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After a very busy January Term at Columbia, lots of changes in my life, and most importantly 16 classes and countless papers, lesson plans, and unit plans of hard work over the past year and half, I finally dove into Student Teaching. This is what we have worked so hard for, and I am excited to share my journey with you!
Room 105 at Blaine Elementary, where I will call home for the next four months, already knows me well. I have observed in their classroom, worked closely with their teacher, gotten to know the students, and have taught them a few lessons over the past semester during work for my practicum class. Now, for my student teaching internship course, I will spend all day, every day, joining them in their learning.
The weekend leading up to my student teaching I was a mix of emotions: excited, nervous, hopeful, happy… just about everything. I had talked extensively with my cooperating teacher about my time there. We had created a plan to weave me into the lead teaching role, taking on one subject at a time, and spoke about the upcoming units and lessons the students would be focusing on in language arts, math, science, social studies, and arts integration. I had already started planning my lessons for mathematics, as well as creating my lesson for my first formal observation.
The first week of student teaching Chicago Public Schools was closed for Monday and Tuesday due to inclement weather. Although I was disappointed that I didn’t get to start right away, I was thankful for the extra time to lesson plan, get other homework completed, spend time with family, and relax a little before my life got super busy. Our first week of student teaching was short, but informative. I jumped in and started right away leading “morning meeting,” a time for students to greet each other, start their day in a positive way, and learn a little about each other; teaching mathematics, including planning and implementing all lessons, small group instruction and assessments; transitioning the class to and from classes, to specials, to lunch and recess, etc.; and began to take on small roles teaching parts of language arts and science. I quickly understood a few important things about teaching: the amount of planning, work, and coffee necessary to get me through a full day of teaching every day.
After that first week, I began preparing for my math lesson for my first formal observation that would happen on Tuesday, February 4. After spending hours looking over standards and objectives, deciding on the perfect essential question, using multiple curriculum resources, finding the right manipulatives and materials, and cultivating what I was sure to be an excellent lesson integrating dance and math to teach the beginning concepts of division, our schedule changed. On Monday of that week, the second grade teaching team at Blaine was informed that MAP testing (a standardized test for reading and mathematics) would take place. Because of the testing schedule, I had to quickly change my mathematics lesson into a reading lesson for different students.
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Although it was challenging to have to make so many changes so quickly due to things that were out of my control, I was able to (very quickly) create an entirely new lesson for reading that included learning the elements of Pourquoi Folk Tales, reading a Pourquoi, and having students write their own Pourquoi. I was extremely excited for the new lesson, and it went very well! I was complemented by my supervisor on my flexibility in planning and teaching; my ability to plan something so thorough, so engaging, and with such depth in such a short time; and on my actual teaching of the lesson. I now understood two more things about teaching: you must be flexible and you must be able to work quickly! Challenge: accepted!
Feeling good about my first observation and my first few weeks, I am excited to venture into even more teaching. Things to come include teaching completely on my own for one day (as my cooperating teacher will be out for a training), planning and teaching an entire literacy unit, taking the students on a field trip, art integration units, and fully taking on social studies and science.