From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Student Teachers

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Student Teaching - Week #9

by Kathryn Williams - Taft High School

The Teaching Week

POW:  I’m still going full time, and it is a lot of work.  I have started teaching my thematic unit with my pre-calculus students and that takes a lot of other work outside of the regular planning and grading work.  One of the things I’m integrating into my thematic unit is a problem of the day.  Students take the problem home on a half-sheet of paper, and then as they enter the classroom the following day, they hand it in to me.  They are graded and worth five points each.  So far they have been doing pretty well with getting them handed in, and I think it is a good way of including a problems that involve a little bit more critical thinking.  Ideally, the problem would be a bridge between the current day’s lesson and the upcoming lesson, but I don’t have it down that good yet!

WOW:  I have been trying several different methods to keep my seventh period class under control.  They like to talk a lot during the lesson and are not the best at paying attention or following directions.  I have been trying a couple of different things to get them to stop talking because it is really rude to both me and the other students who are actually trying to learn.  This week I tried some new stuff and I felt like it was actually beginning to work by the end of the week.  I felt as though I was the one in control on Friday in class, and that was really good.  Hopefully things will transition into this coming week well.

The Museum of Science and Industry

A couple of my friends visited this weekend and we did a couple of fun things, one of which was going to the Museum of Science and Industry.  I had not been there since I got here this semester, so I was pretty excited to see it.  However, it was extremely busy with lots of little children, so we did not get to enjoy all of the interactive exhibits as much as we would have liked.  That’s what we get from going on a Saturday, I suppose!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Student Teaching - Weeks #7 & #8

by Kathryn Williams - Taft High School

Sorry about last week.  I have been extremely busy with full time teaching.  I am totally enjoying myself, but things are crazy busy.  Here is a picture from last weekend.  I went to see the river dyed green for St. Patrick's Day.  It was a lot of fun!

But now onto this week!

Teaching Week

POW:  Half of the students in my fifth period class are failing right now.  Several students have As, so it is more for lack of motivation than lack of understanding (although it is a combination as they are unmotivated to learn).  I am trying to find ways to motivate them, but it is affecting the majority of the class, so they have the fact that they are in the majority to convince themselves that what they are doing is acceptable.  I gave them an opportunity to do corrections on a quiz to earn some of their points back, but only one person in the class chose to do the corrections.  It was very disappointing.

WOW:  This isn’t necessarily about student teaching, but I have noticed that a lot of schools have begun posting job openings.  I am working on getting my application all set to go, and it’s pretty exciting to think about having my own classroom.  I have been offered a lot of freedom here, but it is a lot harder to do something new in someone else’s classroom than it seems at first, so it is really exciting to think about finding a job.  I am looking for positions in southwest Iowa, because my school is from Iowa and that is where my fiancĂ© lives, and it’s kind of nice to know that although there are not a lot of districts in that area, there are already two schools that I will be applying to.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Student Teaching - Week #6

By Kathryn Williams -Taft High School

Teaching Week

WOW:  My College Algebra students seemed to need a little bit of humorous motivation, and when I stumbled across this website it seemed perfect. I modified it to better fit the needs of the students in my classes (and to have more standard American English grammar), and this is what I came up with:

How Not to Pass a Math Course
1.      Talk instead of working in class--your current socializing is more important than your future.
2.      Don't worry if you're failing at mid-year.  You still have half a year to learn a year's work.
3.      Do as few problems as you can--after all, practice only counts in sports and music.
4.      Leave all assignments to the last minute.  Then you will spend less time worrying about them.
5.      Never bring your textbook to class.  If you do, someone might expect you to do some work.
6.      Only study for the classes you like.  You are planning on failing the others anyway.
7.      Never bring a pencil to class.  Then you can't take notes and will have an excuse for not knowing how to do your homework.
8.      Never arrive on time to class.  Then when you are lost during the lesson it clearly isn't your fault.

I waited until the end of the period to give them this, and then I had the students take turns reading each point.  It went best in fifth period, because the students are a little bit rowdier (thus more energetic).  The funniest part was that the student who never brings his pencil to class volunteered to read number six after someone else had, so I told him he could read number seven.  As he was reading he laughed so loudly and said, "This is me.  This is totally me!"  The whole class laughed and we had a great time.  It was good because the students were willing to laugh at themselves over the situation and so I was really pleased with the way they took it.

POW:  This week was my first week of being full-time.  It was a lot of fun, especially starting with the new classes.  My students in fourth period kept trying to make me nervous on the first day that I taught them, and it was really great because it didn’t work.  I wasn’t nervous at all.  I could tease them right back because I was so much more excited to teach them than nervous to teach them.  However it was a full week and being full-time is a lot of work.  I also gave all the College Algebra classes (I teach three of them) a test on Monday, so I had to find time to grade them early in the week.  I didn’t want to feel as though I had to grade all seventy of them on Monday night (which would have taken me five or six hours), but I also knew it would be hard to get any more graded on Tuesday night because we had an extra long seminar this week.  I ended up finishing them by Thursday, which was not as early as I would have liked, but I still had to do some planning every night, too, so it was not like I was slacking.  It was a really long week, and I put a lot into it, but it was also rewarding.  I am very grateful for a weekend to recuperate and hopefully get some good planning time in for the upcoming week.

The Rest of the Week

Teaching full time is a lot of work, so I don’t really have too much exciting from the rest of the week, although one of my roommates also had a crazy week.  Her internship is with an organization (SCUPE) that held a conference this week for people throughout the US.  She stayed at the hotel where they were holding the conference all week, working from about 7am until midnight most days.  She had to do so much because she was helping run this huge conference—what a great experience!  On Thursday all the general students when to the conference for the entire day, and then student teachers went in the evening to hear Shane Claiborne speak.  It was pretty good, although I have heard Shane Claiborne several times before.  I really enjoyed being able to see a little bit more inside what my roommate has been working on so far this semester.  

Peacemaking Urban Skyline

Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence
2011 Congress on Urban Ministry

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Student Teaching - Week #5

by Kathryn Williams - Taft High School

POW:  Several times this week students got taken out of my class for misbehaving somewhere else.  It is really frustrating because it happens to students who are well behaved, but unmotivated in my class; students who need to be there to be learning the material.  I had students taken out for in-school suspension without any prior warning twice this week.  I would have liked to have been able to prepare work for the course that they could have worked on while they were there, but without any notice I did not have materials ready for the students.  Another time this week a student was pulled out of my classroom to talk to the dean about an incident from the day before when he was caught texting in another teacher’s classroom.

This makes me so angry.  I cannot believe how common it is to take students out of a classroom that they should be in and are not misbehaving in, to punish them for something they have done in another setting.  Apparently things like this are very common at the school.  I was talking to some of the other mathematics teachers who said that they are hardly ever notified when students are going to be at in-school suspension, which is unbelievable to me.  I cannot believe that they would hold them in a separate room in the school for an entire day without attempting to have something for them to work on that will allow them to be caught up in the classes that they are missing when they return.  Students are so much more likely to misbehave when they are confused by what is going on and feeling stupid than when they are caught up with the rest of the class.

WOW:  This week we were supposed to be doing a lot of research for our neighborhood research project in which we investigate the way that the neighborhood and community work together.  We were supposed to interview one administrator and someone else from the neighborhood.  We were having a little bit of trouble with our administrator interview because the assistant principal we were going to interview was always busy when we were both available, so we sought out one of the other two.  We ended up getting our interview with one of the others, and it was a really great experience.  Neither Monica or I had met him before, but he was very kind and helpful and knew a lot about the history of the school and the neighborhood.  At the end of the interview he told us that if we needed anything else throughout our time at Taft to be sure let him know and he would be willing to help us.  It was really nice to get another contact within the school.  I have added some pictures from our neighborhood project.  The first is the front of our school, and the second is of the park close-by.