I am already feeling the end of the semester crunch, and it’s only March! I have got a lot going on in the next couple of months. I’m anticipating that the rest of the semester will go really well, even if it is super busy.
I attended a Writing Workshop at the Warner School last Friday. It focused on writing extended texts, and I went with a couple of friends to try and get some support and guidance on our Master’s Essays. I came away from the workshop with some good resources and a renewed sense of motivation. I spent the weekend looking through a lot of the books and articles that I have been collecting over the past few weeks. After a lot of reading and a couple of e-mails with my advisor, I think I am ready to write my proposal and get started. I am going to explore the ways that writing conferences in the elementary grades contribute to a child’s identity as a writer and author. I’m excited to get started now that I have a clear focus, and I hope that I will be able to make a lot of progress on it in the next few weeks.
Next week, I will be attending the substitute teaching orientation for the Rochester City School District on Tuesday. After that, I can start subbing a couple of days a week; I think that it will be valuable experience and it will be nice to spend some more time in the classroom. Next Wednesday, my supervisor is coming in to observe me teach a lesson in the Pre-K class that I am in.
Last, but certainly not least, I have an interview with the RCSD next Thursday for full time employment next school year!
Schools are closed this week for Februrary Recess, so I won’t be going to my practicum placement this week. But last week, the class that I worked with during the Fall Semester invited me to help chaperone their field trip to the Strong Museum. It was nice to see all of the kids again and see how much they have learned since I left in November. We all had a lot of fun, and I was able to speak with the principal there about substituting and possible job openings for next school year. It would be really nice if my time there as a practicum student could lead to a possible job for next school year.
I have officially submitted my first job application! I got an email confirming that they recieved it, and then another letting me know that I should get a call in early March to schedule an interview. I’m really excited about having my own classroom, and I hope that my interview goes well enough to promise me a job… keep your fingers crossed for me!
Yesterday I went with the class on a field trip to the Strong National Museum of Play. Both the morning and afternoon classes went together, and I was pleased with the number of parents and family members that joined us. I think working with children and their families at this age is really interesting. The students are really excited about school and about learning, and parents are eager to see their children succeed. The optimism and excitement from both the children and their families is refreshing. It’s nice to be a part of these early schooling experiences because families are so hopeful, dedicated and interested in their child’s development and learning. There seems to be a very different dynamic between parents and teachers than I have experienced with other age groups; there is a very strong focus is on growth, learning and progress, without interference from reading levels, test scores, and grades.
Our trip to the museum was really fun. The kids had a blast, running from one exhibit to another. For many of the children, it was their first time there and they were excited to see all that the museum had to offer. The day was full of play-based learning. Opportunities to role play, wear costumes, sing, dance and interact with other children were all closely tied to each child’s learning. This field trip helped give me a better idea of how children of this age learn, while providing an opportunity to build a sense of community amongst the teachers, parents and children.
Classes are going smoothly, and I am readjusting to all of the reading, writing and class discussions here at the Warner School. I received an email this week from the Warner Graduate Student Association. They are trying to organize a monthly meeting to show and discuss movies and documentaries related to education and human development. It sounds like it would be a good opportunity to meet more people from the Warner School, and to spend some time thinking about and discussing issues of education outside of the classroom environment. I’m glad that there is a student association working to strengthen the Warner community.
I have also been thinking about getting to work on my Master’s essay, which according to my program of study, should be completed this semester. I have been thinking about some possible topics but haven’t narrowed them down enough to start the researching and writing process. I am hoping to get in touch with my advisor sometime in the next week to discuss in some more detail my options, the requirements and expectations for the Master’s essay so that I can get to work on it. I am hoping to choose a topic soon, and then dedicate a few afternoons each week to working on it throughout the rest of this semester.
After a busy but refreshing winter break, classes have started up again for the spring semester. Since my literacy certification will be Birth-6th grade, I am taking a couple of classes in early childhood education. All of my experience in the classroom so far has been with elementary age students so I think that these classes, as well as my new practicum placement, will be full of new experiences. I am also taking a class which focuses on assessment. I am grateful to have a class about assessment and I am hoping that it will help build my knowledge of, and experience with, different forms of assessment.
As I mentioned, I began my new practicum placement. I am in a Universal Pre-K classroom in an urban school. I have never worked with children of this age and I think it will take a little while for me to adjust. I feel a bit out of my element in terms of lesson planning and teaching, but I am also really enjoying myself so far. The kids are so excited about learning and they seem eager to participate in any activity presented to them. I think that working with this age group will definitely be different than what I am used to, but I also think that it will be a lot of fun. I look forward to integrating new ideas and knowledge from my early childhood classes into my time in the UPK class.
Other than that, I am still working on job applications. It takes a lot of time and organization to get together the transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, certifications and everything else that school districts ask for! I’m hoping to have everything done in the next couple of weeks; I’m anxious to get out there and start teaching!
Since my field experience has ended, I have been focusing a lot more on the academic side of things. I have been spending a lot of time on the computer and in the library (both on campus and off) working on a case study, unit plan, and a final research paper. The majority of my days have been spent doing a lot of researching, writing and revising. While I am feeling a little bit stressed out, I’m glad that I am interested in what I am working on. Each assignment is either directly connected to my field experience, or focused on a topic that I chose to learn more about. Finishing up my case study has been rewarding because it has allowed me to synthesize a lot of the work that I have been doing in class and in my field experience throughout the semester. I am still working on putting together my unit plan and I have a long way to go on my research paper. I am writing about language minority students in mainstream classrooms, and some of the issues that arise for both teachers and students. As I work on my research, I am finding a lot of interesting information and I am looking forward to finally sitting down and writing this paper sometime soon. One thing that I definitely appreciate about the Warner School is that all of my professors are available through email or by phone to give me feedback and suggestions as I am working on these projects. It’s nice to have the support of the faculty, as well as the support of my peers. Not only does it make the working and writing process easier, but I also really feel like all of the collaboration and discussion (in class and through email and phone conversations) really helps me work through my own thoughts and understanding.
Tuesday was my last day at my field placement for this semester, and I can’t believe it is already over! I am sad to go but I feel like I have learned a lot and gained some valuable experience in the field of literacy. My cooperating teacher is planning on writing me a letter of recommendation, and she offered to hand deliver my resume and information to the school’s principal, which is exciting since it’s time for me to start applying for jobs!
When I originally applied to the Warner School, the fifteen month program really appealed to me, but I am still surprised at how quickly I am moving through the program. I am hoping that my experiences in Rochester city schools in combination with Warner’s programs will give me an edge when it comes to finding a job.
Once I finish up my papers and projects for this semester, I plan on focusing my time on the job search and application process so that I can have my applications in before next semester starts. I am interested in teaching in an urban setting, and have been researching job openings in a few nearby districts. I have been looking into the placement file services that the Career Center offers on campus, and the program they use seems really convenient. It seems to be run electronically, with 24 hour access. I’m working on scheduling a meeting with the Career Center to talk more about this, and figure out what I need to do in order to transfer my placement file from my undergraduate school as well.
It’s exciting to think that by next September, I will (hopefully) have my own classroom, or even better, be working as a literacy specialist! Regardless of whether I find a job as a literacy specialist or as a classroom teacher, I look forward to having the opportunity to try out new teaching ideas, work with students on a daily basis, and reflect on my own teaching in order to become a more effective educator. I am nervous about looking for jobs, but I feel confident that my undergraduate and graduate experiences have prepared me to be a competitive candidate, and I am excited to begin looking for employment.