From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Student Teachers

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Final Stretch

Sarah Schmitt - Cooper Dual Language Academy

This week, students created 3D models of the heart using paper cups, string, scissors, markers, and tape. The students wrapped up the Human Body unit about a week ago so we have decided to focus on the circulatory system this week.

The students enjoyed the opportunity to create their own heart model because it allowed them to use their creativity, apply their previous knowledge about the heart, and work with their peers. It was also a nice break for me, since I didn’t have to talk the whole time and students were able to explore on their own. I’m still trying to find the balance of providing students with structure and modeling as well as giving them the opportunity to think for themselves and discover on their own.

In other news, this week I also attended the fine arts event at the Lookingglass theatre company where they performed Beyond Caring a play about temp workers. It was a little unnerving with all of the loud noises and some of the content, but I enjoyed the performance. It’s always nice to go to the art events to mingle with Chicago Semester students from different programs and catch up with my fellow student teachers later in the week. This week, we reveled in the fact that one of them had gone to see Hamilton this past weekend and that we are nearing spring break!

This weekend, I took advantage of the weather and had a bonfire at a friend’s house. I can feel spring is in the air, which means a break is coming soon! This next week is my last week of full control! We will be wrapping up poetry by analyzing Count on Me by Bruno Mars and Roar by Katy Perry. Students will also begin discussing the respiratory system before we start our next unit after break. I will also have my first interview at a charter school and get my edTPA score back, let the final stretch begin!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Creativity is Key

Sarah Schmitt - Cooper Dual Language Academy

This week felt like a real taste of full control since it was our first normal week in a while. My teacher wasn’t getting observed, we didn’t have PARCC testing, or any of the other events that have seemed to scramble our schedule these past few weeks.

It was a long week but I was proud of the amount of work I was able to get done each day. Although the workload is pretty non-stop with student teaching (and with teaching in general) it was satisfying to create a lesson and implement it the very next day.

This week we wrapped up Frindle, The Human Body unit, and opinion writing with students completing final projects and assessments for all of them. My homeroom had a final project that asked them to create their own advertisement for a new product or interview a parent about a teacher that had influenced them. These were some of the results…

I was impressed with the amount of work my students had put into the project and it was fun to have them present it to the class. My students haven’t had many opportunities to practice speaking in front of a group in English, so it was good practice for them to present something that they had created to their peers.

Last week, I wrapped up The Human Body Unit with the FOSS curriculum and for the next two weeks we will be discussing the circulatory and respiratory systems. I will be creating this unit since my school doesn’t have any resources already created for it. I will also be creating a poetry unit for the coming weeks. There is a lot of lesson planning to be done and changes will need to be made to those plans as we go along.

Time is flying by and as we approach graduation I can’t help but feel prepared. This student teaching experience has prepared me for the Chicago Public School system, allowed me to practice living as an urban professional, and given me many opportunities to realize my potential as an educator.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Planning for the Future

Sarah Schmitt - Cooper Dual Language Academy

This was a busy week for me outside of the classroom. My students were taking PARCC tests almost the entire week, which meant that I was banished to hallway patrol. This wasn’t as bad as it sounds because I quickly learned that it provided me with free time to check up on emails, get advice from other teachers, work on homework, and … FINISH MY EDTPA!

This has been a long-time coming, friends. I am thrilled to say that I have completed the last major assignment of my undergraduate career (assuming that I passed all sections, knock on wood for me, will you?) This marathon of an assignment has been the bane of my existence since sophomore year. While I think it is beneficial to critically examine and reflect on teaching practices, this was a bit excessive and a huge stressor to add to the already rigorous student teaching process. If you are reading this and haven’t yet completed your edTPA fear not, there are resources and people available to help you! You will get through it, I did!

In other news…

Since I wasn’t able to be in the classroom much, I decided to attend two job fairs. The diversity job fair I attended on Thursday was unsuccessful. I had signed up for it thinking that there might be some teaching positions available working with bilingual students. I quickly discovered that all they had to offer was jobs selling Italian cookware (which was quite nice since I was in the market for a new strainer) and medically based jobs. The vendors I talked to politely tried to make their positions fit with my elementary education major, but it was clear that this job fair wasn’t meant for me.

The job fair I attended on Saturday was much more successful since it was only for CPS charter schools. I have had some reservations about charter schools in the past, but I decided to attend to see what was available and gain some practice talking to potential employers. In the end, I was able to apply for a job, talk with principals, and provide my resume for further contact.

This week, I will finally return to a normal schedule of full-time teaching. I have noticed some behavior issues so I have created a new “Goal Setting” chart for some of our students. The chart will allow them to evaluate their own behavior on a daily basis and get teacher feedback at the end of the week. This week we will finally be wrapping up the book Frindle, opinion writing, and our Human Body units with assessments.