week 4 monday
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Living at home in Peoria and substitute teaching. I rotate between 4 grade schools.  It did not take long to get established, and I have been pretty much full time since summer.  I am at two schools most of the time and will be taking over a long term subbing position mid-February in 4th grade at one. The teacher is great and very organized. We have met many times while awaiting her baby, and I feel overly prepared to take over her class. Excited to have the same classroom everyday. Teachers tell me how great I am doing—maybe from my loud voice in the classroom or just from word of mouth. I am keeping my fingers crossed that an opening will develop. It is a tough district to get into (they have up to 500 applicants per opening), but I am hoping I now have an "in," having gotten to know all of the principals through subbing.

To back track. I applied everywhere around the Peoria area but only had two interviews this summer—for a reading specialist position and first or third grades at one school.  I was one of 3 finalists but didn't get the job. The first grade was for a "bubble" teacher—the teacher hired would be moving up grade levels with the class because it was larger than all of the others, but I am certified through third. Coincidentally, I just received a call yesterday from this school and they asked if I would be interested in taking over a maternity leave this spring. The principal said I had been on her mind since my interview and they would love to have my in their district so keep my eyes open for positions. Nice to hear that she remembered me!

  A word of advice for the new cohort: Don’t be discouraged—jobs are HARD to come by in some areas.  Subbing is an awesome alternative, and I actually believe I will be even more prepared now when I have my own classroom.  I have gotten experience in all grades and have still kept very busy.  It has really been a blessing in disguise. (Briana, 10)

How are you doing? The past 2 1/2 years of teaching have been great.  I've had my share of challenges, but I've loved working in the classroom.  I've spend the last 2 1/2 years at Oakwood Grade School (where I student taught) in the Early Childhood Special Education classroom.  A kindergarten teacher is retiring, and I have been granted my request to transfer to that position.  I've loved my current spot in ECSE, but I'm excited for a change of pace next year. Rachel (Jones) George 09
  • your challenge is to construct a laboratory for learning—sufficiently broad and varied to challenge a range of interests an abilities, and yet focused enough to offer kids some coherent rhythms and goals
environment more than the physical—a complex living mix of values, beliefs, and expectations
    • 2 schools, 2 classrooms identical physically can provide markedly different environments for kids (teachers)
  • most important environment is not visible, not physical.
  • most important environment is invisible, not seen but felt—the values, attitudes, beliefs, expectations—what is accessible, what is not, and so on
environmental goals
  • what values and attitudes do we want children to learn:
    • for life
    • this school year
    • this month, etc.
  • how can we make these values and attitudes part of the environment?
constructing an environment for becoming a teacher (ideas from Bill Ayers)
  • practice: take many risks, make many mistakes
  • surround yourself with people you can talk with
  • read teachers, e.g., Paley
  • stay alive in your mind as an adult: develop passions and continue to pursue them
  • explore the invisibility of good teaching
  • build a strong relationship with your Mentor; direct her/him to be a better Mentor; look at the classroom together
  • take moral responsibility for your education
  • don’t ask kids to do what you don’t do, e.g., make a summer reading list, and read the books
  • not only realistic to hope, necessary to hope
Things are good over here.  Busy, busy, busy!  I am in my second year teaching full-day kindergarten at the same district. The second year is SO much better than the first year—but definitely not any less stressful! Classroom management is still one of the hardest parts for me, but I am definitely improving with the help of my kindergarten team and administrators. The kids are why I get up in the morning. They are the best part of my day.  Watching them learn and grow and knowing that I had a hand in it is the most amazing feeling ever!

I'm also coaching a high school JV and varsity dance/pom team close to my school.  It takes up a lot of time, but I LOVE sharing my dance background!  It's a nice change to work with 5 year olds all day and then go work with high school students—although working with teenage girls makes me never want to have one of my own!  We placed first in our last two competitions!

I am in the process of applying for a grad school cohort that starts this spring.  It's for a reading specialist degree.  I'll know in a few weeks if I'm accepted!  I never intended on going back to school so soon, but this opportunity kind of fell in to my lap and works out well with my schedule!

I'm also living on my own this year.  My mom, step dad, brother, and sister are in Texas now, but my Dad is still here.  I got my own place in July and am loving living by myself!  I definitely miss my family, but I like having my own space!  Managing money and payments is definitely a learning experience in itself!

Rachel Friedman, 10

diary of novice teacher cont. (Scooter, March 10)
  • We were doing an exercise. I asked one kid for the answer. The answer he gave was incorrect, but I wrote it on the board and asked, “Does everyone have this equation and this answer?” A bunch of them answered yes so I repeated, “Everyone please respond. Do you have this equation and answer?” The entire class responded in unison, “Yes, Professora!” I said, “Well this answer is wrong. It’s too bad that every single person in my class had the wrong answer!” Then a few people began to sheepishly say, “Well, I have a different answer…” I asked, “Who here has an answer different than the one I wrote on the board?” Half the class raised their hands! “You guys! I asked if you had this answer and you ALL said ‘yes’ even though half of you didn’t! It’s not enough for you to just sit there and say ‘yes’ every time the teacher asks you a question. If you have a different answer, have the courage to say so! The same goes for when I ask you if you understand. I am not asking because I want to hear to say ‘yes’; I am asking because I really want to know if you understand or not. Is this clear?” They all responded, “Yes, Professora!” And then everyone (including me) giggled. Damn! I should have phrased the question differently.
the challenge (for you & the kids)
  • understanding a never-ending process
  • once we see something one way, most difficult for us to see it another way
  • learning requires going beyond what we know
    • we find going beyond most difficult
    • learning requires leaving our comfort zone
  • whatever else teaching is, teaching is a conversation. if the conversation is good, learning occurs.
  • if the conversation is bad . . .

in lesson study teachers

  • work to improve the conversation
    • with each other
    • with the kids
  • work to take control of their part in the conversation on teaching
our goals

long-term general

  • awareness of the invisible parts of teaching—the planning, thinking, researching, talking etc

long-term specific

  • planning as details

short-term general

  • observe lessons with a focus on gathering evidence to inform lesson revisions
  • analyze lessons in light of lesson goals

short-term specific

  • critique the lesson plan, not the teacher
  • engage in detailed discussions about instructional strategies (such as questioning techniques, anticipating student responses, and how the lesson flow affects student understanding),