Monday, April 11, 2011

Before You Leave for Spring Break, Let's Learn Some History!

Day 11 (46) - Monday April 11, 2011

Since we are doing the President's Challenge test preparation, I figured that this could be a good opportunity to teach the students about some of the Presidents of the United States. Unlike the physical education teacher in The Simpsons, I will be much more patient and not penalize incorrect answers! I decided to incorporate the 'President of the Day' into each lesson. I would select a President who had contributed to the field of fitness in some way and also focus on some of the lesser known Presidents in order to expand the students' knowledge. The first candidate was President Dwight D. Eisenhower (34th). What makes President Eisenhower special in the field of fitness is not simple his athletic days at West Point. President Eisenhower was the man who developed the President's Council on Youth Fitness in 1956 (currently known at the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition). Having noticed that European children were healthier and more physically fit than American children, Eisenhower established the council which would eventually create the President's Challenge under Lyndon B. Johnson's Presidency. I feel that it is important for these children to not simply perform the content but also to understand why they are performing it and how the program came to be. Throughout the unit, I will look for more ways to incorporate these teachable moments.

Day 12 (47) - Tuesday April 12, 2011
Nothing says you're struggling as a teacher until a kindergarten student flips you off. Needless to say, I addressed the situation and discovered that she did not know what the gesture meant and was only mimicking what she had seen others do outside of school. Needless to say this was a minor, unimportant issue that I simply laughed off after school. However, there I did not have control of the students in that same class. They were noisy, unruly, and, as Ms. Hinton said to me afterward, they were in control of the class at certain points. This was truly the first time I sat a class down and let them know how upset I was with them and disappointed in their actions. Generally, I tend not to hand out consequences unless students are blatantly not following directions. Due to their overbearing and disrespectful actions, I had to sit them about and talk to them about respect and my role as a teacher. I am there to teach them not to play with them. Due to this we were unable to perform all of the exercises, however, it was the faults of both parties. From this session, I know that I must begin to lay out expectations and potential consequences or rewards immediately at the beginning of class (this is what I want... if you do it we can play this... if you do not then this will happen...). In order to get the respect of the students, I need to be personable, but also authoritative.

Day 13 (48) - Wednesday April 13, 2011
As we had reached the middle of the week, I was met with a surprise when I arrived at school in the morning. Ms. Hinton had an appointment in the middle of the day and would only be in school up until noon. She requested that I not stay with a substitute as she did not want me to interact with the students without her guidance and gave me permission to leave. After consideration, I accepted the offer to leave. After all, I would not receive adequate feedback otherwise and the safety of the children was a priority. I only taught one class today and it proved to be a rather successful one. We were able to run outside and complete all of our exercises. However, the students were a little noisy which caused me to switch unconsciously into authoritative mode in order to regain their attention. After class Ms. Hinton said that I am now focusing too much on the consequences and discipline. She discovered me identifying kids for the smallest errors and waiting for the class to become 'perfect' before continuing. In order to be a successful and effective teacher, I must find an even balance for disciplinary measures and the flow and control of the class. Otherwise, I will lean too far to one side and the students will be negatively impacted.

Day 14 (49) - Thursday April 14, 2011
After a rainy Wednesday, Thursday proved to be the day the school was able to hold their 'unity day'. This outdoor assembly generally ran over the allotted time and one of the classroom teachers asked Ms. Hinton if she could have their physical education class later in the day. Therefore the first class of the day would start a little later. With a ring of the phone, we discover Terry Phelan, my college supervisor, dropped by for an observation. With my assigned classes not starting until later in the day, I taught a different class for my observation. I had not taught this particular class before, however, I had observed them and it was generally a well-behaved and respectful kindergarten class. This would be their first day running outside so I had a little bit to explain in the introduction. They all listened intently and were excited to go back outside. This was the first class of the week to run the correct route outdoors for the quarter-mile! I made sure I gave explicit directions and they seemed to have understood it fully. Overall, I would say this was my best teaching experience at Ridge Elementary. Afterward, Terry said "they all had their eyes glued on you and I think you may have found where you should be." This was an excellent start to the day and carried over into the other classes.

Day 15 (50) - Friday April 15, 2011
Friday. The last day before spring break. The students were excited about getting out of school and going on vacation. However, it was still my job to make them physically fit before they left! One student said it best during an introduction, "we need to listen to the teacher because we are still in school and we need to get strong." This set the tone for many of the classes and had gotten the children excited about the day. It was beautiful out so we were able to go outside and run the quarter-mile during each class. However, that one statement from earlier in the day did not carry over to all classes. Friday is generally full of kindergarten classes and they get easily distracted. Talking in little whispers became a big issue both inside and outside. From my experiences earlier in the week, I knew I had to be firm with them and hand out discipline where appropriate. I had learned that with regularly mentioning the amount of time remaining, and the possibility of losing a paw print or game, it refocuses the students. However, I need to develop a means to never let them lose focus at all. The creative story lessons have been working, but now I think it's time for more props and word selection to full immerse the students. Ms. Hinton said that all student teachers hit a rough stretch of the road but it clears up quickly once you regain control of the wheel.

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