Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Kindergartener in Freshmen Year

Day 9-
I swear this kid must actually be five years old.  So the same sainted child that I had to be best buddies with on Tuesday was acting up today.  He was touching everything, making faces, being loud, distracting others.  He needs to have something to do ALL.  THE. TIME.  I don't know if I have the creativity to keep him that occupied unless I have him start cleaning the classroom or something.  I was having a lovely conversation with one of the girls, and he came up and grabbed a boxcutter from next to me.  I grabbed it out his hand so quickly as I saw all the things that could happen with it flash before my eyes.  Yeah, bullet dodged.  I'm glad the kids can approach me and talk to me.  I like talking to them, and hearing about their lives.  Thinking about it now, it's probably a good way for them to practice English, and me to practice their languages.  I really do love these kids right now, even my little kindergartener.  He's got a good spirit to him, and he's obviously a funloving guy, but he needs to calm down in my class or I will lose it.  The rest of the activity went well.  We now have rockety-looking rockets!

There're the things on the shelf.  The morning class went well too.  One girl came in a blustering about what's going on in Fukushima (nuclear waste leak due to damage from the earthquake a couple years ago) and man she was passionate about it.  Ended up having a really good discussion.  Anyway, onwards to tomorrow and see if we can make better plans for the rocket construction so I won't lose my mind.

Bottle Rockets Part 2

Day 8-
So today was a great example in how planning can really benefit a class.  We assigned partners, we assigned volunteer order, we outlined expectations and therefore, we were pleasantly surprised (or not really surprised, just please) with how smoothly bottle rockets went today.  Also, I feel a stronger bond with the first period we had today.  I'm not sure if that's because they're my primary class or just because there are some great kids in the class.  Over all the classes, I'm shocked with how well a lot of the kids get along (knock on wood.)  The best part?  I got to lead part of the experiment!  And I made some fantastic mistakes that I definitely learned from.  I'm trying to get in the headspace of enjoying my mistakes.  I suppose that way I stay a bit saner than otherwise.  The next step with this process is the students will be designing and doing their own experiments, so I think a planning discussion over this is necessary.  

One aspect of Wednesdays I need to really consider is how long my day is and if I am able to keep swimming.  For my own mental health, I think I should but man, it makes the day that much longer and harder.  I'm already down to 6 hours of sleep on good nights, and so that's started to drag me down a little.  Let's see how it goes.  I just want to take care of myself.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bottle Rockets, Part 1

Day 7-
Disaster is not the right word, and I really mean that.  I would say henpecked is more accurately.  Let me explain.
In Conceptual Physics, we began bottle rockets, which is so much potential for fun.  They're water and air pressure powered soda bottles, and they get some serious air, about 80 m in the air in one case.  So this class were wandering and chatting like chickens during feed.  They even were scrapping a bit, also like chickens.  I had the pleasure of using my stern voice.  It's hard to yell at kids when you don't know how much they understand.  One rather persistent boy forgot his assignment paper, was wandering or touching everything and playing around with our apparatus.  My DT was fed up with his poor behavior and made him sit over by himself for a moment until he gained his focus.  He was my buddy for the rest of the day.  I stuck to him like glue and made him do all the work, taught him some English words and he taught me some Spanish.  Once he was on lockdown, the other kids mellowed a bit, but still weren't quite listening.  The plan for tomorrow is to give them stricter guidelines before leaving the classroom.  We just went over the rules of the class yesterday!  But kids, like all humans, have the attention spans of...well, chickens.  Let's just say, I'll be having poultry tomorrow with few regrets.  
In other news, got some new yarn to make a scarf because it's important.  

Delayed Reaction

This is part one of a two day, two part post.  I'm doing them separately because I feel like that's more true to the project.

Day 6-
So today was a long day.  I decided to stay all the way to 6th period, partly because I really wanted to practice some delivery stuff, partly because I love those kids.  So, 6th is the higher English speakers, and I've connected really well with a couple of the kids.  They're the ones who actually say "Hi" to me in the hallways.  The part of today's class I helped lead was the discussion of class expectations, which went as well as that sort of thing ever does.  We had kids translate it into their home language to help others in the class whose language skills are still developing.  In 5th period, they were awesome about it and so quick to jump right into it.  Their posters, which were a pretty open assignment, looked fantastic, if a bit unfinished.  I don't know why, but I'm always impressed by how students just jump into open activities like that.  I was for sure a structure kid.  

This is a little backwards, because now I'm going to talk about the morning.  I came in, indulged in my latest addiction (COFFEE) and a young woman came in after me.  She's in the AP morning class and we just started talking.  I love talking to the seniors, because of that weird feeling that they think they're so adult, and I remember thinking the exact same way, but life is just beginning.  These kids have seen so much already, and it's just the beginning.  Kind of a fantastic dichotomy.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Another Nice Connection

Day 5-
Officially survived my first week.  Celebratory sigh on three...



Sometimes,  I realize how much I hold my breath during the day, like I just need to hold onto myself, when breathing would actually be a better way to do so. My brain is silly.  Anyway, today was CPT and  the last day of the observation lab for conceptual physics, as well as practicum for SFTR.  My role in the lab was to kind of direct students towards getting work done and facilitate our name game.  Today went so much smoother than yesterday in that respect.  They were all engaged after we had to make a bit of an example of our girl with attitude.  Once we did that, it was instant change for her.  She actually tried during the lab activity later, which is fantastic.  She's a student who's been around a bit longer, and we had a nice conversation and her behavior became a lot better, in my opinion.  My DT is really good at thinking of engaging language level appropriate activities.  I'm keeping a notebook of them for later for sure. 

The connections that I valued today were actually those with my other cohorts.  We were all exhausted at practicum, and we all showed it.  This exhaustion kind of united us in a weird way.  I actually found myself talking to and really connecting with people I didn't connect with during orientation.  Our community is really meshing so well, and I can honestly say I'm so happy to have them all in my life.  Of course, I still connected with those I was already close with, but I think I got a little closer to everyone today, and I felt like a part of the community, which I love.  I think this is another reason I want to get into teaching, that I want to help form learning communities where people are accepted and loved because they're different.  

Ok, time to eat.  Off my soap box I get.  Tomorrow, I'm library girl.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Nice Connectioin

Day 4-
Things were actually getting more or less underway today.  In the environmental science course, those kids actually got to dive into some good old fashioned content.  The kids were sometimes engaged, sometimes not.  I suppose that's the nature of trying to teach a huge class as well as a huge AP class. There's certain things that you have to get through in order to be considered a college course.  The workbook they're working out of is a really cool concept.  It's all about look at the economy and vocations from a green perspective and learning about it that way.  It's a college course through SFSU (my dear, dear alma mater) where these kids get real college credit.  Sometimes, I'm not sure they understand right now how amazing an opportunity that really is, but who am I to judge.  I didn't see what was in front of my face sometimes in high school.  Silly underdeveloped prefrontal cortex.

Onto my lovely physics kids.  Part of how the EL system works is they get evaluated and sorted by their english teachers, so the classes we've had all week are no longer the classes we have now.  Second period earlier was silent and uncomfortable.  Now, we have a larger range of abilities in the class and so there's more talking, they all work together and students who weren't trying at all yesterday are excelling today.  The biggest surprise for me was Miguel.  He's got a twin brother with whom he seemed rather attached.  They didn't stand out besides the fact that there were two identical faces looking blankly at me.  Today, Miguel on his own was forming hypotheses, writing fantastic english and following directions perfectly.  I can't wait to watch him develop.  We also have other hardworking and helpful students with fantastic spirits in the class, but he stood out  because of his major growth over such a short period of time.  Another student, Heyling, was so inquisitive today.  She was asking about all sorts of english words for the observation activity to create more complicated sentences, so I obliged her as much as I could.  

Lunch came next, and I spent a bit of it doing homework by myself when a student came in.  We'd talked about her future goals earlier and she found out I read comic books and she wanted to discuss them.  She's a fairly outspoken person and we had a great kind of getting to know you chat.  I think the reason she approached me is because I look relatively close to her age.  Some of these kids look older than me, and some actually are based on when they came to the United States.  She's actually in a special situation that she kind of has to figure her life out pretty quick, and she has ambitions and goals that are not easy to achieve in this economy.  My demo teacher says she has great ideas, but limited follow-through, and in the art restoration field, that's going to be tough but I have faith that this girl can do something fantastic with her life if she just gets in the right mindset.

One last thing: day two of swimming.  I both love and hate my own ambitions right now.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Going Swimmingly

Day 3-

I definitely was dictated by hunger today: a hunger to teach, as well as the physical feeling.  I really want to be in the classroom, and so leading an activity that was actually graded was fantastic.  The activity was a get to know you sort of thing.  Yesterday, because of massive language barriers, it was a bit of a case of pulling teeth for my demo teacher to get the students to talk.  Today however, that was not the case.  I didn't mention my expectations that "When I talk, you listen."

Lesson learned: Assume nothing is given, unlike math.

Anyway, there was talking over me and giggling in Spanish and Chinese, two languages that my fluency is rudimentary.  And by that, I mean nearly non-existant.  So I found myself getting a bit frustrated and feeling fairly disrespected and it was just not a great moment.  I didn't know how far I could push being a disciplinarian at this point, because my demo teacher is in charge and I didn't want to cross any lines.  It's difficult to not step on someone's toes in a situation like this.  We're working together really well and I feel really supported (like I hope she does too).  Anyway, the next time I did it, I set up expectations about when I was talking that students need to listen to me, that I'm not just talking out of my ass.

So physical hunger: started swimming again, which was a great idea expect I'm hungry all the time again.  I kind of love that, but it's going to get expensive.
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