My First Day of Teaching!

Well, I’m exhausted! I haven’t blogged since I started full time student teaching last year and my goodness, time has flown by! I have my first very own classroom this year, full of some pretty awesome 4th graders. I have to take the time to reflect on the day and all that lead up to it, because as I keep hearing, I only get one first day of my teaching career and that day was today! I cried on my way home. Not because the day was bad by any means, but because it’s just so crazy and overwhelming that I finally made it to this day and made it through while sending home happy smiling students at the end of it all. It’s crazy that I only got through half of my lesson plans…but it was all still a success. I lamented to my teaching partner during our planning period today that I wished it could be next year so I could fix all of my mistakes! 

This year is a total learning curve-I know! I can’t be too hard on myself when I’m giving it my 100% best effort and looking out for the education, safety and health of those kids. In planning all summer for my classroom I got lost in the planning of it all, and as soon as those students came in today I was reminded of why I chose this profession. I have 25 bright, kind, silly students to go to work for every day. 

I got an email from PD offering a class that I REALLY wanted to take….then saw that it was a week long training and after thinking for a moment I just thought, “no way am I stepping out of my classroom for a whole week a month into my first school year!” I’m sure I’ll be whistling to a different tune a little later on in my career, but right now I’m just thrilled to be where I am. 

This year I have so many goals for myself as a new teacher, but I’m recognizing that being a first year teacher, I need to not necessarily narrow those down, but be extremely realistic about them. Think about what I can do now, while still taking care of myself. I was SO proud of myself today-I ate lunch in the staff lounge! On my first day of teaching! I have some really great colleagues and I want to learn as much from them as I can. I also want to make sure I eat lunch every day. One day down. Though it is 8pm and I still haven’t gotten around to dinner…

I’m proud of myself also, for printing my lesson plans that I made on this awesome planning cite, Common Curriculum, and writing all over them after school! I’m determined to support my 2nd year teacher self by taking fantastic notes on what worked this year and what didn’t. 

Despite the fact that my plans didn’t go as planned, I met some fantastic students today and I’m ready for a full year of learning and growing together. 

 

Just remembered that I have to finish my weekly newsletter…..ACK!

 

I think the thing that surprised me the most about my first day in my “real teacher shoes” was that I wasn’t even that nervous once I got up there. I made mistakes, I stumbled on my words, but it just felt right to be there and to be learning from those mistakes and stumbles as I went. I couldn’t feel more prepared to be where I’m at now and I’m so grateful for all the support and my amazing teaching program that supported me in getting here.

Yay 4th grade! Here’s to a fabulous school year!

It’s a Learning Process!

Teaching is hard-SO challenging. I say that with all the joy in the world, truly! I’m loving the process of taking on more and more teaching in my classroom and learning and growing from the little joys and successes that I have with my students as I learn along side them each day. I’m also loving learning from my mistakes and talking through my experiences with my CTs as we think together about how I can improve my teaching practice, what my strengths and weaknesses are, next steps, etc etc. 

While I’ve been taking on the daily routines, read alouds and some co-teaching in reading, my first take-over subject has been math. Because of the split class and 3rd and 4th grade math instruction being taught separately (at the same time), I choose to focus on one grade level as I complete my edTPA tasks. Today was my 6th lesson teaching on my own, taking on the full responsibilities (with of course, moral support from my CT), and I have to say that, when my CTs said that my students would challenge me as I began to take over subjects, I wasn’t expecting THIS.

My sweet, hardworking and thoughtful 3rd graders that I’ve known to be so respectful are suddenly goofing off, blurting out, making silly and inappropriately timed jokes throughout our math lessons. Due to the edTPA, it’s all on tape. My CT and I had attributed the silliness to the spring break fever, but as I watched the film of my lessons over the past few nights, I recognized exactly where I could have improved as a teacher. As much as I thought that I had made it clear what my expectations were and as well as I thought I was making my instructions for activities explicit-it could all have been more clear. I’m feeling grateful for having to video tape my instruction, and for my decision to begin my filming sooner than I had originally planned. I’m learning so much about my teaching practice and each day I’m seeing myself grow to be a more effective teacher. Just as I’m working with my students to support them in assessing their own learning each day (what went well for them? what was hard? what didn’t they get, or what did they get?), I have told them that I’m doing the same thing-they get a kick out of this 🙂 

While I have struggled with management and finding a way to develop mutual respect between myself and my 3rd graders during math time, I have also found myself feeling great moments of joy and success as I have taken on a fun new read aloud book with the whole class, and I have also been learning more about myself as a literacy teacher as I have been co-teaching with my CT more often. All in all I’m just loving being a daily part of my students’ learning and being able to see them progress on a daily and weekly basis. Students are like puzzles. Teachers work so hard to piece together all the knowledge that they can show us that they have or don’t have in order to understand which piece to pick up next in order to best support them. I’m learning so much about how to use the knowledge that I have of each of my individual students to guide my instruction to best benefit the wide range of learners that I have in my class.

I’m struggling as this week comes to a close, feeling scattered. (Also struggling to remember what day it is…I thought it was Tuesday all day today…whoops!) No matter how many times I have reorganized my folders and made to do lists and planned out when where what I’ll be doing for the next week, the feeling of being overwhelmed has persisted. I then recognized that I haven’t taken much time to breathe, to reflect and to take some time for me. I have said many times that I want to be sure to maintain my health throughout this process, and mental health is the easiest kind of health to overlook when there is so much going on. Tonight I’m taking this time to think about my experiences, my challenges and my successes as I give myself some time to decompress and reorganize my thoughts. Most of all I want to take time to be proud of all that I’ve accomplished in the past couple weeks. This process is some of the most meaningful learning that I’ve done in my life, and as I’m getting excited about learning I’m hoping that my enthusiasm will transfer onto my students 🙂

Happy learning and reflecting!

Reflective Teaching (and Blogging!)

Throughout the last few quarters in this cohort model teaching program, I have had ample opportunity to be reflective in my teaching. While not all of my reflective practices have been within the confines of my blog, having my blog and my weekly posts as a medium to reflect has given me a very positive place to grow as a reflective teacher. As I look back on my blogs, I can see that in the last quarter, my blogging has shifted from talking about ideas about teaching, such as wondering and discussing classroom management and how teachers should handle potential situations, to thinking deeper about specific interactions with students and thinking about the instructional choices I have made and will be making with students. I’ve begun to think about my own teaching practices deeply, thinking about what I have done well and what I’m still hoping to improve on and learn more about in order to develop my identity as a teacher. Across all my blog posts this quarter, I realize that I’m thinking more specifically and critically about the things that I want to do in my classroom someday, and while the larger questions about teaching are still being thought about, I am thinking about those ideas and questions with a much more centered focus. I am thinking about my students specifically and what will work for them while also considering what will work for me as a teacher, and why some things may work while others don’t. 

Once again, I’m recognizing both through blogging and outside reflection the importance of why teachers should reflect regularly. I struggle with the fact that finding time to blog is difficult. One thing that I’ve really loved as I’ve been exploring other blogs is subscribing to this blog, in which teachers post something good that’s happened to them in their day of teaching, keeping in mind the quote, “Everyday may not be good, but there is one good thing in every day.” What I love about this blog is that teachers aren’t necessarily posting extremely long posts each time they post, but they are sharing bits of their day that stand out to them as meaningful. This is a reminder to me that though I may not have time to blog daily about the positive things that I’m seeing in my classroom, finding time somewhere at some point in each day to directly think about something positive that’s happened to me in my teaching practice that day can make a huge difference on my mindset as a teacher. When we think about “what keeps teachers going?” as Sonia Nieto talks about in her book, this is something I could see myself doing to focus on the important and meaningful things that I have happening in my day. 

Being a reflective teacher is crucial as it informs teaching daily. In talking with my cohort mates about reflection, I have recognized that I reflect constantly, but often times I struggle to get it into text form. Now, looking back through all my blogs, I see important things captured and moments in which I made specific strides in my thinking surrounding my own teaching, and having that to look back on I know will make a difference in my teaching in the future. Just as Nieto’s book may be a good resource in keeping up teacher’s spirits, returning to my blog posts in which I can see such vast growth is going to be a resource that I value. 

I hope to continue to blog weekly, if not more regularly as I continue on into my student teaching and beyond. I am so grateful to be on the path that I’m on, and I’m very excited to be continuing on to this next big chapter in my teaching career with an amazing group of students and two very inspiring mentor teachers, as well as my cohort and professors to lean on when guidance is needed.

Dedicated to Social Studies

These past two weeks in my placement have given me time to shift my focus from working on my abilities as a math teacher to focusing on my skills as a literacy teacher. I did my Targeted Small Group Instruction, working with a small group of students during reading and working on the skill of making inferences. This taught me a lot about myself as a teacher and how I will continue to implement my small groups throughout the rest of the year. One of my focus students was in this group, and it was so eye opening to me to see that difference it makes for him to be taught in a small group setting versus the larger group. He flourishes when he has more space to open up and think with just a few other students.

The most exciting part of my two weeks with my students and mentor teachers was our giant social studies project. My CT put together an amazing social studies unit with another 3rd grade teacher, but also incorporated 4th grade. 3rd graders study the Pacific Rim countries while 4th graders study Washington state. The students are put into groups either by Native American tribes (4th graders) or by Pacific Rim countries (3rd graders). They earn points as they complete parts of their projects (finding facts about their country and sharing them, writing key notes about different aspects of life in their country, history of Washington state, doing reports, and finally completing bigger projects). As they earn points as a group, those points allow them to “travel” to other countries or other parts of Washington state. They have individual passports, but in the back of the room there are two maps, one of the world and one of Washington, and each group has a “vehicle” that travels around the map via pushpins. While we don’t usually earn points as a reward for doing work in our class, this project is both a way for students to learn the social studies material but also for them to work together as a team. The more reports and projects they did (they could do as many as they wanted), the more points they earned for their group. 
The last portion of the project was finishing up bigger projects. Some students did dioramas, some drew maps of their country or state and turned it into a puzzle, some made paper dolls in authentic clothing, some made post cards-the projects were very creative and the effort that my students put into them was incredible. It was so much fun to see how invested they were in their groups and in their work. The reports that they wrote were also incredibly impressive. After having helped my CT teach how to write concluding statements, I was so impressed by how they applied them to their reports. 
To conclude the social studies unit, we had a banquet at school yesterday. Students brought in foods that were authentic to Washington state or to the country that they studied. I found a fun website and got to explore authentic Australian food with my CT-super fun, and now I have some great recipes that I’m trying out this weekend! Parents came, and students presented their food and shared their social studies work that was hung up all around the room like a gallery. I could see so much pride in every single one of my students faces as they showed off their hard work to parents and their classmates. 
This was a project in which students of all different strengths got to shine-writing, reading, creative thinking, exploring other languages-I didn’t see a single student unhappy throughout the project other than in trying to find solutions to making a project work the way they wanted it to. I am so grateful to have been a part of it and to have had such a great example from my CT of how to make a project like this be successful and cater to the learning targets.

 

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The above diorama was made by a student that wanted to make a diorama of the tragic tsunami in Japan. His detail and research that he did to make this authentic is so powerful.

 

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This is an example of what a finished map puzzle looks like! This was one of my favorite projects, and many students did them. This allowed students to research the geography of their country or the state, and identify important landmarks and features of the place they are studying while also applying their artistic abilities. This student really wanted the tops of the mountains to look authentic, so we went and found white paint so that she could make the mountain tops look more realistic. Once she had finished coloring, she glued the map (printer paper) onto tagboard, waited for it to dry and then cut it into puzzle pieces. 

 

 

Mathematical Misconceptions: Supporting Students

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This week, I’ve been working with a student that very much struggles in math. This student, Maggie (pseudonym), tries so hard to participate and be a part of class discussions, to be successful in math. However, somewhere there is a disconnect that myself, my CT and Maggie’s parents all are working to put together. She does so well when given formulas or taught algorithms, but when it comes to understanding the numbers and concepts, there is no understanding. After meeting with other teachers, the next steps have been to work with Maggie one on one throughout the next month to try and build more understanding of concepts that she is missing in her math repertoire. The first thing I have been doing is working to see if I can help her develop an understanding of “more or fewer”, a concept that she struggled with in 1st grade, and now as a 3rd grader she is still struggling through it. The first picture above shows the final step that I took in eliciting an answer on which color block has more. Before this, I had asked her to count out the blocks, and then I had asked her which color block had more blocks, and how many more. To this, she initially answered that the blue blocks had 12 more than the yellow, and the yellow blocks had 8 less than the blue. When lining the blocks up like this, she was able to revise her thinking and tell me that the blue blocks had 4 more, and the yellow had 4 fewer. 
In the second picture, Maggie tried to show me a strategy that she learned to make her 8s multiplications easier. This was a strategy that I had taught and that my CT encourages students to use. She tried to show me what she learned, but got stuck partway through. I tried to talk her through understanding why it works to separate numbers out like this to make a multiplication problem more accessible, but the understanding of what she was doing when she split the 6 into the 5 and the 1 was really doing. The bottom left corner of the picture shows what she was trying to do; the strategy that she was trying to use. This tells me that she indeed is paying attention in class and trying to make sense of strategies, but the number sense is not there yet.

In working with Maggie this week, I’m feeling grateful that as an intern, I have the time and ability to support this student one on one like this. I know that my CT would do the same if she could, but often teachers have so much else going on that without extra support, finding time to work with students one on one to try and develop and elicit their thinking is challenging. 

This week I had the opportunity to do a lot of teaching. I taught 4th grade math the last two days, and I started recognizing over those two days which students were not grasping the concepts that we were learning, though I found myself frustrated in trying to find the time to work with each of them one on one after going over their exit slips. I found myself throughout the rest of the day looking for any opportunity to talk to the students that I wanted to work with and slyly sneak in a chat about the math talks we had done in the morning. 

As a future teacher, I want to grow and learn to find out how best to support students that are struggling on a regular (and timely) basis to ensure that they don’t fall behind their classmates, but also to ensure that they are really understanding the numbers and operations that they are using. 

 

I started yesterday’s math lesson with a warm up that looked like this:

9+3=__+4

I got answers on white boards that looked mostly like this:

9+3=12+4=16

I’m so glad that I was able to take this discussion from Allison’s class and bring it into this lesson. If we hadn’t started this lesson with a discussion about equality and the equal sign, the rest of the lesson would not have been successful. Learning about students and their understandings and misconceptions is key to understanding next steps. I’m recognizing more and more why my CT uses the time in between math and Specialist each day to meet with students one on one that struggled in their math exit slip. After talking to her each day when she finishes looking at the exit slips, she isn’t necessarily able to reteach the students that are struggling in those couple of minutes, but she is able to gain a better understanding of what her class is missing as a whole, and what she should emphasize on the next lesson.

Snails and Science

 

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In our science methods course this past week, our instructor brought in snails for us to observe! These were snails that her two elementary aged daughters keep as pets, and were found out in town nearby. Our quick observations of these snails and their behavior and features was possibly the highlight of my week. Why? Hands on learning! Not only did I learn a whole lot about snails, but I also was given ideas about how to incorporate classroom pets into the science that I implement in my future classroom. I learned more things about snails in that twenty minutes of watching them truck around on the trays than I can count on fingers in toes, so I can’t imagine how much my students could learn from keeping them as classroom pets for an extended period of time. I also love how these snails are accessible to students in their own backyards! I know that I left feeling inspired to (someday) go out and search for snails in areas near my house; how cool would it be to create a habitat in which snails could live and grow in my house, too!

In interviewing my students on their perception of what science is and what their involvement in science truly is, I learned a great deal about my students and the class as a whole in regards to their experiences and feelings towards science. What I learned from asking them various questions (What is science? What does a scientist do? Are you a scientist? Do you like science, why or why not?), I learned that most of my students see science as a very confined, directed thing that they only do in school. While some expand their thoughts into science being the act of observing and experimenting and asking questions about the world around them, this is not the majority of my 3rd and 4th graders that I interviewed. Working with the snails this week pushed me to think about how I could push my students to see science as something that they can do on their own, for fun! They can be scientists out in their own world, away from school, but they can also be scientists at school. 

I plan on telling my students about my experience with the snails, and suggest that if they’re interested that they mention it to their parents. At the very least, I will hopefully open up the idea that they can self start their own science experiments, and that science isn’t as confined as they think it is. I will continue to think about how to reach students that don’t see things like experimenting with new recipes for dinner or observing their dog’s behavior as science. Interviewing students about their perceptions on science is so eye opening about the kids that I am teaching, but also frustrating as a teacher to not be able to say, “No! You do science all the time! Can’t you see!!!” I hope that I can continue to develop my ideas on how to make science more visible to students.

 

How many dough balls go in this tote?

This morning I went to work to make the pizza dough like I do every Sunday morning at work. Today was different because I was working with someone that isn’t used to doing morning dough shifts, so naturally he had a lot of questions for me. What surprised me was that as he asked me his questions, I realized how much MATH I have to do at work!

How many totes of cheese does 4 blocks of cheese fill? -Three
So how should I cut the cheese blocks? -In thirds, then in half, then divide them into 3 equal parts.

If I want to make 45 family sized dough balls and 12 family sized dough balls fit in one tote, how many totes will I need? Will I have some dough balls leftover?
What if I want to make 49 large sized dough balls and 15 large sized dough balls fit into one tote, how many totes will I need for those? Any leftovers?

What are the dimensions of a tote of family sized dough balls if the tote fits 12 dough balls? -3 by 4. What are the dimensions of a tote of large sized dough balls if the tote fits 15 dough balls? -3 by 5.

I got to thinking about our visit to campus from our 1st and 5th grade math buddies, and how much fun it was to walk around and find math happening all around our campus and in our worlds. IMG_0717

Where DO we see math in our world? How cool is it to discover it ourselves?

This furthered my thinking into how I see students respond with such enthusiasm when I see teachers using real life math examples. Even further, I began to think about a particular student that I have that struggles a lot in math. When my coworker asked me to answer his questions, I thought about what he was asking visually. I thought about how many dough balls I see in the tote, and I saw the array that I’m used to seeing when I fill a dough tote. This is math that I do every week mindlessly without realizing that I’m doing it. Part of what I notice about this student that struggles is that she freezes up just knowing that it’s math time. What if I presented math to her in a setting in which I’m not telling her that it’s math time, but I’m just posing questions to her and allowing her to work out the answers in her own way? I got SO excited when I realized that I was doing math this morning, and I wonder if my CT and I could create an atmosphere in which math isn’t as threatening to her.

Teaching with Respect

This week, I had the opportunity to take on a lot more teaching than I have done in the past at my main placement. With my cooperating teacher out for the day on Wednesday, and the sub being more comfortable with me teaching, I taught the entire day! It was an early release day, a great day for me to get my feet wet and feel what it’s like to be responsible for a full day of learning. Given that I hadn’t taken on that much teaching in the past-most  of my experience has been in teaching small group math, walking to and from specialists, running word work groups, etc-I was concerned mostly about how I would handle behavior issues throughout the day.

I have talked a little bit about how classroom management works in my main placement, but I’ll start to elaborate on it now. The high-trust psychology model is based building relationships and trust with students. The beginning of the year was centered around allowing students to understand that as teachers, we are not here to punish or reward but we are here to help guide learning in productive and meaningful ways. Creating a community of trust, respect and communication is crucial. In doing this, students develop understandings of their guidelines for achievement (picture coming soon!) These guidelines include basics like being on time and coming prepared, but my favorite of them all is that students will respect their rights and the rights of others to learn. This comes down to how we behave in the classroom-listening and speaking with respect. To go along with this, lessons were taught on respectful listening behavior (SLANTS), and how to show respect with your face when you are talking to people (eyes/eyebrows up, smiling, etc). Students are held very accountable for following these expectations. If students have off days or struggle with any of the expectations in the classroom, they are given opportunities to “try it again correctly”. If an issue occurs that requires time to discuss, the student will talk with the teacher later on about why something is inappropriate. My cooperating teachers are very cautious about how they approach these issues-they don’t yell or get angry, in fact, they are very careful to be sure that the student knows that they are not angry, they just need the student to know that the behavior isn’t acceptable in the classroom. They approach issues in a way that students don’t feel threatened. Students leave the conversation or the interaction being reassured that they are not in trouble, but they have the opportunity to correct their behavior-and most of the time they do.

On Wednesday, the day started out better than I had hoped. I was expecting to struggle with classroom management as I haven’t quite figured out how to use the high trust responses that my cooperating teachers use, but I was determined to try it on and be as successful as possible with it. I got through an awesome reading lesson, smoothly addressing little issues that came up here and there. However, later on as I tried to do a whole group math lesson (my students are used to being split up as they are a split class), the energy level went way up and my quick and calm method of addressing issues weren’t working as well. I had the class go back to their desks from the carpet, and we had a discussion about respect.

Why might I be disappointed right now?

Do you think I feel respected right now?

Do you think kids that were trying to share their thinking and kept being talked over feel respected right now?

What could be done better next time to make things work better for us?

In high trust, it all comes down to finding the solution. I had to make sure that this discussion was all about moving forward, and not leaving my kids feeling like they were in trouble. While having this discussion was frustrating and difficult, I was surprised at my ability to keep calm and facilitate a productive discussion. I was worried that students would leave for lunch thinking that I was mad at them-but also wondering how I could find the balance between not being “too angry” but also not letting the behavior slide. When a student asked me if I was going to tell my CT that they were bad kids, I was able to turn it around and say no, of course not-because they aren’t bad kids. The discussion turned to talking about how we have good days and challenging days, and in challenging days, we have to work to understand what we can do to feel better and be more successful. I was so impressed by the maturity of my 3rd and 4th graders; by their ability to have this conversation productively.

Talking to my CTs about this later, they told me that this was the first of many times that I would have this conversation with them as I continue to take on more teaching-that this is a conversation they’ve had to have a couple times throughout the year so far, and that it’s good for the students to see that it’s important to me to maintain that atmosphere of respect in the classroom even when their main teachers aren’t there.

I’m still developing my understanding of high trust and how to use it effectively. My CT told me that with more observing and practicing, it just comes naturally. I’ll continue to learn and develop my understanding and hopefully be able to continue to discuss it here!

Project Learning Tree Workshop

Today’s Science Methods class was a workshop from Project Learning Tree! Going into the workshop, I was skeptical about how much I would learn as I have taken the workshop through a course that I took to complete my Education minor. Boy was I surprised! Taking this workshop a second time was very eye opening to me. Not only are the lessons that PLT brings to us very important for students to experience, leading them to better understandings of the world around them-but I learned much more from taking the workshop a second time around as I was listening and thinking from a teacher’s perspective rather than an undergraduate perspective.

Project Learning Tree is an environmental education organization designed to support educators. It provides curriculum aids through available lesson plans, alignment with standards and opportunities to get students involved in understanding the environment. PLT also provides examples and ideas of ways to incorporate their lessons across the curriculum. Today, my cohortmates and I were able to get hands on with some of the lessons that PLT designed. We were able to do activities in the classroom, as well as explore other lessons out in the forest as well! Being able to experience what our students would be experiencing through PLT’s lessons was so incredible. These lessons were informative, engaging, and FUN! I remembered doing most of these activities from the first time that I took the workshop. The difference is that this time around I’m thinking about how to incorporate these lessons into the classroom. I’m thinking about how I can go from learning about the water cycle to writing a story about the life of a water drop; taking a science lesson and pushing it further into a writing activity. Versus, “oh yeah, that was a pretty cool activity.” Pushing my thinking into how I can make these lessons work for my group of students is so exciting!

One thing I really loved about this workshop is that we talked about allowing students to develop love and understanding for the environment around them. Allowing for that connection to be made is so much more powerful than pushing for immediate action from students. When students understand what is happening in the environments around them, they may develop their own ideas about what they can do. Or, they may later on be ready to think deeper about the impacts they can make on the world around them. I know that I left today thinking about the impact that I make. 

My very favorite activity that we did today was going out into the forest, standing in a circle, closing my eyes and being silent, while counting on my fingers each time I heard a sound from nature around me. Though there were kids out at recess playing nearby, I felt so peaceful and thoughtful listening closely for the sounds. I can really see this activity being exciting and meaningful to kids. I know it got me excited to further explore the area we were in! 

A Week in Reflection

This past week I have loved being back at my main placement. I love my students, my two CT’s, my school-all of it. I can’t pick one particular moment this week that stood out to me, but as I look back at the last week, I’m reflecting on a conversation that I had with my dad. We were discussing the importance of being passionate about the work that we do. He claims that he’s not passionate about his job-but he loves that I had come home every day this past week just thrilled with the day that I had-for good or for bad. Each day I had come home talking about the different kinds of lessons my CT’s taught, the cool “ah-ha” moments I saw from students, joyful conversations I had with students, lessons that I got to be a part of and what I learned from being in the classroom-doing exactly what I want to be doing. Or getting there, anyways. I keep telling people that I am exhausted-but it’s the best kind of exhaustion.

The best moments this week have been moments when I get to see students working at their learning. This group of students work so hard to learn together and to help each other succeed. Talking to my CT about a new student brought me back to thinking about how to best create classroom community in my future classroom in order to allow students to feel safe to work at their learning in this way. Having a new student means building that relationship with that student just as we had done at the beginning of the year with the other students. As I’m working with students in small groups or one-on-one in reading and math, I recognize that students respond better to me when I feel that I have built a stronger foundation of trust between the student and myself. Learning about my students and them realizing that as their teacher, I have their best interest at heart-and that I actually care about them as individuals is the key ingredient to a successful student. Learning is a fragile thing. It can go one way or the other depending on the student, the day, their life-how they’re feeling. It has been amazing to be back in the classroom this week to be reminded of this as I continue on in this program.