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Friday, May 26, 2006

"Everyone has off days."

(This post was written...a long time ago.  It took place the same week as these two posts.  But then I got too busy with the end-of-semester-chaos, and never got around to finishing it.)

And apparently mine was Wednesday.

Which was also, coincidentally, the first day I was videotaped.

This lesson was different than the others in that the students did...different things than in my previous two lessons.  (I'm still trying to figure out how specific I want to be in my writing here.  If someone involved were to read this, they would very obviously know it was me who was writing it.  But, they can't search for anything and find it, really.  Hmm...)

As we were walking out of the school after my teaching, my professor asked me how I felt it had gone that day.  I said something along the lines of, "well, it would have been better if I'd actually explained things to them..."  And that is when she first reassured me that everyone has off days and it doesn't really mean anything too bad.  I agreed, because while I did know that things hadn't gone exactly as I had hoped, I didn't think the lesson was horrible either.

We agreed to meet later in the day to talk more specifically about how the lesson had gone.  She walked to her car and I walked to my bike to head back to campus.  As she was pulling out, she rolled down her window and beckoned me over to her car.  She then, again, told me not to worry too much about the day going how it had.  She told me not to mull over it too much in the two hours until we would meet to actually talk about it.  I didn't really know how to respond to that, so I said, "thanks" and left.  I then began to worry about it!  I mean, if she was that adamant about reassuring me that it's okay to not have had the lesson turn out perfectly, and was that...concerned about my emotional state after the lesson, it must have looked a lot worse to her than it did to me!  Like I had said, there were definitely things I wished I could have done differently while the lesson was happening, but I didn't think it was that horrible to warrant unhealthy rumination.

Well, I did have some opportunities to think about the lesson before we met to talk about it.  I realized that not only did I not always really explain everything that day, but I didn't demonstrate things to the extent that I should have. 

I started off by modeling to the students how they would be doing the activity.  I used an overhead and gathered student ideas to compile an example of how the writing activity could work.  I then told them to work on it on their own.  And it got quiet - and that scared me.  It just felt weird that I told them to write something, and they got quiet and did.  Of course, they weren't all writing, and they weren't all having an easy time thinking of what to write.  I walked through the classroom while they were writing, offering reassurances to some students and prompting other who weren't writing anything.  I told the students that they could talk to the people sitting around them or me if they had a question or needed help thinking of what to write.  A couple of the students asked questions or took suggestions from classmates, but mostly they quietly worked.

After I gave them a 30-second warning and went back to the front of the room, I told them what they were to do next (with partners).  I should have demonstrated to them exactly what I wanted them to do, how I wanted them to interact with their partner.  I should have broken it down into steps.  I should have first shown them how I would do it, then had a student or two demonstrate after me, giving and asking for constructive feedback along the way.  I didn't.  I basically just threw the instruction at them (orally, no written instructions) and allowed them to dissolve into not-quite-chaos.  They just weren't entirely sure what it was I wanted them to do, but regardless, they tried and worked.

Later, when we met back together as a large group, I could tell that my objectives had not been met by the students.  But, I put no fault on the students for not meeting my objectives.  I realize that it was my sub-par instruction, or more accurately, lack of appropriate demonstration/modeling (one of the books I read said that one of those terms shouldn't be used, and I can't remember which one was the term to avoid) , that prevented the students from learning what I wanted them to learn.

So, while the day did not go as I had planned, I was not really upset with that fact.  The students had done what I told them to do.  What I told them to do was not what actually what I wanted them to do.  But they did do what I told them to do.

As I said, this was also the first day I was video taped.  I had hoped that my pr0fessor would forget about the fact that she had planned to video record my teaching that day.  When she showed up with the camera a tripod, I knew she hadn't.

I thought that the camera would make me nervous, but it didn't at all.  After literally three seconds forgot about it's existence, the same way I forgot that the classroom teacher was sitting at her desk doing paperwork throughout my lesson and I forgot that my pr0fessor was sitting at the back of the room taking notes all throughout my lesson.  Or, I guess it wasn't so much that I forgot that the camera, the teacher, and my pr0fessor where there.  It was just that, it didn't really matter to me.  I was teaching, and that was my focus at the moment.  My focus was not on worrying about what I would view later when I watched the video, or what the teacher might be thinking about how I was teaching her students, or what my pr0fessor would say to me later.  I was totally focused on the task at hand - teaching my lesson to this classroom of children.

What I saw in the video wasn't really much of a surprise to me.  The most important things that I learned when watching the video were that I usually didn't challenge the students' answers to my questions.  I didn't push them to think farther, explain themselves more thoroughly, or delve deeper into the topic.  Also, the flow of the talk in the room tended to be very staccato.  It was; me, student1, me, student2, me, student3, etc.  I don't want to talk between each student, I want the students to develop the ability to bounce ideas off of one another, to respond to their peers without going through the teacher.  Both of these patterns of my questioning where things that I wanted to make an effort to improve upon for the next day.

When I talked with my pr0fessor that day, I formulated some things in my mind that I could do to make the last lesson effective and worthwhile.  That night, I reworked my final lesson - highlighting the importance of demonstrating or modeling what it was I wanted the students to do, and reinforcing the concepts I wanted them to leave the lesson understanding.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

My poor computer.

Two days after I got back home from school, my computer died.  Totally and completely.  It was turned on, playing calming music when I went to sleep.  When I woke up, it had turned itself off, and would not turn back on.

Luckily, I tend to back my stuff up on a fairly regular basis.  So, while I may have lost some files, about 90% of my school papers/projects had been saved to the school's online storage server and most of my photos and music had been saved to an external hard drive.

Also fortunate is the fact that my extended warranty is valid for one more month.  Had the computer died after that time, I would have been out of luck.  Since I am still within the 3-year warranty time period, my computer has been sent away in a box, hopefully to come back in a week fully functional and with a new hard drive.  (I'm also hoping that if my computer is given a new hard drive now, it'll last another three years or so.  That might just be optimistic thinking though...)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Okay. I finished.

First I handed in the less0n plans to my pr0fessor's mailbox and left the building.

Then I remembered I hadn't written my name anywhere on the less0ns.  (Not that it really matters since I was the only person handing it in today, and besides, my pr0fessor would know they were mine.)  I went back to write my name on it.  I had to admit to the office assistants that I had failed to write my name on my final project, and that's why I was taking it out of my pr0fessor's mailbox.

I left the building and went back to my dorm to begin packing.  I started cleaning up and realized I hadn't handed in the previous drafts, which I was supposed to have done.

So I went back to the educati0n building.  Again.  And back to the office with my new packet of materials.  The office assistants looked at me and laughed.  I saw that the things were gone from my pr0fessor's mailbox, and asked if that meant she was in her office.  It did.

I went to her office to give her the remaining materials.

It was an effort, but I finally got it all turned in. :-)

My professor said to me, "You're all done now.  You should go celebrate!"  I don't think I know how to anymore - I feel like there's something else I should be doing (like packing) and can't just...relax.

Yay, school's over?  (I totally love school.  I'm a dork.  If it weren't for the pain of tests and papers, I would wish that I could always have class.)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Note to self.

You're going to be doing this (writing less0n plans) very regularly for the rest of your life, so you better get used to it now.  Go go go!  Once you're done,  you'll be done with school for the year (and with this school in particular for 8 months).

(I'm studying abr0ad during the fall semester, so I won't be back at my school until next January.)

(Wait, that's sad!  I'm not going to be back here until January?!  That just occurred to me here and now.  This will be so strange.  (I should stop talking in parenthetical remarks and get back to my final lesson plans.))

So far, I'm at less0n number 8 out of...5.  Which is an unfortunate state to be in (but allowed - Pr0fessor said it was okay if it stretched out longer than I had expected, due to my being very off in estimating the amount of time things take.  Since I taught those four real classes (two of which I still have half-written entries about), I have a more realistic notion of time, but I also don't want to cut anything out, so my unit is getting looonnngggeerrr.)

(This was an entirely pointless post and I will get back to being the hard-working college student my pr0fessors think I am.  (Or at least the one who I am writing these lesso0 plans for thinks I'm hard working.  And I am, but I've never gotten recognition from a teacher or pr0fessor for being hard-working before.))

I need to stop using parenthesis.  They should start charging for punctuation.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Not Quite Summer...

Finals week is nearly half over.  (Well, not really.  But kind of...).

I have about 10 half-written posts.  Someday I'll finish them and post something of substance.

On the last day of preschool, my professor asked if I was sad that I would be leaving the kids and/or miss them.  I'm a horrible person, but hadn't given it much thought.  (To my credit, I didn't work during their entire class, just one-hour snippets of the 3.5 hour class sessions.  So I didn't feel that entirely connected to them.)  Mostly, I was probably worried about finals and not wasting my energy being sad about saying goodbye to the preschoolers.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Reading other blogs.

I've been reading Wockerjabby for about six years now.  It was one of the first blogs I regularly read.  She has always been a few years ahead of me in life.  When I was in high-school, she was in college.  When she graduated college, I graduated high-school.  She participated in some type of alternative certification program and has taught middle-school science in New York for the past few years.  Since she writes about teaching both in her blog and her livejournal, Wockerjabby was technically the first 'edu-bl0g' I ever read, before I discovered that there was such as thing as an 'edu-bl0g'

Her latest post makes me sad.  Sad for the state of the educational systems in practice in some (many?) places.  Sad for the students who have to endure endless testingtestingtesting.  Sad for the teachers who have to compromise their goals and morals and beliefs in what is truly right and important, so that their students can pass the mandated tests.

She writes; "I want to put my hands on their temples so they feel truth like electricity, flowing from my heart to their brains, when I tell them school is for giving you power, not misery!"

If you haven't already, go read her post.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Educati0n is hard work!

One of my freshman floor-mates is sitting out in the hall, doing homework.  Some guy came up to the hallway and started talking to her, asking her what she was working on.  She responded that she was doing educati0n homework, (she is in the intro class, and earlier in the evening we had been talking about how it is a lot of work, but definitely worth.  She is not planning on going into educati0n.)  He loudly interjected with:

Educati0n homework?!  That sounds like a total bu11$hit class!

I almost went out and confronted him up, but figured that might turn out badly.  Don't diss the educati0n classes!  (I have a post half-written about the average student at my school's perceptions of the educati0n classes and the educati0n department.  Hopefully I'll finish that and post it soon.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Stranger Danger

Because it's the end of the semester, and I'll do anything to procrastinate, I decided to go for a run this afternoon.  (I am not a runner.)  I ran past a group of three girls coloring in chalk on the sidewalk.  They looked to be about 3 and 4 or 5.  As I was going past, I smiled, said "hi," and kept going.  As I was leaving them, I heard the following:

-Who was that?
-I don't know.
-Do you know her?
-She was a stranger!
-You just talked to a stranger!  You're not allowed to talk to strangers!

I go to school in a small town.  People say "hi" to one another as they pass them on the street, so I can't imagine these girls hadn't been spoken to by a stranger in the past.  The whole thing made me laugh.  I'm not exactly what one thinks of when they think of a scary stranger (which doesn't mean I'm not, of course.  And we teach the kids that in the "Safety Class" I work at for a week in the summer.  Strangers aren't just scary-looking men in dark coats.  They also could, theoretically be a 5 foot tall female out running in a tank-top with her mp3 player plugged into her ears...)

On my way back, I passed by the house again.  This time the girls were eating dinner with their family at a table in their front lawn.  One of them waved to me.  Maybe I wasn't a strange anymore?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sand-table fun.

I am still working on the posts from my last two days of teaching.  In the meantime, a preschool conversation:

We were at the sand table, and she had filled a cup with sand.

Girl: Would you like something to drink?
Me: Sure!  (Taking the cup from her,) What is it?
Girl: Wine!
Me: Oh?
Girl: Do you like wine?
Me: (Why is she giving me a cup of sand-wine?! ) Not really.  Do you have any water or juice?
Girl: No, just wine.
Me: (Hopeful,) No water?
Girl: No, the water's broken.  We only have wine.
Me: Do you have any milk?
Girl: Nope, just wine.  Aren't you thirsty?
Me: Not really...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"I like and appreciate teacher/educati0n blogs" is, apparently, an understatement.

Ms. Sigh Ants posted a comment to my last post:

"This is going to sound kind of cheesy but I like reading your self-reflections on your lessons. As a student in a similar place to you it reminds me that we all struggle and worry and feel happy about the same things. It is also neat to see how other people react to situations. Thanks for sharing this with all of us!"

I began to respond to her posting in the comments, but it turned into this...so it got its own post.

Ms. Sigh Ants, that's not at all cheesy - it's true! That's why I've been so fascinated by educati0n blogs/teacher blogs ever since I discovered their existence last spring. It's just so...reassuring to read about other people who are going through the same things I am.

And I just love when I find other soon-to-be-teacher blogs, because then I'm not reading about where I will be in a few years, I'm reading about other people who are experiencing the same things as I am right now. And I just love hearing (reading) how other people interpret/analyze their own personal experiences in whatever subject/grade level they are learning how to teach.

Also, I'm constantly curious as to what other educati0n programs are like. I think mine is atypical in some respects; (the size, for one thing, and because of the size the way we interact so personally with the professors. And perhaps the (unofficial) philosophy of the educati0n department, for another – we're liberal to the nth degree here at my school, and that certainly is reflected in many of the topics discussed in the educati0n classes.) So I love reading other educati0n students' perspectives on the ways their educati0n programs are preparing them to teach, and whatever else they write about their programs.

Additionally, thanks for reading and commenting. It's great just hear other people say "yeah, I'm going through that too." Because with the educati0n program at my school as tiny as it is, there really aren't other peers here that I can discuss these things with; people who will understand the excitements and disappointments I go through. Sure, people will listen to me rattle on about my observing or my teaching, and they'll nod and smile and display appropriate emotions to the things I'm telling them, but they don't really know in the same way other people in educati0n programs or already teacher know what I'm talking about.

So I guess I'm really thankful for the fact that this medium exists. Not only has it taught me a lot about educati0n in the "real world" and different perspective on educati0n, (though I have to admit, I think I stick to reading blogs written by teachers who seem to teach in ways I agree with…so, I'm pretty closed-minded in the way that liberal people are often closed-minded to conservative perspectives) but it has made me even more enthusiastic about educati0nal issues in general. Previously, I kind of wanted to be a teacher because I really like children and I really liked educati0n, and I figured combining the two by turning into a teacher would be a good plan. But through reading all the blogs that I read (see: huge sidebar) I have become informed about all the current educati0nal issues in a more personalized manner than what I got in my intro to educati0n class.

Alright, this was not written with the intent to be really long and cheesy. I just meant to respond to Ms. Sigh Ant's comment to my last post. But, this is what it turned into!

Thanks to all the educati0n/teacher blogs out there. This is a great network to be part of!

Day two.

Day two began without much nervousness or worry about anything catastrophic happening.  The teacher was back at school, and when I walked in she gave me the set of lesson plans back that she had commented on.  When she handed them to me she said that they were really good and that she sees a lot of already-teachers who don't write lesson plans as organized as mine were.  That was certainly flattering (and helped a little in convincing me that my lesson plans aren't horrible, and reassured me that many of the issues I have with them may in fact be due to my openness to continuous feedback from my professors and my desire for near-perfection in all things education-related).  I told her "thanks," but she kept repeating how much she liked them.  I don't know how to respond to that!  At my college, you don't get unconditional praise like that.  You get "good, but..." or "that's an improvement, here's how you could improve even more" or "this part is really good, this part could use some work."  I finally told her that I had received a lot of help from my professor in creating the lessons.  My professor responded back that I was just being modest.  That made me feel really good.  Like I was saying - I don't get flat-out affirmation that I am doing things well from the professors here.  It's a tough school - we are made to think that we can always work harder than we currently are.  In saying that I was being modest about the quality of my lesson plans, my professor was about as close to saying something good as I get here.  

When I started setting up, I realized that there wasn't enough wall space at the front of the room for all the things I wanted to put up.  (The students were beginning to trickle into the room at this point.  I'm not really sure where they had been.)  I did not know how to deal with the lack of wall space.  I was gathering all my stuff up, and I told my professor about my problem, and she came up with a solution that worked fine (not ideal, but fine).  As I was trying to put one of the sheets of butcher paper up on the wall using a stapler (there was a caulk board strip), I was kind of struggling, I guess.  I'm short, the caulk strip was a little above where I could comfortably reach.  The students were still slowly coming in at this time, and one of the girls came over and helped me by standing on some boxes and holding up the paper while I stapled.

We reviewed the stories we had read the previous day and discussed some things about them.  The students were all enthusiastic and willing to participate in the reviewing of the stories and the discussion.  I then introduced the next activity, demonstrated what they would be doing, and sent them back to their desks to work on the activity.

One mistake I made at this point (that I didn't realize until later) was that I paired together two students who hadn't been there the day before.  They hadn't been there when we were first reading/discussing the books.  (As one of them said to me, "I was throwing up all day yesterday!"  I told him I was glad he was feeling better.)  Luckily though, they had a pretty good idea of the stories from the discussion at the beginning of the lesson (the students had done a great job of remembering the important details I had wanted them to remember) and these two were able to complete the activity pretty well.

Another mistake I made was writing in red marker on the butcher paper - it wasn't readable from the back of the room.  That wasn't a major problem though.

One thing I should have done better during this activity was tell, show, and demonstrate to the students how to work with a partner.  I just took for granted that they would know how to do this, and apparently they don't really do partner work or gr0upwork like this much/ever in class.  They don't really know how to work together with a partner.  At one point I actually ended up saying, "You all are too quiet to be talking with your partner.  I want it to be louder in here."  I'm sure that's something they've never heard their teacher say to them - she's a big fan of work being done in quiet.  Many of the partners ended up using the partner work more as a type of "parallel" work (like Piaget's parallel play) instead of true interactive work with their partners.  The students were sitting next to one another, and I did finally get them to talk with their partners, but they were doing so more in the form of "this is what I wrote down.  Now you write it too," instead of "let's come up with ideas together."  In retrospect, I should have modeled to them better how one goes about working together with a partner.

As my professor and I were leaving the school, she asked me how I thought it went.  I told her that I thought the previous day had gone better, but she commented that she thought that day went well.  She said that from her perspective, most things looked pretty good.  So, that was definitely a boost.  We then ended up walking back to campus together because I am car-less, and she had carpooled to work that day so didn't have her car with her.  As we were walking we had our post-teaching debriefing.  The in-transit discussion was helpful in that I think professors' offices make me nervous, and I was able to respond to her questions and comments in a more natural way outside of the office.  The problem was, though, that I couldn't take notes while we were walking.  Since the suggestions she made to me did make sense, I was able to remember most of them and write them down later.

I wish I could remember more what happened that day, because I felt really confident afterward and really good about how things had gone, what the students had accomplished.  I guess that's a reminder for me that if I want to remember something, I have to write it down before the next day happens, or else I'll forget.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Real students, real classroom, real school, real exciting!

When I was meeting with my professor this afternoon to talk about how my teaching had gone earlier in the day, I made the following confession:
"I've been really nervous about teaching for the past two weeks.  Then this morning I decided to stop being nervous and be excited instead.  So I was."

She laughed, but that's the decision I made and it worked out well for me.

Last night when I checked the weather, it said that this morning the weather was supposed to be really bad (90% chance of heavy precipitation) and I don't own a car, nor do I have a valid drivers license.  (I do though own an expired drivers license.  I need to make it unexpired.)  The weather was making me nervous.  I woke up this morning and while it was certainly overcast, nothing was falling out of the sky, so I was good.  I rode my bike over to the school and arrived exactly as early as I had planned (about four minutes before I was supposed to meet my professor and about 9 minutes before I was set to start teaching).  Just as I was locking my bike up to the bike rack, the bell rang and the kids lined up to go inside to start the day. 

As they were all lining up to go inside, and I was walking toward the entrance, I had this momentary fear that one of the teachers would think I was a student and tell me to get in line.  I was wearing my kid sized raincoat (half the price of the adult version!) and carrying my materials in my backpack.  If you weren't looking at my face, I could very easily have been one of the 4th graders at the school.  (I'm kind of tiny.)  Luckily, no one mistook me for a student.

I walked into the office to sign in and meet my professor.  She was there waiting and had the supplies I had asked her to bring for me (rolled up butcher paper, which I couldn't easily carry on my bike).  She asked if I was ready, I said I was, and we walked to the classroom.

We walked in and...there was a substitute?  Yes.  The regular teacher was not there, there was a sub in her place.  My professor asked if the sub knew anything about me being there, and she said that she thought there was something in the plans about it.  

I had sent the classroom teacher my lesson plans last week, to look over and make any suggestions/comments on if she wanted to.  I had heard nothing back from her, so I assumed she didn't have anything to say about them.  Sitting on her desk though, were my lesson plans.  At the top she had written that overall she liked them a lot, (good!) but she did have a few additional comments.  Some of which I could do nothing about now (the suggestion required supplies that I didn't have with me) but I may have been able to incorporate in had she given them to me ahead of time.  Oh well, there was only that one suggestion she had made, and it wasn't a very significant comment anyway.

So, I went to go hang up my butcher paper.  Unfortunately, there was an overhead screen pulled down over the area where I needed to hang up the paper.  The way the overhead was tied down, it looked like it wasn't supposed to go up.  But, since the teacher wasn't there to ask, my professor said that I could detach the thing holding the screen down, and allow it to go up so that I could put my paper on the wall.  I unrolled my pieces of butcher paper, and began to tape them up to the wall.  I had the names of two books written on the butcher paper, and the kids read the names as I was taping them up.  One of the books a couple kids said they had read before (and this was fine - they're picture books so they can easily be read and re-read).

After I put the paper up, I told that students that since I didn't know their names, I was going to give them name tags.  I handed out the (expertly crafted) blank name tags (that I made last night out of note cards, yarn, and a 3-hole punch), and told them to write their names on the name tags, and wear them.  They asked what they should write it with, and I told them that whatever was fine, (though I realize now I should have said no neon pink gel-roll pen.  Because that's pretty much unreadable).  There is one girl in the class who I have worked with before, and therefore I know her name.  She kept boasting that I already know her name.  I made her make a name tag anyway.  While they were making the name tags, the announcements kept going off, because it was still the beginning of the day.  A couple students asked what we were going to do, and I didn't want to leave them guessing, but I didn't say anything until the announcements were done and the students had all finished making their name tags.

Then, I stood at the front of the room, and was a teacher.

I showed them the books we were going to be using.  I told them what our ultimate goal was and how we would be using the books and our class time to reach that final goal.

I started talking and realized that I wanted to point something out on a map, but had never found out if they have a map in their room.  So, I asked the students, ("do you have a world map in here?") and they said that yes, in the back of the room there was a wall map.  I went over and pointed out what I wanted to point out. 

My professor later told me that she was impressed that I was able to go with the flow like that - not really know where the map was, but make a spur-of-the-moment decision to point out what I wanted to point out.  I don't know if she should have been impressed so much as relieved.  I mean, if I hadn't been able to do that, wouldn't that be the sign of a bad teacher?  One of the most important things about teaching, I think, is being able to go with whatever is happening.  Though I guess she was expecting a certain level of nervousness and awkwardness in me that I'd like to think didn't actually surface today.

Next, I had planned on having the students all sit on a rug area at the front of the room while we read and discussed the books.  (Me doing most of the reading, them doing the discussing.)  But, the teacher had rearranged the room since I'd last been there to observe.  The student desks were now in four rows, (something I have never seen in any of the K-5 classrooms I have been in or observed/worked with) and the rows were encroaching on the carpeted area.  I asked the students if there was room for all of them up at the carpet, afraid that I would have to have them sit at their desks (which would have been awkward for discussion).  Luckily, they said that they would all fit as long as the few people who have desks closest to the carpet stay in the desks.  And they did all fit.  They where certainly cramped up there, but they fit.

While I was introducing the story/talking with them about the topic, one of the huge sheets of butcher paper began to fall off the wall.  I didn't really think anything about it and told the students who were sitting underneath it to just toss the paper behind them.  They did and we went on with our discussion. 

Later, when I was talking with my professor, she said that she was again impressed with how I just told them to put it out of the way.  I still feel that it was simply another go-with-the-flow moment.  She said that had I made a big deal about it, they would have too.  Which I agree with.  But I can't really see why anyone would make a big deal about it.  It was a humid day, the tape didn't stick, so I had them throw the paper them.  It seems logical to me.  Maybe if I had been really high-strung/nervous/wanting perfection I would have reacted differently?  I don't know.  Regardless, she made a big point of telling me she was impressed with how I handled the paper falling down.

On the topic of the activity itself, I was really impressed with how the students answered my questions and were tuned into the important details in the stories.  One of my biggest lesson-specific fears was that I would ask a question and the students would just sit there staring at me, the wall, the laces on their shoes, not answering the questions.  But they did!  There were about 10 students who regularly raised their hands to participate and a couple more who occasionally raised their hands.  (This class is fairly small, I'm not sure of the exact number, but there were certainly fewer than 25 students in the room while I was there.)  While I of course would like everyone to participate, I'm quite happy with the number who did.  Tomorrow I will work on calling on some more students who aren't raising their hands, but look attentive and like they might have a thought.  For my first day teaching them, and my first day teaching, period, I'm pretty happy with the amount of student participation I received.  And I'm overjoyed with the quality. 

Based upon my past observations of the class, I had been worried that the students wouldn't be used to answering the types of questions I was planning on asking them.  And that in the unfamiliarity, they wouldn't be able to answer in the ways and to the extent that I was hoping.  Each time I called on someone though, they gave a thoughtful, quality response!  (I'm still excited, and relieved!)  When I was talking with my professor later, she said that she too was impressed with the responses they gave, and surprised about the "quality" based on what she has seen of the way the regular teacher directs class discussions.  (She also kindly gave me some of the credit, for having asked "good" questions, though I'm not sure that my questions were good so much as the kids were somehow able to figure out what I wanted.  I certainly had them talking more, and in very different ways that I have ever observed the regular teacher with the students, though.)

I kind of ran out of time toward the end.  There were two books that I had planned on reading, but I should have just used the one and expanded that one discussion more (as my professor and I discussed afterward).  I squeezed the second book in during the last 15 minutes or so.  So while I was able to introduce it a little, I had to cut out some of the talk about the book, and we didn't get to write things down (on the butcher paper) about the second story.  In some ways, this will help reinforce the importance of reviewing the story tomorrow.  But I had hoped to do a lot more discussion about that book today. 

Overall, I am very pleased with how it wall went.  My decision to stop being nervous and start being excited was a smart one.  I went up there, I did my thing, and it was good.  There is always room for improvement, and we (my professor and I) talked about those areas.  There are also things I did well (like not freak out about the paper falling off the wall).  For my first time teaching real students in a real public school classroom, it was really exciting.

It felt good.

I'm happy.