Eighth Day of Practicum, Fall ’10

Today was very, very slow. My Host Teacher, as she told me last week, was not there, so I had a sub (well, two, actually), and that was, well, interesting. The first sub was a young guy, and since he knew a lot of the students’ names and vice versa, I gathered that he is probably a frequent sub. He was great with them. He had positive relationships with all of them, and he knew exactly what he was doing. That class watched a movie. I have no idea what the title of the movie was, but it starred Kevin Kline as a very influential teacher, and I caught Jesse Eisenberg, too. Anyway, the class really seemed to enjoy the movie.

As always, I also observed a couple of classes taught by the other teacher who shares a classroom with my Host Teacher. I really noticed something today that I don’t think I really noticed before, or if I did, I just shrugged it off because it works for him. Not too long in my ADO 310 class, we talked about using sarcasm with your students and how, as a general rule, you shouldn’t use it unless you have that kind of relationship with your students (and even then, you have to be careful, because you could really upset a student by using sarcasm with him or her). However, he definitely uses it with them to a great extent, but like I said, it seems to work for him. Maybe it depends on your perceived personality. Are the students fully aware that you are kidding with them?

Anyway, the second sub took over in the afternoon, and she was not anywhere near as successful as the guy was in the morning. It was blatantly obvious that she was incredibly nervous, first struggling to find my Host Teacher’s lesson plan and then asking the TA for help. The students did not respond well to her at all, refused to do what they were told and got nothing done. So, it was interesting seeing two subs today and seeing two totally different outcomes, and of course, there are many variables that come into play besides the method(s) that the sub uses, although that definitely did come into play today. You have to account for time of the day, the students that are in the classroom, and so forth. It makes sense that a morning class would be better behaved than an afternoon class. My next (and last) Practicum is on December 3rd, and that is when I will be teaching. Wish me luck!

Seventh Day of Practicum, Fall ’10

Today was only a half-day for Syracuse City Schools, so it was a pretty easy day. Unfortunately, I was very hungry the whole time and hadn’t brought any food to snack on, and the classrooms were uncomfortably cold. At first, I thought that maybe it was just me, but no, the first words that came out of my Host Teacher’s mouth were in regard to how cold the room was. I guess that the heat wasn’t on, and I know that it was very cold outside, because my ride was a few minutes late picking me up, because her car was frozen. Unfortunately, Winter is upon us!

On our way to Practicum, the three of us (carpooling mates) were talking about how after next week, there is only one more time that we have to go to Practicum, and that is December 3rd (the day that I have to teach). December 10th, I will not be going as far as I know, because my ride is going home, and that is the last day of classes, anyway. I doubt Practicum students will be expected to go, anyway, for that reason. A lot of students, especially Education majors, don’t have final exams, and a lot of those students don’t have classes on Fridays, and they will therefore be going home on Thursday. Anyway, I can’t wait for the semester to be over. It has really taken a toll on me.

Today, all I basically did was grade more papers, but my Host Teacher was great with the students, displaying a great deal of patience and understanding. Today was apparently the last day of the marking period, so she gave them time in class to complete missing assignments in order to bring their grades up, and since it was a half-day, this was the first time that I observed Fifth Block. The class was pretty noisy, but it was a study hall, anyway. Anyway, I will be writing about Practicum again next week (when my Host Teacher will be a substitute), and I will be doing so at home!

Sixth Day of Practicum, Fall ’10

When I got to Practicum today, I immediately felt a hostile element to the environment, and its source was none other than my Host Teacher. She told me that for either the first or the second block, “the state” would be coming in and that “they would not like you sitting in the back of the room. They are very judgmental of that.” So, she told me to circle the room and ask the students questions and answer any that they may have. The way that she said it and her general attitude told me that she, herself, does not like me sitting in the back of the room, either. I don’t know what else she expects. It is beyond my boundaries to discipline the students, and she has told me repeatedly that the students’ behavior does not signify a preparation to work in groups. Would “the state” not want me grading papers and/or making copies of papers for her? Even the other teacher who shares the room with her seemed to be in a very foul mood.

The woman who came in is a graduate of Henninger High School, and she knew some of the students in the classroom, having had them as students in elementary school. She was great with all of them, and as it turned out, she was not from “the state,” but it was just from the District. That class was great, since it is 9th grade honors. The students seem to have a genuine love for reading. When Silent Reading was over, the students literally begged the teacher for more time to read. That was awesome. Throughout the day, I graded papers (which really helped the day go by) and observed four classes, one of them being the other teacher’s class. Next week is a half-day, but I will be going. I believe that the week after is when I have to teach my lesson to the class, and I am nervous. It is the first time that I have ever had to teach a class, so needless to say, my nerves are getting the better of me. Anyway, I will report back next week about Practicum.

Wow, Almost Over!

As my religious readers know, I always write about my Practicum experience every week, but this past week, Syracuse City Schools had a half-day, so I was told that I didn’t need to go. This past weekend, I had so much fun. I watched a lot of NCIS with Ray and Saw VII with him on Saturday, which I absolutely loved. I felt that it tied everything up, and as an avid Saw fan ever since the first film was released during my freshman year of high school, I was very emotionally satisfied.

Anyway, though, moving on to more important matters, who can believe that the semester is actually very close to being over? We have about three weeks left until Thanksgiving Break, and then, when we get back to school from that, it will only be another three or so until Winter Break. Good news? Most definitely, but it has its downsides, too.

For example, I have a major Final Project to worry about for my English 360 class, one that I have not even had the chance to start thinking about yet, let alone actually start, and I believe that it is 25% of my grade. Am I worried? Definitely. On top of that, I have a Teacher Work Sample to complete for ADO 310, English Methods, which involves a unit’s worth of lesson plans, as well as five additional parts (one of which is complete, thanks to EDU 380).

It is just so difficult to believe how close to the end we are. This semester has (thankfully) flew by. It has been very rough on me, with a ridiculous amount of work that needs to be completed on a daily basis, and I have very little time to myself. I am so looking forward to Winter Break, which will be a much needed break. Friday, I will be going to Practicum, and (I believe) next week, I have to teach a lesson to the students, so I met with the other Practicum Students who have the same Host Teacher that I do and will be meeting with them again on Thursday night. I will be writing again soon.

Fifth Day of Practicum

My fifth day of Practicum went pretty well, because I actually got the opportunity to grade papers. They were just tests and quizzes, not essays or anything like that, but it was still good to be in those shoes. It was clear that my Host Teacher was trying to keep me busy, which is a good thing. I like being productive.

A student in one of my Host Teacher’s classes got snippy at one point, but I was very happy with how she responded. The student was upset because the teacher told her to put her math homework away, but the student said something back, and the teacher calmly wanted to know what the problem was. She discovered that the student was struggling to get the homework done in time for class because she didn’t understand it. However, overall, there was not a lot of interaction in the classroom, and a great deal of time is spent on handing papers back.

In all of her classes, she talked about a literary element – suspense. Additionally, the students listened to an audio recording of the Most Dangerous Game, and she walked around the classroom to make sure that they were reading along with the audiobook, saying that that way, they were making use of two senses – seeing and hearing. I think that her heart was in the right place, but I don’t really agree with the method, because it makes the mistake of assuming that all students learn the same way. That isn’t going to work for everyone, and at the end of the class, some even told her that they didn’t like it.

This week, I don’t have to go to Practicum because it is a half-day for Syracuse City Schools, but I will definitely be reporting back next week. I am going home this weekend, and then Halloween is Sunday, so I am really excited. Until then, take care, everyone, and stay warm – Winter is quickly approaching!

First Day of Practicum, Fall ’10

I already have a pretty good feeling that this field placement is going to be a bit better for me than my last one was at Corcoran. First, I, as well as the group that was with me, met the principal, Lynette Francis. She is really nice and has a lot of energy. A few days ago, in my ADO class, a fellow student said that she would have liked to have had Ms. Francis as a teacher, and I can agree. It is quite obvious that she cares a great deal about the students and has even built relationships with some of them. For example, she saw one male student in the hallway and asked him if “they” won last night, referring to a sports team. Obviously, she finds interests that the students have and then uses those interests to attempt to connect to the students, which is a very good quality for a teacher to have.

My Practicum teacher is a nice enough person, but I don’t really like her teaching methods. She seems to treat her classes as units, not as groups of individuals. She seems to do very little to connect to her students; she instead gives them instructions and then leaves them be. She doesn’t know the students yet, since it’s only the second week of school, and that probably has a lot to do with it, but like I said, she doesn’t really seem to make a big effort to get to know them.

About a week ago, I spoke to Sara Blaney of Residence Life and Housing, whose office is in Waterbury, and I told her that I was doing my Practicum at Henninger, and she wished me luck, telling me that it was a rough school. I can definitely see where she was coming from, but it really isn’t too bad at all. When I introduced myself to the teacher’s first class, the class seemed very interested. They asked me a lot of questions. That made me very happy. They are fairly well-behaved. Some of them are late to class, but they aren’t too noisy, and they are engaged in the activities. Apart from having to get up at 6:00, I think that I might actually enjoy this a bit.

Practicum Starts Soon

So, the semester has definitely been going much better than how it started out, although I do really miss Waterbury. At Mackin, though, I have a really awesome roommate with whom I am getting along great. I really feel like the whole situation has worked out for the better, and I am happy. I am busy, as always, very, very busy, but I do have downtime, thankfully. Every week, I have to read a literature selection (it’s called that, but it’s really the professor’s selection) for my Adolescence Education course, which obviously eats up a great deal of time. I also have a lot of reading and writing to do for my other classes, and it’s very time-consuming, but I’d much rather be where I am today over where I was during my freshman year for so many reasons, and most importantly, I feel a lot more motivated now. I only have one Gen Ed Requirement left, which I am probably going to have to take either over Winter Break or over Summer Break (which is an upper-level Exploration in the Natural Sciences Course, which I think is utterly ridiculous; when am I ever going to use such a thing?), but other than that, I am completely working on my Major Requirements, and so, I feel like every chapter of a textbook I read, every paper I write, every book I read, etc. is one step that I am taking, one step closer to becoming a teacher.

Friday is my first day of Practicum this semester, so like last semester, I plan to write a weekly blog entry regarding my experience. This semester, I am at Henninger High School, but unlike last semester when I only had to complete one half-day each week, this semester, I have to complete either two half-days or one whole day. I am doing one whole day, so on Fridays, from 7:55 to 2:00, I will need to be in Syracuse at Henninger High, and I have very mixed feelings. Last semester, I was at Corcoran High School, and it was pretty rough, the students coming from pretty rough backgrounds, many focused on promiscuity and violence. I have heard that Henninger is, likewise, a rough school. I recall having a bad experience at Corcoran last semester. I went to the bathroom, and a student in that bathroom threatened me, saying that if I didn’t show my face to him, he would use physical force, and when I did, he laughed at me. It was obviously disheartening to me, someone who wants to be a teacher. I don’t mean to prejudge; I would just really like to be in a school where I can observe students who are a bit more eager to learn. Plus, I am not looking forward to getting up that early, wink wink.

The only real problem that this semester is presenting to me at this point is that my room has no internet service. I really feel like CTS has not treated the problem like it’s a real problem, and it has been incredibly frustrating. My roommate contacted CTS when he first got here at the very beginning of the semester, and someone came to the room to see what was wrong. They told him that within a week, he would have internet in the room, and there is still no internet in the room. I have repeatedly contacted them. Friday, they came here again and said that it would seem as if an entirely new line needed to be set up and that they would be contacting us very soon. A couple of days went by, and there was no word, so I contacted them. Apparently, someone is coming to the room tomorrow morning (as in the 15th; I can’t post this until the 15th due to not having internet access) at around 9 AM to take care of the issue, and I’m just hoping that it will finally be taken care of, because, needless to say, it has been incredibly inconvenient. Both my schoolwork and my job on campus make readily available internet access a crucial necessity. Anyway, I have to get some work done. I am sure that I’ll be writing again very soon, most likely after Friday to write about my Practicum experience.

Sixth Day of Practicum

What I first did when I arrived at Corcoran High School today was go to the library. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a great deal of time to browse, but I have to say that I am very impressed by the library. There are plenty of books, and it is a very warm and inviting atmosphere. Student artwork is on display on top of bookshelves, and I am very impressed with that, too.

I observed two different classes today. The first was Gear-Up. If I haven’t mentioned Gear-Up before, it is sort of like a Study Hall, except that it is a time for students to take advantage of tutors from Syracuse University. Unfortunately, a lot of students who could use the extra help don’t take advantage of it, though, and that is sad. Secondly, I observed Ms. Patapow’s English class.

Ms. Patapow, before I observed either, was incredibly helpful. I needed a copy of the school’s Code of Conduct, so she gave me that. She also gave me a copy of the new ELA specifications. Although the latter said document is not required for my EDU 301 class, it is still a good resource to have to have. I recall taking the ELA in eleventh grade, and it was two days long with two exams. Now, it is only one day long with only one essay. It is interesting to see such a striking difference. Ms. Patapow is not happy with the change, saying that the more useful of the two essays is the one that was scrapped, and she is also not happy with the fact that teachers were just recently notified of this change, which does not give them very much time to review with their students using the new specifications.

A student during Study Hall was rapping, which Ms. Patapow thought was funny for a little while. However, she eventually grew tired of it, especially when he began to swear. He used the F-word and also used the word “gay” as an insult. Ms. Patapow was not happy about this, which I appreciated.

The English class was, as usual, difficult to get quiet. It started out doing a quiz, and then it reviewed vocabulary. Throughout this entire time, most of the class talked while doing its work as Ms. Patapow waited for it to finish. When it finally did, they went over the vocabulary that they had just reviewed, and then they read the first twelve pages of the final chapter of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl.

Fifth Day of Practicum

I did not observe an English class today since I did that last week. Shortly after arriving, Ms. Patapow asked me to grade quizzes for her, which I did. I then filed the graded papers for her. At around 1:30, I went to a meeting with her and an English teacher named Cara Greene, if I remember correctly. At the meeting, the two of them were evaluated based on their lesson plans made since the last time that they met. Ms. Patapow said that she and Mrs. Greene do this instead of having an administrator come into the room to evaluate them. It was an interesting experience for me, as it gave me an opportunity to see how I might be evaluated as a teacher.

I made an attempt to visit the library today, since that is something that I’m supposed to do for my EDU 301 class, but the library was not open. I don’t know if or when I’m going to be able to do that. I will have to try to do it the next time that I am there on a day that I only have to observe a Study Hall, as long as it is not closed again. Anyway, it’s difficult to believe, but I only have two more days of Practicum. Next week is Spring Break for Syracuse City Schools (and for most schools, I think), so I have the 28th of April and the 5th of May, and then, I’m done. Granted, I started my Practicum very late, because it took a long time to get placed, but even so, this semester has gone by very quickly.

Fourth Day of Practicum

The school is just about as out of control as usual. When I got there, a class that I am assuming was a Study Hall was lined up at the door ready to leave, and a student asked me, “You a student?” I am used to this. Despite my attempts to dress professionally and behave in a professional manner, there is still the occasional student who feels the need to ask me whether or not I am a student.

For my EDU 301 class, I have to conduct an interview between myself and my Practicum teacher, Ms. Patapow, and I mentioned it to her today, saying that I would need to be conducting it very soon. I figured that it would be most convenient for her if I sent her what I needed to ask her via email, but she insisted that she wanted to get it out of the way today, so that’s what we did. I prepared the questions, and we took care of the interview today. It feels great to have one more part of the Final Project done.

During Study Hall, a man came in and administered surveys. The man, who I’m assuming was a counselor, said that they are meant to help assess what each student might want to do after graduation and said that the surveys are “too damn long.” He, too, assumed that I was a student and asked me if I had already taken the survey. I found it funny that so many people made the assumption today, since last week, a student thought that I was thirty. The Study Hall was surprisingly pretty well-behaved, and some of them who are also in Ms. Patapow’s English class did some required reading of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl.

Also during Study Hall, a student complained that she was having trouble reading The Pearl, and Ms. Patapow read it to her. I thought about how during my first day of Practicum, Ms. Patapow told me about how a lot of her students are reading at a third grade level. It therefore did not really surprise me that this student was having trouble reading The Pearl, a book that I read with ease on my own time during my tenth grade year.

It made no sense to me, but after Study Hall, I observed an English class like I did last week. I brought this up to Mrs. Patapow, but she said that it must have been the week before last. I know that it wasn’t, though. I definitely observed an English class last week and have the journal entry to prove it. I remember the class reading about John Steinbeck.

One student walked in late to English, and when Ms. Patapow told her that they were going to be reading The Pearl, the student bluntly stated, “I don’t read, miss.” Then, when the student was asked a couple of minutes later to remove her earbuds, she said, “I can’t read this. It’s boring.” Some of them are very honest, at least. Some of them certainly don’t even pretend to be interested. Some of them, however, do seem to actually be interested, though, which was obvious when the class read chapter two of The Pearl out loud. The class then concluded with a ten-question quiz. Overall, the class went well.