From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Student Teachers

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Student Teaching - Week #13

by Amanda Mast - Curie Metro High School

The sun starting to rise during my commute!
After a week of Spring Break, it was surprisingly nice to be back in the classroom again. Everyone was refreshed, excited, and caught up if they had fallen behind. Things are a bit different, though, because I am starting to phase out of full time teaching. I am supposed to be allowing my cooperating teacher to take back over, but I’m finding it a bit hard to let her do so. I started the week assuming it would be easier and that I would just sit back and work on some of my portfolio work, but I like being involved, and I am finding myself offering to take over the class. Because of break, I don’t have a whole lot to say about my school experience, but in the next few weeks I am planning on going to a volleyball game and a baseball game to support some of my freshman. You can look forward to seeing that in future blogs!

I am struggling to believe that I am nearing the end of student teaching! I don’t even want it to be done. Sure, sleeping again will be nice, but I think I might miss the school more. I’m already having separation issues, so the rest of this experience should be interesting. By interesting, I mean that I am going to be pretty sad. Students are already questioning why I am not doing all of the teaching, and I accidentally told one class that this was my last month. It took a bit to calm them back down again after that, and even though it was a hassle, it was pretty sweet. It’s one of those rewarding perks of teaching.

City Life: Last Friday night, a few of my roommates and I went to Improvised Shakespeare. This was a suggested from a friend of a friend as a “Chicago must-see” and I assumed that since I have a special appreciation for Shakespeare, I would love it. It didn’t disappoint, but it was not what I expected either! The crowd shouted out made up “Shakespearean” play names, one was picked, and the cast created a plot, including soliloquies and rhymes. It was so impressive to see them act on the spot in Elizabethan style! Not everyone in my party appreciated it as much as I did, but the acting and lines were so realistic! I had the best time, and I’m glad my friends are great enough to go with me as I “nerd-out” on literature humor.

My roommate, Emily, and I at U.S. Cellular Field!
Another great perk of living in the city is that you can make last second plans to go to sporting events. I am a Minnesota Twins fan, and I had been watching the ticket prices once I found out they were playing the White Sox. Emily, my roommate here and from back home, and I purchased tickets a few hours before the game at a very reasonable price. The weather was great, and it was so much fun to do something spontaneously, even though the Twins lost pretty badly.  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Student Teaching - Week #11

by Amanda Mast - Curie Metro High School

Skyline from 95th floor of the Hancock Building
Testing is done! It’s crazy how the dynamic of my classes have changed now that everyone is back together again. It’s also nice to have all of my classes in almost the same place again. As a student, I would have never assumed that testing would be such a burden to a teacher, but I have never had to make so many separate plans!

This week I am also finishing up my first full unit! It seemed to take forever, but I had so much fun doing it. We are finishing by creating a “Fakebook,” a Facebook profile for one of the heroes we read over this unit. This changes up the traditional “finish with a paper that tells me what you learned.” After showing them the assignment and showing them my example—Marlin from Finding Nemo, it’s pretty funny, so you should look it up—they seem excited for the change. Maybe they are just excited for Spring Break. Either way they are full of energy and excitement, and that makes going to work that much easier.

Last Friday the Chicago Semester Fall 2015 student teachers came to visit Curie, and we all went out to eat in Pilsen. It was so great to take them around and show them all of the things I have loved about the city: my school, my apartment, Pilsen, and the food! It feels great to show off this wonderful adventure I have been having the past few months! Thank you guys for a great time, and I hope your experiences are as fulfilling as mine has been!

Dinner at Alhambra with roommates
Emily, Hannah, Lindsay & Lauren
This weekend a few of my roommates and I decided to treat ourselves! Friday night, we got all dressed up and went out for National Paella day! We went to Alhambra Palace, a restaurant that mimics the look of the actual Alhambra Palace in southern Spain. Did we pay too much for food? Yes. Was it delicious? Yes! It was worth it! We enjoyed two traditional Spanish appetizers and three main dishes, paella included! The building was so beautiful, colorful, and large! It was an experience we will never forget!

After that, we travelled to the loop to get a gorgeous view of the city in The Signature Lounge. This lounge was on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building. We may have received special treatment when we arrived, for we were taken to a table right up to window. My chair was literally touching the window overlooking miles of Chicago streets. My roommates and I sat in silence, taking in everything. We were to the point of crying, seeing so many places we have been and seeing how large, yet small, the city is. It was the best place to reflect on all of our experiences and memories we have had. Time is going too fast, and we haven’t gotten the chance to just sit and reflect to ourselves.

The city is so large, but when we were looking out the window, you could see of the little communities that have been formed. There is so much more than tall buildings and bustling. We live in our own little community, and I think that is even more beautiful than the lights and tall buildings.

Me and the skyline

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Student Teaching - Week #10

by Amanda Mast - Curie Metro High School

My first week of student teaching, I was talking to someone back home about my first experiences. I believe my exact quote was “I am 100% sure I do not want to be a teacher.” After one week of seeing the stress and behind the scenes teacher work, I made this bold statement. I would have never guessed I would be so wrong. 

This week, I had an epiphany. I am loving the teaching and planning involved. It has been difficult and at times seemed way too stressful to even be considered a job, but the support I have received from back home has kept me going. This week, someone from my hometown sent me a viral video from Ellen of an amazing teacher who has a big heart focused on teaching children. The person who sent it to me simply said that she could see me be this kind of teacher. After watching that video, I realized that was what I wanted to be. All of my heart has been put into these students, and I love talking to them about life just as much as I love teaching them. The video brought me to tears because I was honored that someone would see that in me and because I realized that I am supposed to be a teacher. After the stress and uncertainty of college, realizing that I love what I am doing was the most wonderful feeling. I wish more than anything I could show everyone pictures of my students and tell you my stories about all of them. 

Much of this is thanks to the support I have all around me. From students back at Central, professors, people from my hometown, the teachers I work with now, my roommates, the other student teachers in my program and the school, my parents . . . I could go on forever, no joke. I really want to thank all of you who read my blog and message me right away to say you are thinking about me and that you are proud of me. The fact that I have such a strong support system has gotten me through so many of the hard situations, allowing me to see the beauty of the rest of my experience. Thank you. 

Chicago Symphony Center
I had the most fantastic week in the city as well! Chicago Semester students went to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra featuring Yo-Yo Ma. One of my roommates and I arrived very early, so we had time to explore the orchestra hall. There were so many fun staircases and nooks to find with small, beautiful details. It was fun to get dressed up on a Thursday night, but the true greatness of the night was listening to Yo-Yo Ma play. I don’t know if I will ever see someone who loved music as much as he did again. With my opera binoculars – I borrowed them from a Chicago Semester staff member—I could see so much passion and emotion on his face. This was my favorite art event by far.  The atmosphere, the friends, and the music - It was magical.

With my roommate,
Emily, at the
Chicago Symphony

Another fun, unique thing we did this weekend was go to turtle racing at Big Joe's. Honestly, if someone was to suggest that you could go to a turtle race, wouldn’t you? There was a new race every fifteen minutes.  Turtles would start in the center circle, and after being released, they would move, at their own pace, toward the outside of the circle. Some turtles were really quick and would speed out, but some would stay in the center, taking their own time and taking in their cheering friends. Everyone was yelling and cheering for these turtles who didn’t seem to care. The atmosphere was so light and fun; it was the perfect way to kill stress and end the week.