Yesterday was my first day in the classroom. Finally! I was so excited, had no idea what to expect, and was driving myself a little crazy, naturally. I used a bit of artistic release to calm myself down and made this “About Me” poster! Usually on your first day student teaching, you don’t do a lesson or anything, you just spend the whole time helping out, getting to know the everyone, and getting a feel for your school. But I didn’t want to arrive completely empty-handed, I wanted to have a little something prepared, so I put this poster together with some scrapbooking paper I bought.
I have “USA” and “Vermont” in the green box to tell them about where I am from. Then I have the apple to show that I am going to be a teacher some day, and a book with “AUT” on it to show that I am a student, too! In the star are some of my interests: yoga, running, cooking, writing, and singing. Then on the bottom I wrote, “I can’t wait to meet YOU!” I figured I could use it to introduce myself, and they could hang it in their room. You know, so they don’t forget about me 😉
As you know by my last post, I was a little late getting to the bus stop in the morning. But guess who was even later? The bus! I planned on taking the 8:01 bus to give myself plenty of time to be there by 8:30, but the next bus didn’t come until 8:15. Luckily I am one patient optimist! I convinced myself that there was nothing I could do about a late bus but to make sure I apologized like a saint when I got there, and plan for the earlier bus next time.
The bus dropped me off at 8:35 so I was only a few minutes late. When I got to my classroom, my associate teacher wasn’t even there, anyway! I waited outside for a moment, watching all the shoeless students running around, and pretty soon she showed up.
She apologized for forgetting my name, and I apologized for being late. Lol! I explained about the bus, but she insisted that it was not a problem. She just went on and on about how lucky they are to have me.
We really hit it off. We have the same sense of humor and a similar philosophical approach to teaching (though I admit, I’m still creating mine!). She seemed so eager to teach me, and I’m sure she can tell how eager, passionate, and enthusiastic I am to learn!
The first thing that happens after the morning bell is the 7 Minute Run. Everyone gathers outside and runs around the school yard for seven minutes. It’s the job of the teachers to make sure they stay on the path and keep running. I had such a fun time cheering them on. I was yelling at them to “run fast like bunnies!” and “keep moving those legs!” and of course word of encouragement like, “you can do it!” “keep it up” and “nice form!” Sometimes I think I would make a great gym teacher what with my passion for fitness, energy, and enthusiasm.
After the run we had Maths and they did some group work. Here in New Zealand, they mostly group their students based on ability, so each of the groups had an appropriately challenging activity. I went around and asked some students to show me what they were doing and offer help.
Basically, they did different activities for addition and subtraction. Right now, the students either use a “Counting on” strategy for addition (starting from one) or a “Counting from” strategy (starting from the first number in the problem) by using little counters. I was able to help one student in particular by encouraging them to teach me, which peaked their interest and made them more excited to show what they had mastered. It also allowed me to ask questions about their process without making it sound like a test. I just pretended to be confused!
Note: On this blog I will not be discussing individual students for confidentiality reasons. I will only be discussing my plans, instruction, and thoughts on my teaching. Not necessarily the class.
After Maths we had Morning Tea. The students had free time to play outside, and I chilled in the teacher’s lounge, with a cup of tea, of course.
After morning tea we had some very special visitors…
One of the student’s Mum brought in their dog’s new litter of puppies. First, we had a Q&A session. The children asked all kinds of questions about the puppies and their mom, Tiki, and I recorded all the questions. Do they have teeth? Do they have claws? Can they bark? When were they born? What are their names? and so on. Then, it was time to hold the puppies!
Four children were allowed to play with the puppies at a time and the rest of the children had to sit at their desks and practice their handwriting: TTT TTT TTT iii iii iii kkk kkk kkk Tiki Tiki Tiki
That’s my teacher with the puppies. I am using the “heads chopped off” method for confidentiality.
I was so impressed the children’s behavior. They were so gentle and calm when they held the puppies. They stroked them so softly and sweetly kissed their little heads. The students who were waiting were unearthly quiet and patient.
I even got to hold one! After they finished their handwriting assignment, the children began to write a reflection on how the puppies made them feel. My teacher reminded them to keep their audience in mind, to remember that they were writing so that someone who wasn’t there could learn about the puppies. “They were the stars of the class.” “They were cuter than anything you could imagine.” “They were as soft as a ball of wool.” “I liked when it was licking me.” I wrote some constructive comments. I wasn’t supposed to correct the writing, but positively reinforce the self-expression and descriptions.
After writing, we went on another break. Life is good.
After break, the class did some choral reading of poetry. My teacher had big, fun posters and then read along together. They learned a new poem about a wolf accompanied by an excellent wolf impression from one of the kids. There are no wolves in New Zealand.
After our 40-minute lunch, there was SSR: Silent Sustained Reading. The teacher had to be out of the classroom, so I watched over them. There was some chatter, so I said, “Excuse me! This is SSR. Show me what silent reading is like.” They quieted right down. This American girl means business.
After lunch was the best part of the day! I got to introduce myself! I sat in the chair and told them about cold, snowy Vermont. I told them about how I would be teaching them, but they would be teaching me too since I am training to become a teacher. They wanted to hang my poster up front and center in the classroom. 🙂 I told them some of my interests and let them ask questions.
My teacher turned this into a learning opportunity. Each child was to ask me a question, then write a full sentence about what they learned from my answer. They would be making a fact board about Miss Jenkins. Here is what they learned about me:
- What is your favorite food? Vegetables and cookies–that’s another work for biscuits!
- What is your favorite color? Guess. Purple? You bet!
- What is yoga? A type of exercise that makes you strong and flexible through a series of different poses. I can show you one day!
- When did you know you wanted to be a teacher? Every since Year 1.
- When did you start singing? Always! But I joined my first choir in Year 6.
- What’s your favorite sport? Tennis or volleyball. But I also love to run!
- What’s your favorite bird? Probably an Eagle or a Hawk, though America doesn’t have nearly as many birds as New Zealand!
- What’s your favorite animal? A dog, but I also love cows.
- Have you ever seen cow poop? Yes, there are lots of farms in Vermont!
- Do you have any brothers or sisters? An older brother called David and a younger sister called Samantha.
- What’s your favorite fruit? It’s a tie between bananas and raspberries.
- What’s your favorite book? Harry Potter!
Then the best question, “are you a vegetarian?” I said, “that’s a very good question! Yes! Why did you ask that?” and they responded, “because I didn’t know!” I was so happy, because one of my favorite quotes is, “If you don’t know something, ASK!”
After they wrote their sentences, they showed me the dance patterns they had made up for fitness. It was so cute, and they were having so much fun!
Then they went home. The day flew by! I just wanted to come back tomorrow, but its just once a week for me. My teacher and I spent a long time planning and talking about the class. Luckily, I know a lot about Autism, and she doesn’t know much, so I can teacher her a lot, too! She wants me to be really involved, which is going to be an amazing opportunity for me. This is going to be an awesome 12 weeks.