counter, that was a mistake! He poured almost half a bottle on the counter. I'm learning. I'm learning.

In the afternoons I continue to help with algebra, English and science. I got stuck on an algebra problem at the board and one of the students was super disgusted. I was embarrassed. Oh well. You can't know everything about everything. And I never claimed to be a math whiz. The girls in the class were sympathetic, though. So that's something.

I don't pretend to be a know-it-all teacher. I let the kids know that I'm learning just like they are, that I need them to help me learn to be a good teacher. I think that makes them want me to succeed as much as I want them to succeed.

Thursday was another academic day and Friday was National Dog Day. I taught a lesson on the demands of dog ownership and had the kids take a poll on whether or not they should own a dog. We made hot dogs in a dog-shaped warmer and we watched the movie Snow Dogs while I helped a student who'd been absent a lot catch up on his work. I didn't make him leave the room, though. He'd been bullied a lot right before he hadn't been showing up to school, and I didn't want to give him more reasons to hate coming to class. Maybe that was the wrong thing to do. I don't know. But he seemed fine with working on the work he missed while in the same room as the movie. He got most of it done. And later, he even showed initiative right before his bus left to come back to the room and pick up a paper he needed to take home and get signed. I was thrilled.

In the middle of it all this student teaching excitement this week, my editor sent me the edits he wants me to make on the autism book I wrote and sold. I guess I'll do that in my spare time... How will I keep my eyes open? I come home utterly wiped out.

Of course, much more happened this past week but my eyes are heavy and I need to close. I'm ready for week three. On week four I'll have my first evaluation. I'm nervous! Scared. Excited. All the above. I am counting the days until student teaching is over and I can call myself a bona fide certified teacher.

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