Friday, January 18, 2008

News from 2nd Grade, Week 1.

Well, it's started! I've been thoroughly welcomed with a solid and sudden (but not entirely unexpected) dunking into the great wide world of second grade. I had the chance to work with second graders before, during my pre-pre-student teaching in my sophomore year, but that experience was one morning a week and nowhere near as challenging. This is a challenge I can rise to meet!

My cooperating teacher is awe-inspiring. She has taught for longer than I've been alive, which means she's great at her job. I'm already learning so much from her that I've had to start taking notes to keep it all straight! She's blunt, but she's honest (something I really respect) and once I got over the initial "cold" feeling I got from her, I realized that not being babied or getting warm fuzzies all day is exactly what I need to really get through the next seven weeks. It's going to be very busy, and she is a very demanding person, but I feel like I will do much better in her classroom because of her expectations, and it's exciting to know that she appreciates me being in the room even when I mess up.

This week has tired me out and I feel like I should be in bed by now - the habit of getting up at 6am has started to settle in so I don't want to mess it up too much by sleeping in till 10 on Saturday... goal #1, "Get up on time" is slowly but surely becoming a reality. I still feel rushed most mornings because I'm groggy for the first half hour and don't move as fast as I should, but between getting up earlier to avoid feeling rushed and actually being a few minutes late on occasion, I'll take being late. I hope that as the semester goes on I'll get faster at writing lessons, so I can go to bed at an earlier time (I haven't hit the pillow before 10pm yet!) but I also know that as my lesson-writing gets better I'll have more lessons to write (we're supposed to be doing 25 per week by the end of the semester, and that means that I have to try to do so by midterms when I change placements (oh, dear!). Still, a whole week of 6am wake-ups is a good start for me - usually I slip up and stay in bed. Not a proud moment when it happens, and this semester is doubly important so I'm going to keep dragging myself out of bed. The coffee maker will be a great help. :D

Exercising is threatened by the sheer amount of work I have to/should/volunteer to take on and so I've been thinking about getting it in on weekend mornings... that will serve two purposes - to get me up at a set time so I can settle into a weekend routine (which will in turn keep me more on-track about getting work done on weekends!) and to make sure I fill that goal of twice-a-week exercise - once on Sunday and once on Saturday! It's not the most practical work-out schedule ever from a health perspective but until I get my actual academic work under control it'll probably be easiest for me, and if I feel that it's workable I can add a third day on Wednesday to balance things out a bit.

Cleaning came to a standstill as of Monday - I need to set aside a day to do major tasks like laundry (probably tomorrow, ugh!) and make time to do minor ones like the litterbox (which usually doesn't get clean unless I do it :/) in the afternoon when I come home. I'm going to make a concerted effort to keep cleaning up the kitchen but I don't want to let cleaning take over the time I need to spend on lesson planning so the house may be messy for a while... we shall see. If this weekend goes well, next should be easier.

And internet usage, my other daily goal, has dropped to almost nothing. Because I spend so much time on lesson planning and other bits and pieces of student life as of Monday morning, I haven't had time to check my e-mail until tonight (Friday night). I guess I should be laughing that it takes a workload so heavy my head's still spinnning with things I've got to work on in order to make me stay away from the computer, but I'm on the computer a lot anyway, writing plans, and I'm technically online - just that I'm spending 90% of that time following links to online teaching resources, or looking up the PA Education standards for the nth time so I can write objectives to match them.

It's been a busy, busy week and I feel like I haven't had time to sit down although I know that last night I spent a few hours doing nothing of consequence, just to celebrate having lived through most of a week in a busy classroom. The class is great and I'm happy to be there even though my management techniques need some work because I'm running myself ragged trying to keep them all in line and focused and on task. I need to start differentiating my instruction (making the lessons easier/harder for some of the kids, for those who don't speak teacher-talk) so that's the goal for the next few lessons I write. My co-op has me reflecting on everything she can, mostly my lessons and improvements I could make for next time but also what she does in the classroom - how she teaches, how she gets the students' attention, various finer points of the curriculum and scheduling, and on occasion the prospects of getting a job, how to deal with gifts or snacks from the kids without offending if we can't have/don't want it (we had cupcakes for someone's birthday today, yum!), and where she keeps papers and more papers and more papers. I'm still getting my sea legs, so to speak, but so far I've handled myself well enough to merit a sigh of relief at not setting myself on fire (inside joke from my supervisor - he's had a student teacher so nervous to be observed that they actually lit themselves up during a science lesson). And speaking of science, I'm in full charge of the science unit we're doing next because it's a new STC kit and she knows I have "experience" (I looked at one, once) with them... plus the whole lesson requirements thing. I have to teach something, it might as well be something I like and know to start out with. XD Mostly I'm just slightly nervous (or maybe it's indigestion? ;p) about getting through the increasingly demanding second and third weeks... if I can live through those, and the weather is nice enough to not force me out of bed early to clean snow off the car, I think my life will be running smoothly. If not? Well, sometimes roller coasters can be fun...


  1. Good god. If I had to write complete lesson plans for all my lessons I think I'd go mad! (But I remember doing it when I was doing teacher training, and spending HOURS on them.)

    I do, however, write a lesson MAP. This is for the students. I write it at the edge of the chalkboard at the start of class, so the students know what to expect. It's a very simple map, but at least they don't have to feel completely lost with the weird gaijin teacher.

  2. It's reassuring that you, greatest of teachers (at least in my mind! I'd love to have had you for a class) had to spend hours on lesson plans too :)

    A lesson map, eh? What a great idea! I wonder if I would be allowed to make one for our daily routines... in addition to the lesson plans, of course.

  3. The students seem to appreciate the map. I hear them mumbling while I'm writing it up, and discussing it amongst themselves. I think it keeps them oriented.

    The lesson map is what was left when I stopped making detailed lesson plans, and I totally recommend it. Once you get used to teaching and get to the point where you're working from the vast repository of teaching plans in your head (which is where they all end up, jumbled horribly), you'll probably find that like me, actually, if I'm to be perfectly honest, it keeps YOU oriented.