Monday, March 21, 2011

Maybe it's the Power Trying to Come Back On?

Day 1 (36) - Monday March 21, 2011
Do you feel that? Is there something coming? Sometimes you don't have to see something to know it is coming. That is exactly what I walked in expecting at Ridge Elementary School. After 8 weeks of teaching 11th and 12th grade students, it was time to begin the next 8 weeks of teaching kindergarten and first grade students. And unlike high school students, these children were all ecstatic to be in physical education class. My cooperating teaching, Ms. Beverly Hinton, was beginning the target unit today which is a culmination of the acquired skills of the overhand, underhand, and Frisbee throws. As soon as the kids walked in the gymnasium, their eyes lit up at all the stations set up for them to us. However, being that this was the first day, each station needed to be explained beforehand giving them limited, albeit some, playing time in the end. The teaching load was more than the high school where I taught 5 classes. Here at Ridge, in one day the physical education teacher can teach as many as 8 classes. By the end of the day, Ms. Hinton felt it time for me to give it a shot and teach the last class of the day. Even though I was a little nervous, I gave it my best and had the kids' attention the entire time. Ms. Hinton gave me a positive review and I look forward to working with her for the duration of this experience. Just as I stated earlier, even though I can tell when the kids are coming by a glass of water, I know not to expect the roar of the mighty tyrannosaurus but rather bright smiles and positive attitudes.

Take a look at the first edition of The Park Center Enquirer: Ridge Edition!!

Day 2 (37) - Tuesday March 22, 2011
You're not going to learn how to teach unless you go up in front of a class and give it a shot. This seems to be Ms. Hinton's philosophy with student teachers! Since I already completed my experience in the high school, she is gradually increasing the number of classes I am teaching each day starting yesterday and proceeding through today. I taught a kindergarten class and a first grade class. It would be the first time the kindergarten class was introduced to the target unit, and the second day of the target unit for the first grade class. I felt very comfortable in front of both classes and did my best to keep their attention all the while explaining what I needed to say. The kindergarten class was a little rough to teach. All of this was new to them and I tried to explain too much to them rather than simplify everything so that they could grasp the concepts easier. Things went better in the first grade class as I connected psychically with Dr. Kniffin and applied some of the teaching tactics he taught us to this class. Following each lesson, Ms. Hinton was ready with a list of things, both positive and negative aspects, regarding the lesson. This form of constructive feedback is extremely valuable to me. She is the veteran teacher and I take every word she says and I apply it to the very next lesson I teach. With her support and input, I can already tell that this experience will improve my teaching abilities vastly!

Day 3 (38) - Wednesday March 23, 2011
Even though I am three days into my placement at Ridge Elementary School, it is still proving to be a rather tedious transition and adjustment. This does not include the difference in age of the students but rather the later start time of the school, the increased workload of class periods, change in scenery/coworkers, and transport to the high school at the end of the day. However this will all hopefully fade as I continue my experience here at Ridge. Ms. Hinton and Ms. Rosenthal have both been very welcoming and I am very appreciative of that. It is nice to see the two of them teach together with the combined classes (a much more manageable number of 32 compared to the 50-60 in a high school combined class). With this being day three, Ms. Hinton had me teach three classes today. I taught one combined class, one first grade class, and one adapted physical education class. The two former classes went very well with the first grade class being hailed by Ms. Hinton as my best one yet. However, the adapted physical education class, my first experience since my course at Cortland, proved to be a little more challenging to instruct. There were only five in the class but it was quite a bit to handle. It was easy for students to fall off task or not listen to directions. Transitions proved difficult as well as explanations. Ms. Hinton said I handled it well but I know I can do better. For next time, I know that I need more patience and a stronger game-plan.

Day 4 (39) - Thursday March 24, 2011
On day four at Ridge Elementary School that meant it was time for me to teach four of the seven of Ms. Hinton's classes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Ms. Rosenthal, the other physical education teacher, is up in the intermediate center teaching which leaves all classes in the hands of Ms. Hinton and as of now my hands as well. Each class I would teach and Ms. Hinton would sit back as if she were a fly on the wall observing and taking notes. For the most part, the classes were all very well behaved today. One class of note started off very well but quickly fell off track behaviorally. They began class quietly, finished warm-ups quickly, and listened while I told directions. However, when it can time to play, they were loud and not responsive to some directions. I did my best to get them back on task using negative reinforcement to ween them off the undesirable behaviors by praising the positive. It seemed to work but I still think it could have gone better. Directions and guidelines need to be laid out at the beginning of class and reinforced throughout the class session. Next time, I will be sure to focus on this. On a side note, I had another adapted physical education class today and it went great! The students were very responsive and cooperative with my directions and instruction. Ms. Hinton commended me on a job well done and I look forward my next experience with them!

Day 5 (40) - Friday March 25, 2011
It is the end of the first week at Ridge Elementary School! Surprisingly, this week went extremely quick. It has been quite the fun week. Not but one week ago, I was doing my best to get high school students to get up and jog around the gym and now I am trying to get students to focus so we can get to their favorite games and activities. In the high school, physical activity seemed to be a punishment and sitting out was a blessing. It's totally opposite in the elementary school. The students just want to play! Due to having less classes and two teachers, I did not max the week out at five classes taught. But rather I taught three. Since it was Friday and the weather was beautiful, the kids were excited for the weekend and to get outside. My main focus was to get them to focus! And it all went pretty well today. I am inching closer and closer to completing my elementary teaching style. I am more animated, goofy, and, most importantly, stern when I need to be. The kids have grown to respect me and Ms. Hinton told me this was the best first week for a student teacher she has had in years! One drawback of the elementary school is the lack of conversation outlets. In the high school, there were 14 teachers and various others who would come to chat. In the elementary school, it's two teachers and the seldom visitor if any. I seem to notice that there is an abundance of female teachers. This is something that I will get adjusted to in time. I look forward to my future weeks here at Ridge Elementary School but first, it's time to head to San Diego!

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