I have been extremely busy this summer with classes. I am taking three during the second summer session, which started at the beginning of the month and will end in the middle of August. I am really enjoying one of my classes called Collaborative Teaching Partnerships in Inclusive Classrooms. It has really forced me to think about how I will work with my colleagues to meet the needs of all of my students, and has given me some experience with collaboration through group projects and papers.
I am hoping that the next entry I write will be about my job for next year; I am expecting to find out my teaching placement for next school year relatively soon. I was told by the district that I should know by the end of the week, and I am definitely looking forward to hearing from them. I am really excited to find out where I am placed so that I can start planning for the school year, and put all that I have learned and experienced at Warner to good use!
I have been keeping busy, even though I am not taking any classes during the first summer session here at Warner. I have been substitute teaching more often. Last week, I was in for a first grade teacher that I co-taught with during my practicum placement. On Monday, I subbed for my cooperating teacher from the fall. It was really great to be back with those students. They’ve all learned so much this year; it was great to see how they’ve grown! I was also in kindergarten classes for a few days. I really enjoy working with students in the primary grades. I still don’t know what grade I will be teaching next year, but I really hope that it will be with younger students. I feel like I could be an effective teacher with any elementary grade level, but I think my literacy background would be most beneficial with younger students. The excitement and interest of younger students makes them a really enjoyable age group to teach!
I have also been working on my thesis. I am still doing a lot of reading, note taking, and digesting what I am learning. I am hoping that in the next couple of weeks I can really start putting my thoughts on paper, because I would like to have my thesis handed in before the second summer session starts.
The end of the semester flew by. It was filled with final papers and presentations, balanced with substituting and more interviewing with the Rochester City School District. It was a busy few weeks!
Last week I attended the Teacher Placement Fair, where those of us who have open contracts for next school year were able to meet and interview with some of the principals from schools around the city. It was nice to be there with future colleagues, and exciting to think that all of us would be new teachers in the district once September rolls around. I was able to interview with 9 or 10 principals, and really liked some of their ideas and goals for their schools. Many of the schools still didn’t know for sure what vacancies they would have for next school year, so I have a few more weeks to wait until I either interview with more principals or find out if any of the schools I interviewed with are interested in hiring me. There were a few schools there that I am really hopeful about, and a few that weren’t at the fair that I am interested in as well. I’m getting anxious to figure out where I will be next year so that I can start preparing for the school year!
Last Friday, I got a phone call from the Rochester City School District. They were calling to offer me an open contract for next school year! I stopped in Monday afternoon to sign the contract, which means I have agreed to teach in the district beginning in September. I have to wait for the district to figure out which schools have openings, and then I need to interview with individual principals.
Even though I don’t know what school or what grade I will be teaching in, it is so relieving and exciting to know that I will have my own classroom! I really do think that my time at the Warner School, especially my participation in the Urban Teaching and Leadership Program, helped me get my foot in the door. It feels really good to know that all of my hard work has paid off.
As part of my practicum placement this semester, I am spending some time at the Kirch Developmental Services Center at Strong Hospital. It’s a med/ed clinic where kids are referred for diagnostic testing. They spend half of their time there with an educator, who administers a variety of standardized assessments and the rest of their time with a developmental pediatrician. The whole team meets to discuss each child and to come up with a diagnosis, instructional recommendations, and information on these conclusions to give to parents.
It has been a really interesting experience for me. I have been able to learn more about and administer some of the assessments and it has been valuable for me to see both the educational and medical sides of the whole testing process. Most of all, I feel that I am learning a lot about how to communicate with parents. I have been able to observe how these different professionals communicate with parents in a way that is informative, but not judgemental and I think that is a very important skill to have as a teacher. I think that this experience will make parent teacher conferences and other similar situations much easier for me when I have my own classroom.
My job interview went pretty well last week. After I finished, I found out that it was the initial interview to help the district find candidates that they thought would be successful urban educators. Now I have to wait until they have a better idea of what job openings there will be for next school year and then interview with principals from specific schools that have vacancies.
I also worked my first day as a substitute teacher. It was only a half day with first graders, but since it was the last couple of hours before their vacation it was pretty hectic. It’s difficult to come into a new classroom and try to learn all of the student’s names in such a short period of time. I’m sure that it will get easier the more that I do it, and it was being able to spend some time in a school that I had never been in before. I think that substitute teaching will be a good opportunity for me to get a feel for the different schools in the district and to start networking with various principals.
My interview with the Rochester City School District got rescheduled, so I will be interviewing tomorrow instead of today. I was a little frustrated at first, but this gives me a little extra time to prepare.
I had my first lesson observation in the Pre-K classroom that my practicum is in. My supervisor came, along with the instructor for my seminar class. I taught a lesson on mixing colors. We read Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh, which I think is a really engaging and age-appropriate book to teach the concept of mixing colors. We did a whole group activity where we mixed colors in plastic bags. For example, I squirted some blue and some red paint into a ziploc bag and passed it around for the kids to squish the colors together. They really enjoyed the hands on aspect of this activity and were excited when the colors mixed together to make purple. From there, they worked in small groups on paintings, where they were able to experiment with mixing colors. I feel like the lesson went pretty well; I was happy to see the kids engaged and interested. I look forward to hearing any feedback and suggestions from my supervisor.