From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Student Teachers

Monday, December 19, 2016

IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING CHICAGO SEMESTER, DO IT!!!


Samantha Woldman - Hayt Elementary
As my time in Chicago comes to an end, I just want to highlight some of the wonderful experiences I have been blessed enough to partake in while in Chicago. My time this semester has been consumed mainly with student teaching. That being said, I would like to give you a brief recap of my time in Chicago! Truly, this time has been the most challenging season of my life. However, this semester also served as a time of intense personal and professional growth.

Chicago Semester for me, has meant pushing myself when I was unsure of what comes next. This semester has been a formative time in my life. I was pressed to pursue work, friends, and life in the city all within a few months’ time.  This challenged me because I am a naturally introverted individual. This information, is invaluable when entering the program. Going in, I imagined a semester that would promote growth and understanding, however I could never have imagined the outcome of this semester. I feel that in the last 4 months I have learned more about myself, the relationships I'm involved in, and being a professional, than I have in any other chapter of college. So please, consider Chicago, consider yourself, and be ready for the opportunity to discern your experiences.  

Additionally, when entering student teaching, I was ready to engage with a fourth grade group of students. Little did I know that over the course of the semester, this class would soon become my “babies!”  For me, fourth grade seemed too old, however as I look at them now, I would never change my experience. These wonderful students bring me to tears on a weekly basis. I have truly found and served such a loving student body while working at Hayt. My students built me up each day and they press me to be better and grow. I would not trade my placement or time in Chicago with these wonderful, glorious, wise, and empowering students.


Due to the constant motion of my time in Chicago, I have really learned the importance of community. In Chicago my community was a small group of people that I could turn to at all points to guide me through difficult situations. These people include, my family, my boyfriend, and my wonderful roommate Jess. Without this constant group pouring into me, this semester would not be possible. Each person in my community played a vital role in keeping me sane this semester. From yelling with me at midnight when we found out we would not be striking, to numerous late night texts and phone calls. To these people, and many more in my community, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without my community in Chicago I would not have made it. That being said, if you are considering Chicago do it! Do it, but find your community. That may not be a large group, it may only be a few, but find those with similar views as you, and really support and build one another up. Do it!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

EXPLORATION, ELECTION, EDTPA, AND EXHAUSTION

Sam Woldman - Hayt Elementary

Hello Folks,

The past few weeks of my semester have been jam packed with adventures and activities. I have been scrambling to complete assignments and the edTPA, visiting friends in Michigan, and exploring further what it means to be a student teacher in an urban setting. My weeks here in the city of Chicago are dwindling, however the busyness continues. As this semester progresses, I continue to reflect on my experiences here in Chicago. Below are a few of my reflections from the past two weeks.
First, and most importantly, student teaching. Student teaching is the reason I am in Chicago, and part of the reason for my exhaustion. Though student teaching is a wonderful experience, it is not an easy task. Each week for class with my wonderful, loving, and generous fourth graders, I prepare 25 lesson plans, and countless resources. Needless to say, this experience has stretched me more than my schooling leading up to this has prepared me for. It feels as though my mind is constantly running in 12 different directions, while I attempt to juggle multiple tasks. That being said, if you know me, you know I got a B in kinesiology in college for not being able to juggle. That should help you to visualize how the semester is going.

All joking aside, student teaching has just been a simply wonderful experience. This week in my classroom I was able to speak with the diverse population of students and  have the pleasure of teaching about the presidential election. The students, 98% of whom are considered minorities in this nation, feared the outcome of the election, unsure of what this could mean for their futures. After a time of discussion, lament, and reflection, my students were better able to process their many emotions. This opportunity, though avoided by some, presented a wonderful opportunity in the classroom to speak about respect, justice and love for all people in our nations, including those who don’t often show these values. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to speak openly with passionate fourth graders about topics that resonate so close to the hearts of many in our country. Someday, I know my students will teach my generation what it means to love and serve justly.
Moving away now from the student teaching aspect of Chicago semester, an amazing thing happened this week… I completed my edTPA! This multistep assessment has been a constant burden on most of the student teachers in Illinois.  Completing question after question on this assessment seems tedious, and takes time away from what we all want to be doing, bettering ourselves for our students. All this being said, having the edTPA completed alleviates much of the stress and exhaustion that has been weighing on me recently.

Have no fear, these last few weeks of student teaching haven’t been all deadlines and requirements. I managed to squeeze socialization and exploration into my schedule as well. Last weekend I had the opportunity to bring my roommate Jess on her first visit to Michigan, where I go to school. While visiting Michigan, we visited friends, explored apple orchards, and crunched fall leaves (a task I have greatly missed since being in Chicago.) This break from the city, and many of the requirements that needed to be completed, allowed an opportunity to recharge. This was much needed after the busiest two weeks of student teaching yet!

Until next time,
Sam

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween Frights

Sam Woldman - Hayt Elementary 

As Halloween rolls around, costumes, scary things, and decorations have been occupying the minds of many of the students at Hayt. This Friday at school, the students and teachers were asked to dress up as their favorite story character. Many students came dressed as Harry Potter, Superheros, and other famous book characters. As someone who loves a good spirit day, I began thinking of what some of my favorite stories growing up were. After some brainstorming I decided, I was going to be The Giving Tree.
Paper Bag Princess and the Giving Tree

Friday morning I walked decorated all in leaves (made out of paper) into my classroom. My lovely fourth grade students quizzically asked, “What are you?” These questions lead me to, at the end of the day, share the story with my students, many of whom had never heard it before. The students listened attentively as the story was read, clinging on to every word. Their eyes teared as they heard the end of the story, they were amazed how willing the tree was to give to her friend.  Excited and eager that they could share, and better understand my costume, they all declared how wonderful it was or how they wanted to be the giving tree next year.

Scary things, however are not just filling the minds of the students in my fourth grade classroom. My mind is occupied by something recently that is even scarier then ghost, clowns or any other villain. EdTPA. The deadline for the edTPA, the teacher assessment required by Chicago Semester and the state of Illinois, is creeping ever closer. Within the next two weeks this assessment will be turned in. This test deadline, though tolerable, is frightening to me because it is a brand new concept. I am unfamiliar with this test, as I go to college in Michigan, where this is not required. However just as the spookiness of Halloween will pass, in two weeks, so will the fear and fright accompanying the edTPA.

Due to the impending doom (due date) of the edTPA, this week has been busier than normal, that being said I have not had many opportunities to go out and explore the city. However, each week Friday, Jess and I normally go out to eat after school as an end of the week celebration. This week we did that, stopping to grab some frozen yogurt at the shop right down the street. This small treat, plus the nap that followed, made for a wonderful start to the weekend.

Happy Halloween Weekend,


Sam