Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Computer Class

Well, I guess I could say I was the lucky one in this case. This time, I got to sit back and observe what was going on. I guess you could say that I was on the outside looking in. As most people know, I did not have to take the computer class because I already had this class. I am extremely grateful that I have already had this class, actually. I took this class two years ago, I think. I took it under Dr. Clif Mims at the University of Mississippi. He was an excellent instructor, and he showed us so many neat things that we could do with the computer. Out of all the classes that I have taken to receive my master’s degree, I would say that this was definitely one of the most beneficial classes to me. He showed us how to build a webpage,shortcuts in Word, and how to do neat things with PowerPoint. I still use some of the stuff that the taught us. This course was so helpful to me. He taught us how to make animated figures pop up on the screen and dance. He also showed us some awesome websites were we could get valuable material. Do I remember everything that he taught us? No. But, I have used a lot of his methods in my classroom when it comes to technology. Some of us in Mississippi Teacher Corps do not use Power Point. Why? Because some people do not know how to properly use Power Point. They will tellyou that they do not know how to use it. This course (the one that I took) would have been so helpful to everyone! It is something that we can actually use in our day to dayteaching lives. The whole point of this program is for us to take classes to help us become better teachers. These courses need to show us new methods and ideas to carry backto the classroom. In short, if it won’t benefit me in the classroom, then I don’t need it. This is one class that was an excellent course to offer to teachers. Technology ishere, and it is the future. In short, I believe that it is my fellow 2nd year teachers who have lost out in this battle. They could have learned and used these valuable resources that they could have been taught in an actual computer course.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Good Thing

I can definitely say that I have seen a lot of things in summer school at Holly Springs. A lot of things: Some good, some bad, some even worse than that. But, I am going to say one thing that I enjoyed about this whole experience. I enjoyed getting to watch other teachers teach. At times,was it boring, yes. It wasn’t their fault. They were not boring. It was just the simple fact of sitting there all day long. I don’t see how the students do it. It is torture. I mean, there should be some compensation in their grade for torture pay. I did enjoy watching others teach. For nine months, I sat in a classroom, and every day, I taught. I never got to leave my room to go and watch a fellow colleague teach a subject that I would actually teach. I had no way to gain information or new ideas. Now,I have a few that I can use. I already use a lot ofdifferent teaching methods in my classroom. I have some different ideas and projects that I can implement into my room. In addition, next year will be my first year toactually teach Algebra I. (It will also be an inclusion class) So, this summer has better prepared me to teach Algebra I in the fall. I now have a whole year worth of lesson plans, work sheets, and activities. This is the bright side of the coin. I have two notebooks jammed full of information that I will not have to worry about in the fall. I would say that 70% to 80% of my planning has already been done for me. I am also teaching Transition to Algebra and Pre-Algebra in the fall. I taught these subjects last year, so I should be pretty prepared for nextyear. Hopefully I can take the time to implement even more teaching methods into my room next year since I have so many things already done for me. I guess the main thing that Iam excited about now is JULY! I need a break. I am beyond burned out.

Summer School Experience

Where do I begin with the summer school experience….. The first week was unorganized and chaotic. No one knew what to do. The lunch schedule was a nightmare. Fifty minutes with kids, food, and idle time does not make a good environment for anyone. After two days of this, the lunch schedule was finally smoothed out. The extra twenty minutes of review/remediation proved to be very useful. Overall, the kids have been great. We have had little to no discipline problems. However, here are a few suggestions for next year:

1. We need an MTC Administrator on sight at all times! No one knew who to report to with a problem. Joe wound up doing this role without the title. We had no one to report to with issues. In addition, we had no one to check in with each day.

2. You need at least two second year teachers in every room. If this is not possible, then give this room an extra first year teacher. I only had myself and another first year teacher for the first two weeks of class. So, it was difficult to do everything! I wound up doing double the work of all the other second year MTC teachers. I had to teach almost twice the amount of lessons. Plus, I had to be in the room at all times. Thank goodness I had Tiffany andAdryon. They were a lifesaver! If it should arise that a second year teacher has to be in the room by themselves, make sure that ALL of their first years will be here the first week. This would have been so helpful to me instead of waiting two weeks to get another teacher. But, who knows, next year, the person in my shoes may not have a lifesaver!

3. Have registration in advance. This will give us the necessary information before we ever enter the classroom. This will allow us to see how many students are in every section, and to see if we can eliminate sections, or if we need to add sections. This will eliminate having 28 students in one section of Pre-Algebra and 8 Students in one section of Algebra I. It will also eliminate having five teachers in one section for two students! This way, we could hopefully even out the numbers a little better next time. In addition, it is not fair to switch a teacher to a different subject after they have spent a week doing lesson plans.

4. Second year teachers need more incentives. We have already taught for 9 months (really longer than that if you count summer school last summer). We are tired and burned out. We are not getting paid for this, and now, we do not even have laptops to use. We are getting a $200 stipend (thatwill probably be taxed). We got a huge stipend last summer, so what about this summer. I mean, this was added to our program. So, can’t we get a little something out of all the work that we did? Can’t we keep the laptops or something? It appears that the morale among second years is lower here than it is on the war front in Iraq.

5. The computer class should not be a computer based class. I will have a separate blog about this.

These are just some of my thoughts about summer school. Overall, the summer school experience has been a unique experience. I think next year will be better. It will be better organized with more time and thought put into the entire process.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Effective Lesson

Lots of lessons are effective because there are many different ways to teach. Some students learn through listening, others by seeing, and then others by doing. To me, the best way to get a student involved in learning is to learn by doing. If a student is physically involved with the learning, then they are sure to learn and remember the information better. This past year, I taught Transistion to Algebra. At the end of the year, there is a unit on geometry. Geometry is one of my favorite math subjects because it involves so many real life situations. In addition, with the students that I am teaching, this is what they need to know about. Most of these students will not go to college. So, they will need to know about real-life applications.

For example, they will need to know how to calculate the area of a room to see how much flooring to lay down. They may need to know how to measure lumber to cut it to an exact length. There is a lot of neat and fun stuff that you can do with geometry. For example, when you teach the Pythagorean Theorem, you can bring a ladder to school. Tell the students how far the ladder is up on the wall and how far away from the wall that it is. Then, the students calculate the length of the ladder. It is a great hands on assessment. This can be used to see how far a ladder needs to be extended to reach a certain point on a wall with so many feet from the wall. Furthermore, I developed a neat way to use measurement. I divided the class into partners. Each group was given a tape measure and a list of items in the room. It included everything from the floor, the door, to the clock on the wall. They had to measure these items, then calculuate the area, perimeter, or the circumference. It worked great. The kids greatly enjoyed it, and they were actually learning using hands on activities. Plus, they will remember this stuff because they were involved in the learning.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Corporal Punishment

By growing up in Mississippi, I was always use to corporalpunishment. Since the first day of class, I remembereveryone being afraid of getting a paddling. Hence, therewas order in school. To this day, I continue to supportcorporal punishment. I have come to realize that corporalpunishment does not work in all situations. At times,corporal punishment does work, and it does get the job done. At other times, though, there are more appropriate means ofpunishment. For some students, it is no big deal to get apaddling. In fact, some students prefer to get a paddlingrather than be suspended for a day, go to in-schoolsuspension, or do community service. On the flip side,though, there are those students who never want a paddling. They would much rather sit in in-school suspension or pickup trash outside. I taught this student one time who triedto get community service. He enjoyed going out of schooland picking up trash. I guess it gave him a sense offreedom. So, he would try to do minor things at school toget put in community service. Everyone eventually caught onto what he was doing. He wanted to get written up so hecould pick up trash. He did not, however, want a paddling. So, in his case, corporal punishment did work for him. Onthe flip side, sometimes, corporal punishment is a way forstudents to get out of doing punishment. For example, I hada student one time who was given community service at lunchtime. Hence, he had to clean up the cafeteria aftereveryone had eaten. He hated that. There was no way he wasgoing to do that. So, instead, he decided that he wouldrather take a paddling than have to perform this lunchcommunity service. So, here corporal punishment would notwork. This is what he wanted. In short, yes, I do supportcorporal punishment. Is it always appropriate? The answeris simply no. Corporal punishment works for somesituations, for others not. In addition, corporalpunishment works for some students but not others.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My Student, Sam

I remember the first time that I saw Sam. He was a tall boyof about six foot two inches. He was only in the ninthgrade, but I understood that he was an outstanding footballplayer and a leader on his Junior Varsity team. I laterunderstood the rest of Sam’s story. Sam came from amiddle class family. His father worked in the constructionbusiness, and I am not exactly sure what his mother did. His parents worked hard, but that was the end of it. Thesupport that Sam received at home was zero, or maybe lessthan that. I had to constantly push him to do well. Forseven hours a day, I was trying to pull him up while hisparents were at home telling him that he was worthless. Needless to say, I had to start all over and try to undo thedamage that his parents had done the night before. The sadthing was that Sam was and is a good kid. His grades wereexcellent as long as he had somewhere there to brag on him. One time, I had to have a parent conference with hisparents. His mother did not show up, but his father wasthere. The conference was required, so Sam had done nothingwrong. It was mainly to talk about Sam’s future plans. Iknew that as sad as it was, if Sam left behind his home andparents, he would be a success in life. Their main role wasto unfortunately drag him down. Another teacher and I beganto brag on Sam and the excellent student that he was. Itold his father that he was a true success story if I hadever seen one told. At the beginning of the year, Sam didnot care much about his grades, but as the year went on, hebegan to care more and more. I believe he was finallybeginning to break free of his parents. As we told his dadhow proud we were of him, his dad began to laugh and tell usthat the must be talking about a different kid. He saidthat there was no way for us to be talking about him. Samleft that meeting lower than every before. I finally sawwhat he had to deal with every day of his life. The verbalabuse was insane. How could a parent hate their kid? Howcould they set them up for failure. It was beyond me. Yetonce, again, as I walked Sam back to class, I began my joball over again. I began to undo what his father had justdone.

Summer School, so far

Wow, it is hard to believe that the first two weeks ofsummer classes has already passed. It is even harder tobelieve that the first week of summer school has alreadyended (Thank goodness!). Now it is time for the 1st yearsto begin to take over the reins with us as 2nd years in thepassenger seat, but still close at hand. I have not met oneof my first years yet. She will be here on Monday, Ibelieve. I hope so because she is missing out on watchingme teach so much. The first week of summer school was alittle rocky at first. There was some confusion with theadministration, and the entire running of the summer schoolprogram. After 4 days, it appears that we finally have thelunch system figured out. I hope that it will stay the samefor now. Everything inside the classroom is running well. Adrian, Tiffany, and I work extremely well together. (Thank goodness that I have someone that I can work with and havefun with. ) In addition, we have two verydedicated first year teachers who I believe will be a hugesuccess. Jamilia and Hunter work well with us, and theyappear to have a great excitement for teaching. To behonest, the summer school program is a little difficult tohandle. Maybe I’m just getting out. Since I am the only2nd year in my room, I have had to already teach elevenlessons. That was a bit much for me in the first week. Iam okay with teaching eleven lessons in one week, but whenit is eleven different lesson (especially four differentlessons in one day) it is a bit much to handle. But, Istill pulled it off some way. Anyway, as this progresses, Ibelieve that it will be very beneficial to the first years. Most importantly, they need to get the most in classroomexperience, and that is what they are doing. I believe inthe end that it will be beneficial to them once they get theswing of things.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The First Year

It is hard to believe that the first year has already come and gone. What did I think about it? It was great! I got to meet some great people, and I love the kids. The first year was very tiring. In fact, sometimes, I didn't know if I could do it. Some days, it was impossible to keep up. I felt like a dog running after a car at times. But, not matter what, it was worth it. Was everyday great? Of course not. Not everyday is perfect. At any rate, it was fun! I have finally learned that I love to teach. I can only imagine what the next years will be like. Right now, I plan on teaching forever (yes, this is coming from a first year teacher). I can't wait to get started on everything next year. I can only imagine what it will be like for next year.