Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Week 2: Student Teaching

Wow! I am loving my student teaching experience so far. The more I get to know my cooperating teacher, and the more I work with the students, the more confident I am becoming. It feels great to spend time making art with children all day. I couldn't ask for a better job! I am learning that it takes a lot of work behind the scenes (not a surprise, just a realization of how much work!) but I am really finding joy in it.

Yesterday I taught the first graders for the second time. Last Friday I worked with them and did a demonstration of how to draw pigs. Because we are on a rotation schedule, this was my first time working with this specific first grade class. I got to introduce a lesson about drawing chickens, and worked with students to understand the basic shapes that make up a chicken. I tried to show them multiple examples to allow them to choose which way they can draw a chicken. My cooperating teacher has taught me that this helps create diversity within the student artwork, especially for the youngest students. Many of the students liked the way I demonstrated drawing (with a circle for a body and a long neck) but there were many students who looked at the student and teacher examples on the board and used them for inspiration (these included a crescent shaped body). I was surprised that they knew the word, "crescent". The best part of working closely with the students is learning their developmental levels and abilities. Each class has a range of these, so it is great to really sense which children are where. Here are some examples of the awesome work they did!

Yesterday went by so quickly that I didn't realize that it was the end of the day! My schedule for the day is quite fun, we have a prep hour from 8:00 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. which makes the rest of the day go by extremely quickly (and is a lot of work because there is no other breaks!) Even our lunch period is spent with children to finish up art projects, but if we want to take a break, all we need to do is tell the students. The students at the elementary school are really great children, and have a lot of respect for Ms. R. I am so thankful to be put with such a great teacher.

Ms. R. really wants to push me to start implementing, planning, and teaching lessons, which is a great feeling. I am confident in my abilities to teach students right now, but I am nervous to take over head weeks too quickly. I want to try to teach one to two of my edTPA lessons (three lessons surrounding a specific 1st grade class that I chose to work with) before I take on my head weeks. This way, I won't feel as stressed out as a head teacher, or while I am attempting to video tape myself and reflect on my teaching practices. The more I can reflect on serious teaching strategies before my head weeks, the better teacher I will be during them!

As I was teaching the first graders yesterday, I thought there were some things that I could have improved:
  • I should have made sure that I covered ALL of the instructions I wanted the students to follow. I wrote a lesson plan for the quick lesson, but I forgot to discuss the idea of using the oil pastels to blend two colors together. This will be something I want to show the other two classes!
  • I should have had a system in place to allow the first graders to go get their background papers. I didn't want to say "Okay, go!" So I counted off five students at a time to get papers. While we were waiting (which was about thirty seconds or so) I would ask them what type of chickens they would draw, which examples they liked and so on. Tomorrow, I hope to get out the past project (pigs) and look at the names on the backs of the papers to tell certain students to go work on their chicken or finish their pig. One student came up to me and said "I didn't finish my pig! Can I work on it first?" I thought to myself "How come I didn't think to finish the pigs from last time?". Thank goodness for that student, or I would have forgotten to do it again!
There was also some things that I thought I did well:
  • Although I want to get through the demonstration quickly, I made sure to engage the students by asking them what they thought the next step would be. I also asked the students for advice on colors, what background I should draw and so on. 
    • One student wanted the chicken to be in the woods! I asked her why would the chicken be in the woods? She didn't know, so I told her, "Maybe the chicken crossed to road to get to the woods!" Boy, I thought I was so funny and made myself giggle. The students were too young to really understand the joke, so I felt a little silly!
Today was a snow day (or rather, and ice day) for my school and surrounding districts, so i will continue with the lesson plans tomorrow! Today will be spent revising and creating lesson plans as well as tackling some edTPA reflective writing. I am finding that there is a lot to this edTPA and that it is hard to keep track of. Luckily, I have time today to really dive into my weekly tasks created by my program advisor. I think I will make a list of "to do's" for each day of each week! I completed my first task by sending home a photo and video release form for permission to video record in the classroom as I teach my edTPA lessons. This is a requirement of the edTPA, so I hope that all of the parents are fine with it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Student Teaching!

It has been awhile since I posted, BUT today was my first day of student teaching! I got placed at an elementary school with an amazing cooperating teacher for my first nine weeks and placed with another amazing high school art teacher for my second nine weeks. After this experience, I will be applying for licensure as a K-12 Art Educator and open teaching positions for the fall of 2013. Wow!

I am also working with my University to pilot the new EdTPA system, which is a teacher's performance assessment that will be mandatory for all student teachers to pass before receiving their license to teach in any discipline in the near future. Myself and a student in Early Childhood Education will be experiencing this together, and will be working closely with our advisors and the School of Education to do the best we can! I can't wait to write about the successes and struggles of my experience and how they relate to both the edTPA and life as a student teacher. I hope to help out as many others in my position as possible, especially those in the future that I am piloting this for. Wish me luck.

As for the edTPA, it will be a lot more writing and a bit more analyzing of lesson plans, videos of presenting lessons and engaging students, and assessment procedures. By the end of this, I should have written about forty-plus pages of reflections, planning and assessment. I'm excited to see what happens! There is a lot on my plate with all of these new responsibilities, but nothing that is too scary. Plus, I have some great art educators on my side!

Speaking of which, my cooperating teacher at the elementary school, Ms. R, is pretty great. Today I got to watch her in action and saw how she ran her classroom. Although I do not have the system down quite yet, I know that I will be able to get into the swing of things soon enough! I set up five folders for art projects that I will accumulate throughout this experience, which is unbelivably helpful. She has some great ways for me to really get the most out of this experience, especially since she has had over 20 student teachers. (I think I'm her 23rd or 24th or something crazy!)  One of  my classmates just finished up with her last Friday, and had a great experience. Ms. R keeps calling me by the name of the other student teacher because we are so close together.

The students warmed up to me pretty well and were excited to see that they have a new helper in the room. I am anxious to get to know them more and really have a relationship and rapport in my classroom. It should be a fun experience! More to come on my first day experience soon!