Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day 8 Student Teaching


D-i-f-f-e-r-i-e-n-t-a-t-i-o-n!  Differentiation.  That's harder than it sounds.  You must direct your plans to meet the individual needs of each student.  Well, I must admit, this is an area where I can show some improvement.  I need to be more adept at being able to rely on data that helps me address individual needs.  Today 9-12-13, I experienced, firsthand why this is critically important.  It will be a priority for me.

The air conditioner is still working, all technology is still going smoothly, and there were really no glitches in instruction that cannot be overcome.  The students are excited to get the permission slips signed to that they can be in "my movie".  That makes me excited.

Have an awesome week.
Peace and blessings, Mrs. H

Day 7 Student Teaching

Glum, glum, glum:

More mistakes today.  I hope I get the hang of this soon.  That part of teaching can become really frustrating.  I am determined and I will not give up.  It is too important to me.  I will work on coming up with new ways of solving problems and will heed the advice of my cooperating teacher who is very experienced and wants only what is best for me.

I really want our students to be successful.  I often lay awake just thinking of what we can do to invigorate an area or a concept that they cannot successfully master.  It's got to work.  Still on to looking for even more ideas to meet their needs.  They're counting on me.

I hope that you have had an enjoyable week and I pray that you took a moment of your time to remember those that lost their lives on 9-11-01.  Today is 9-11-13.

May the grace and peace of our God be with all of the families of the tragedy of 911.
Peace and blessings, Mrs. H

Day 6 Student Teaching


The air conditioner has been repaired 9-10-13.  Yes!!!!! It felt good instantly.  The children were freezing.  I guess they quickly got used to that heat.  Our bodies are quite different in that respect.

Today was our grade level PLC meeting.  We reviewed student scores.  The teachers all presented their plans for growth.  I cannot wait until I can be accountable in that way.  They all seemed a bit nervous but were quickly reassured by their administrators that they always do a good job and I think so too.  I've never met a more collaborative group than the group of fifth grade teachers at Beechgrove.

The students in my small reading group were sponges today.  They really enjoyed the two consonant blending game.  I cannot wait to develop more plans that excite them. Today was a planned tornado drill.  The kids hated being down for so long but they were troopers.  I was so impressed.

I have much homework to do and many things to prepare for tomorrow's lesson.  I hate to do it, but I must cut this short.

Have an awesome evening.
Peace and blessings, Mrs. H

Day 5 Student Teaching


This has to have been one of the hottest Mondays (9-9-13) in history! The air conditioner has been out in the classroom and it has been bearable until today.  Wow!

I'm going to chalk my silly mistakes up to heat! Nah.  That would be too easy.  Let's just say that it took my mentor 23 years to perfect her approach to teaching and I'll expect that I will have a learning curve too.  Despite the fact that I've made silly mistakes or was inattentive here and there does not negate my responsibility.  I've decided that these are weaknesses and I've made a list of them and as I journal I will continue to list my weaknesses.  I won't stop there.  I'll determine, what, if anything I can do to correct them and how I can use my strengths in repair.  Yep; that's just what I'll do.  Beginning tomorrow.

It was a great day.  My first day of instruction with a small group in fifth grade reading.  I also enjoyed a solo appearance as teacher in fifth grade math, writing, and social studies but in a whole group setting.  My time was needed as well, in third grade for whole group instruction in reading and math.

I can say this.  I wish I would've bottled up the power I had in third grade and kept it.  I sure could use it right now.

Here's hoping that you have a wonderful day and that all of your weaknesses become strengths.
Peace and blessings, Mrs. H

Day 4 Student Teaching


TGIF! It was an awesome day student teaching today (9/6/13).  I experienced what it means to remain flexible.  And boy did I learn it.  When it comes to the general classroom teachers, their students, MAP testing, common assessments, and core curriculum ~ you must remain flexible to meet their immediate needs.

Today was spent in and out of the resource room, rotating among third and fifth grade classrooms and focusing on upcoming preparations for reading intervention lesson plans scheduled for the first part of next week.  I am so excited that my cooperating teacher has had the trust in me to move toward instruction early in my student teaching.  It has been a very rewarding experience.

It was jeans day today where the staff are allowed to dress relaxed and casual.  Although I wasn't aware of the policy I did manage to dress with a denim top that allowed me to fit right in.

I look forward to next week when I will be allowed to make the shift from co-teaching to full fledged instruction.

Happy Friday.
Have an awesome week.
Peace and blessings, Mrs. H

Day 3 Student Teaching

Greetings friends,

Wow, I almost cannot contain myself in all that I have learned and the potential for all that I have to learn on this assignment.  My cooperating teacher has demonstrated more and more confidence in me by allowing me to:

  • co-teach
  • serve as a reader and a scribe for a common assessment
  • small group instruction
  • one on one instruction
  • and now the opportunity to conduct whole group instruction!
I am so excited to be studying the System 44 manual for the opportunity to begin instruction next week.  Also, today I got the opportunity to attend a grade level collaborative meeting with the fifth grade teachers.  I have never met a group of ladies that work so closely together than I have at Beechgrove Elementary.  I am so lucky to be a part of this wonderful group of ladies.

Did I mention how incredibly clean this school is?  Well, it is.  They also have scrumptious lunches including huge salads.

I almost cannot wait to see what tomorrow (Day 4) brings.  Stay tuned!  Oh and tonight is my first live chat! 

Have an awesome night. (9/5/13)
Peace and blessings, Mrs. H.

Day 2 Student Teaching

Greetings everyone,

I am back to report about another wonderfully charged day (9/4/13) of student teaching.  Today I was able to experience a PLC or grade level meeting with the school Principal and Assistant Principal.  We learned about reading and interpreting MAP test results for students and how to interpret a growth plan. I was able to observe a third grade student being administered the Woodcock Johnson test.  I experienced co-teaching for the first time with a small group of students in Reading. My assistance was needed as a reader for a common assessment in Social Studies for a fifth grade class.

A new area for me was the introduction of System 44.  It looks like I will be given the responsibility to teach a small group of six students in the instructional phase and the differentiation phase of System 44. I am now reviewing trainer notes and the teacher's manual in order to begin to prepare effective lesson plans for review by my Cooperating Teacher.  It's only the second day and she already has confidence in me to lead this group beginning next week.  I don't know if I should be nervous but I'm not.

I also enjoyed working with a small group in third grade reading and math as well as small groups and assisting with whole fifth grade classes in math and social studies where needed.  It has been a jam packed day filled with lots of new and exciting adventures.  I am already looking forward to tomorrow.

The third graders were working on polygons and I thought this was an interesting tool for recalling some polygons.

I hope that your day was filled with opportunities to learn.
Peace and blessings, Mrs. H.

Day 1 Student Teaching


What an awesome start to the first day (Tuesday, 9/3/13) of sixteen weeks of student teaching.  I am so excited and I am equally as "happy" as the faculty and staff at Beechgrove Elementary School where I have begun my student teaching experience.  The link below is a featured photo of the faculty and staff "happily" returning to start a brand new school year. (See Page A4)

Beechgrove Elementary School

As I began my new experience, I didn't realize that I would be so filled with questions.  The morning was kicked off with a regularly assigned bus duty.   Immediately everything was "new" all over again.  It didn't take long after jumping right in with both feet to observations, participations, and even some co-teaching experiences with my cooperating teacher, Suzanne Smith.  Then off to an RTI - SAT meeting for a working lunch.  With schedule changes and planning changes it was easy to see how flexible a teacher must be.   The day ended with a staff meeting that I was excused from because I wasn't aware that it would be scheduled and plans were not made for me to attend.   It will be very easy to get used to an 8:20 am start with a 3:31 end, a very welcoming staff, and a beautifully adorned school that is immaculately clean.  Finally, the students made me feel like I had been there since the beginning of time.

Some technical questions came up today about the program for my cooperating teacher.  She needed to know how to access the co-teaching training module in Elluminate and the Personnel Director needed my FBI background check, physical examination, and TB test results.  Both were addressed with University personnel.

Looking forward to the next 34 days of this!
Mrs. H

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Debate - RTI and/or UDL - For Me A Happy Marriage

Good morning everyone,

Wow, it's nice to have a day off work. I feel free from everything today and the weather is actually awesome and it is planning to be around 60 degrees today. I cannot ask for any more than that on a day filled with homework assignments. I hope that your weekend is off to a great start as well.

As I reflect on these two ideas, it occurred to me what how artistic teachers actually are. It is a craft. Knowing when to use what strategies for which students must be carefully crafted in order to achieve maximum results. The most important thing gained from research on RTI (Response to Intervention) and UDL (Universal Design for Learning) is that we should use them together and we should be proactive in our approach rather than being reactive. The other thing that I garnered from research is that it's never too late to begin.

While RTI is a legal requirement, UDL is an appropriate response to that intervention. Who wouldn't want all students to learn? Who would want to not have all students in the general education population? My husband tells me that at his job, adults of all types work cooperatively everyday. These same students will one day find themselves among the general population of employment. It is important for us to teach them how to get the most of the inclusive situation. We cannot do that if we allow faulty curriculums and poor teaching practices to test them out of an inclusive education. I believe that if these two interventions and teaching strategies are implemented harmoniously that it may just reduce or eliminate the need for interventions and education in separate settings. If used effectively by anticipating student barriers and presenting educational objectives proactively rather than responding reactively this may just be the case. Finally, we must continually find ways to assess our students to ensure they are learning.

It is important to understand that UDL and RTI working together helps to educate the whole child. It is easy to see why students would want to retreat to a resource room where their individual needs and requirements are being met. That is not necessarily their educational goal and objective. It is also easy to see where some parents may be quick to agree with a disabling diagnosis to help them get the help they need with their child. Our role is to be objective and optimistic in the situation and make sure that we are offering highly flexible designs that are more likely to be adaptable for a broader range of students ruling out the need for interventions or reassignments. We can do this by implementing RTI and UDL collectively for an optimal educational experience. It will make our job more enjoyable as well.

What's not to like about it?

Enjoy your weekend. May the sun shine on you.

Peace and blessings, Belinda Harrett

All Rights Reserved ©, Please Request Permission To Duplicate. Belinda Harrett, University of the Cumberlands.