I woke up bright and early this morning to run, and guess what??? Run, I did! I was gone for about 40 minutes and though I had to walk a lot (it’s amazing how quickly I fall out-of-shape) I think I ran for at least 15 minutes of it. My muscles were tired, but there was absolutely no joint pain. I’ll take it! I would also like to share that I was very hot and sweaty.
I know, family, that I just warned you about how cold and rainy it would be when you arrive. I guess just be prepared for the unexpected!
Since my run was successful and I was feeling pretty on-to-of-the-world, I cracked down and chugged out my final reflection paper on my practicum. I’ve copied it below, in case you are interested Then, continuing the productive-ness, I went to the library to print out my Maths assignment, which occurred without a hitch (well, on my part. Hannah had some difficulties. There’s always something at that place!) Now I am that much closer to being on summer vacation! I just need to study for and take my Maori culture final on Friday….
It’s 10:30am at this point and it hits me: I had not had my coffee OR oatmeal yet!!! I guess my early AM dates gave me all the nourishment and power I needed…up until then lol. Not one to skip I meal, I whipped up a simple bowl of apple oatmeal…without peanut butter!!! Shocking, I know. Our tub is dwindling and frankly, I didn’t need it. It was deliciously simple. I might even try oatmeal without any fruit soon! But that seems just a little too carb-y. I feel like I’ll need fruity nutrients? Rambling. Sorry.
Very soon after my fundamentalist bowl of oatmeal, I had lunch because, well, it was lunchtime! And I was hungry! Running makes me hungry I quickly sauteed some of the leftover chopped veggies (mushrooms, peppers, and onions) from last night, which I plopped on top of a piece of toast with sundried tomato hummus.
That hummus is to DIE for. Seriously, the taste is out-of-this-world. I can’t right now, but I’ll snap a photo of the package tomorrow so y’all can go buy it. Of course, and of it was all on top of some lettuce!
Scrumptious! After lunch, I had my last education class, during which we talked about Montessori schools (a type of schooling system that, at least for maths, uses solely tactile materials to teach concepts). Several unbelievable things happened during class today.
- We had a guest speaker talking to us about the Montessori schools, and at times she would ask us to gather around a table to watch a demonstration. Well, some of the NZ biddies just stayed in their seats, chatting and dicking (language–sorry but I am disgruntled) around on their laptops.
- I was watching a demonstration from my chair, and one of them stood DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME. Literally, his ass (again, pardon my French) was in my face.
- We had to read a handout and then discuss with out groupmates what we thought were the most important things. Well, as my group started discussing, one of the biddiest of the NZ biddies shushed me!!!!
Unbelievable on so many levels. What did I do? Continued to be the good student and respectful classmate that I am. And felt very righteous for it.
On the bus home, my friends Rose and Becca told Hannah and I about this awesome pancake place they discovered, right by the bus stop. I didn’t need much convincing to tag along for a post-class snack
For just nz$3 a pancake, Hannah and I decided to split a chocolate one.
There they are, sliding about in the oil!
Hot + ready = excited girls!
Two words: yum and wow. It sort of tasted like funnel cake-meet-chocolate chip pancake. I can only pray that this doesn’t become a habit. Thanks for introducing me, Rose and Becca!
When I got home, I did some logistical work on my computer, then promptly started cooking. Dreading another night of stir-fry, I convinced my self that I could make tomato risotto with brown rice and the (ghastly) tomato paste still in the fridge. I started by sauteeing two cloves of garlic with as much of the Italian Herb Paste as I could squeeze out (running on empty!). Then, I added the tomato paste and some soymilk. There was WAY too much garlic! I never thought I’d see the day. Hannah had the great idea of adding some veggies, so she shredded half a carrot as I added more and more soymilk. We just kept adding and tasting until finally, we nailed it!
With the rice, it made an nearly perfect combination! For a few minutes there, I thought the meal was a destined failure, but with a little teamwork, we made it happen!
What was your latest triumphant kitchen experiment?
Here is my final reflection on my NZ school placement, in case you are interested. It’s a sorta formal write-up for my professor back at UVM, so it focuses mostly on the technical teacher stuff.
I have learned a lot from my placement here in New Zealand, but there are two things that will leave a lasting impression: grouping by ability and Guided Reading. The entire numeracy and literacy programs in my class have essentially been set up with ability groups and small-group instruction. There are rarely mixed-ability groups, which at first I thought would create a stigma of the “lowest” or “best” group, but the instructional benefits outweigh those issues. It is much easier to create lessons that are geared toward individuals, it is easier to track progress, and it provides developmentally appropriate instruction. All of which benefits their learning. In literacy, the teacher-guided small ability-group lessons are called “Guided Reading” sessions. Guided reading is a great way to teach literacy by ability because you can read a book together at the students’ level and take the time to go over the bits you want to focus on. Plus, in the small group, students will feel secure enough to take risks and ask questions.
Dominion Road Primary school had a very effective and well-developed behavior management system that I learned a lot from. The vice principal, Brenda, taught me everything in our interview. They use antecedent strategies to prevent behaviors, which I think is key to preventing bad behaviors from happening. By making the behavior expectations clear and setting up a positive, supportive environment, then students won’t need to act out. Behavior problems will always occur, and I have learned two strategies for dealing with them. For menial misbehavior, it is good to ask the students if they are making a good choice. This gives them the power to change their own behavior and show you that they know what is good behavior. A major conflict can be solved by debriefing the situation with the student(s) involved. A fair, supportive conversation about a management issue is the most diplomatic way to address problems and it gives students tools to use those same strategies to solve their own problems in the future. In addition, I learned the importance of balancing the lesson and school day with individual work, group work, whole-class instruction, and free time so that students stay on-task. Even better, I did not find any discrepancies in my research and Responsive Classroom readings about American styles of behavior management. Kids are kids, anywhere in the world.
Though my mentor teacher has given me a lot of praise, I still would like to work on a few things before student teaching. For example, I want to make sure that I am continually planning what my next steps will be. It is not only important to assess how the students did with a certain lesson, but it’s even more important to know what to do next to help them move on or get more instruction on something they don’t understand. I also think that I can always be working on understanding the standards and keeping my lessons aligned. It is so difficult with a diverse class, but it’s important to stick to the objectives and make sure that you are teaching the students the appropriate skills and/or content.
Pre-planning my lessons has really helped me feel more confident as a teacher. It helps me to keep the learning objectives in mind as I am teaching, and it gives me an opportunity to plan for my behavior management. When I have prepared the strategies I want to use, it prevents behavior disruptions from getting in the way of my class’s learning. I also think that I need to do a lot of background research when I am planning a lesson. I need to be prepared for the types of questions that my class might ask me about a certain topic we are reading about. I want to make sure that I have enough background knowledge to contribute to their learning and inspire their curiosity. I would also like to work on planning what to do if a lesson takes a completely different turn. For example, if the students are completely lost or over-confident during the warm up, I would want to plan some alternative activities to do in case I feel like the lesson would not be worthwhile.
It has been really exciting to notice my role as a teacher change throughout the beginning of this semester. I am doing more full-block teaching than I ever thought I would be allowed to do at this stage. At first, I just lead parts of a lesson or a transition into a break. Now I am doing all of that and more! Its been really helpful to feel that independence, and the corresponding responsibility, because now I have much more of an idea of what it will be like to have the class for the entire day. I have also become much more of a legitimate assessor. I used to think that I could just observe assessment because I wasn’t qualified enough to actually conduct them and have the results count for something; but now, after the TGMI and all of my running records, I feel like I am equipped with the knowledge to make comprehensive assessments on students.
When I think about the past semester, I feel really good about my overall style of teaching. I think that my priorities really shined through. My number one goal to being a good teacher is to get to know each of my students as a person, and I feel like I really did that with my class. It certainly helped my instruction to be more individualized since I knew their interests, weaknesses, and gifts. My teacher gave me a lot of feedback about how my caring, compassionate nature and positivity created a non-threatening environment where students felt comfortable and even excited to learn. That was my main goal, so I’m glad that I accomplished it!
My next steps in my process of becoming a teacher is to really look at inquiry learning and how to integrate it into my numeracy and literacy programs. I want to do more research about science and social studies that I can easily incorporate into my literacy programs (with things such as magazines) and my numeracy program (with things such as science experiments). My school in New Zealand focused a lot on fitness, music, and art, but the core curriculum was rarely tied into it. I’m excited to discover ways to make for more wholesome, realistic learning experiences. I also think it would be helpful to get to know the US standards like the back of my hand, since, compared to the New Zealand standards, they are really logical and essential for driving instruction.
Honestly, the most important thing that I will take away from this experience is my class. I will never forget my little class full of Kiwi children. I will never forget their little accents and how they “corrected” my pronunciation and spelling. I will never forget about how eager they were to learn more about America and to teach me about New Zealand. I will never forget how sweetly nurturing they were when they learned that I lost my grandmother. I will never forget the relationships I made with them, and it makes me sad that in a few weeks, I will be half a world away from them. But, as they remind me with song, we all live on “Just One Earth” and we will always be connected.