Saturday, July 11, 2009

Week 1 of teaching!

Notes about abbreviations/TFA talk: collab=collaborative group

It is now 11 A.M. on Saturday, and I have officially completed my first week of teaching! It actually went surprisingly well...but there were some interesting moments along the way.

Each day this week I taught the first 70 minutes--opening circle, classroom newsletter, read aloud, and literacy centers.

On Monday, my timing went well, and we had a great start. I had the fun task of teaching them how to line up, and I am SO proud of them--our lines are pretty darn awesome. Plus, they definitely know what it means to sit Criss-Cross Applesauce on the rug.

Monday and Tuesday=assessment days. We needed to see where our kids were so we know what we need to work on the next 4 weeks. As much as you read about and hear about the education gap, you certainly see it at its worst when you are assessing 4 and 5 year olds about to enter Kindergarten.

Now I'm sure you're thinking that at 5 there can't be THAT great a range in our students' assessments. Everyone starts preschool on the same foot right?

I think one of the most shocking assessments I completed was a phonics assessment, where I showed each student a card with a letter on it. One went like this:
What letter is this? 7
What sound does this letter make? 19
What is a word that starts with this letter? 14

We have a student who speaks Vietnamese at home--so while his math assessment (counting, sorting teddy bears, and making patterns with cubes) was pretty strong, he did not say a word during the phonics assessment. He can write his name in cursive (and very good cursive), but it is hard to communicate with him.

During the reading comprehension test (I did a Read Aloud and then the students had to draw two pictures of something that happened during the story, where it happened, and who was there), we had a couple students who did not draw anything even close, and then we had one student whose drawing was impossible to understand, but he verbally explained both drawings and actually scored the highest on the assessment. While his comprehension is high, he does not have the hand strength to properly hold a crayon or pencil, which has been very frustrating.

On Thursday, I tried practicing writing his name with him to work on his hand strength, but he got so frustrated! The only way I was able to get him to continue writing was to have him trace the words: Luke Skywalker, light saber, and Star Wars. He LOVES Star Wars, which may be the way we get him to stay engaged for the next 4 weeks.

On Wednesday, my first real day of teaching (because assessments were finally over), I was observed by our School Director, the head of institute, and some other important person. Talk about adding to my nerves! I am sure that for about half a second if you saw my face you could have seen my anxiety (I had no idea that they were coming), but the lesson actually went really well! We read a book called No, David!, and I was teaching the kids how to identify feelings. They did AMAZING. Thank goodness!!

I have fortunately been sleeping, getting into bed at about 10:30 each night. Some people have been up till 4 or 5 A.M. everyday (which is not so good seeing as our bus leaves at 6:30).

It's been a wonderful second week--I know horror stories always abound about institute, and maybe I will have some after the next 3 weeks, but so far, I really can't say much more than I already have learned SO much, have improved SO much in the classroom, and I can't wait for next week. I will, however, thoroughly enjoy my weekend and resting up even more.

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