24 March 2015

March 24th 2015

Our Community of Praxis group just finished our third and final presentation regarding different factors that affect learning strategies for students with a low socioeconomic status. After our presentation, I thought about my students that were the prominent influence of this inquiry. On my last day of teaching, we took a group photo that I will treasure forever.

22 March 2015

March 22nd 2015

Lately, I have been thinking about what happens to these students after grade five at Donwood Elementary School. Chances are, I will never see these students ever again and I am anxious about what life has in store for them. As I taught at Donwood, I felt the exponential attachment of students towards me and I knew that I motivated them to improve their educational experience. I realize that a teacher is a motivator, a peace-maker, a leader, and the list goes on... I think that a child always needs a cheerleader and someone that they can rely on. I saw how crucial my role as an adult was in the classroom.

20 March 2015

March 20th 2015

I am going to attempt to let myself let go, and feel emotions within this blog. In my posts, I tend to state the physical nature of things and not why those things make me feel a certain way. Thinking deeply is a skill, and one that I have only been introduced to, this year. I find it extremely frustrating to channel my inner thoughts at times because I feel like I cannot relax and just let my mind think and be. I see a child with a behavioural issue and I begin thinking about the theorists, and my personal philosophy. Rather than taking a moment to consider the timing of the situation or the underlying reason of, 'Why am I here in this moment?', I jump to the external world of a viewer. However, I know that I have been taught so many lessons that I will carry on for many years. I guess I feel very privileged to experience the behavioural issues, the sarcasm,  and the classroom dynamic. I think that some aspiring teachers may have these concepts in their head of their exact classroom and the children that they will have and how they will teach the curriculum in the context that they are in, but dream all you want. I think being a student teacher at Donwood has allowed me to realize that adapting to situations is really everything. My last day of practicum is here and I am feeling uneasy. I have a wonderful attachment to the students and I look forward to going back at times to help out whenever possible. But, for the remaining day, I will enjoy it with them and celebrate the marvellous memories we have made and the lessons we have mastered through this experience.

16 March 2015

March 16th 2015

Today the teacher I work with had a very stressful day. She was struggling with issues within the school and outside of school. During recess, she needed to find a quiet space and relax. I understood, and I began cleaning the classroom and doing odd-jobs here and there. The students are young and naive and have yet to understand more of life's complications and responsibilities. It was noticeable that the teacher was struggling (emotionally) today, and I empathized with her. The students however, gave her a really hard time today and I felt frustrated for her. I have yet to know what kind of classroom dynamic I will have but I thought this picture was interesting. It is entitled, "10 Secrets to Surviving as a Teacher". The title itself gives reason to believe that Teachers have a unique job where we have to wear many different hats. 

I like the different points that this picture suggests. Number 1 states, "Be Like Tree", this triggered our community of praxis metaphor is relation to our inquiry involving low level socio-economic status students. The Tree itself is the teaching and learning relationship. The roots below the tree is the parental involvement and the natural genetics behind the student in mind. The tree trunk represents the teacher, reaching out to the parents and connecting with the branches, which is the curriculum. The side branches that stick out in random places are the alternative curriculums 'Hidden + Null'. The leaves that grow from the branches represent the content that is taught from the branches (curriculum), and the apples that grow from the tree are the students. The context is the environment which plays a role in the development of an apple. The sun and rain can help and nurture the apple, and a tree cutter can also put the apple in an unsafe environment. An apple needs proper attention and growth to prosper with the supporting roots (parents), the guiding trunk (teacher), the branches (curriculum), leaves (content), and the environment (weather/outside conditions and factors).

The other points are significant as well. Number 3 states, embrace that it's not about you. A teacher plays a role in the development of a teacher and I think the attention should be entered around a child's development. 

I think Number 8 contributes to chapter 10 in the textbook, 'Instructional Strategies'. This chapter discussed several different concepts of classroom goals. I think it is crucial that a teacher understands individual goals and classroom goals. This will further develop students and it will also show signs of growth when you reflect on the year that passed. 

The take aways of this picture are... 

1. Be Flexible

2. Prioritize

3. Be Resourceful

10 March 2015

March 10th 2015

I was currently wasting the day away looking at various photos on Pinterest and came across a teaching and learning board. This photo closely relates to our current topic of discussion - Motivation.

March 10th 2015

Last week, we had a reading that was centralized around motivation. Motivation has intrinsic and extrinsic factors that play a role in the overall determination of an activity. Teaching grade 4/5 students is very interesting as is, however, a few particular students display their motivation more predominately than others. Some students (in my case, the girls in the classroom) are more independent workers and complete their work to stay ahead in the classroom. They work on goal setting sheets and apply their cheque marks to their boxes as they complete activities. We have several challenges with the young gentlemen in our classroom. They do what they want to do, when they want to do it. They have separate rules made up for them and require special attention from the teachers. Motivation can be targeted in many areas. The boys in my class are motivated to cause chaos. This has been a struggle to stay on task. Classwork - demotivates many of the students and they get into a slump where their behaviour worsens and they become less cooperative.

Yesterday was no exception to this concept. Half of the students were away on a school activity called 'Little Jets'. Therefore, we only had about eight students for the majority of the afternoon. The smaller class promoted and allowed more concepts in class to be discussed. However, we had a substitute teacher yesterday which throws off the working mentality of many students. There are plenty of contributing factors that play a role in the student learning relationship. I am slowly learning about these contributing factors on a first hand basis.

5 March 2015

March 5th 2015

In our community of praxis, Understanding Learning, we presented our second informal lecture to the class. To introduce our topic we played the song, Jackie Brown by John Mellencamp. This song has been beautifully written and connected very well to our inquiry. During our presentation, we neglected to really divulge more information from the lyrics. Therefore, I listened to the song on repeat and analyzed the lyrics. The song is a storyline of a man's life and the challenges that he faces on a day-to-day basis. His insufficiency does not only affect him, it affects his entire family. The raw lyrics were very emotionally charged and were loaded with background information that had underlying meaning. I believe that some students in my practicum have underlying issues that we as teachers, do not know about.

The quote, "It takes a village to raise a child", is very significant in the educational process. We saw a picture in class of different bubbles. For example, the student, their parents/guardian, teachers, and peers all have contributing factors to develop a child. I am happy to play a role in a child's educational success.

3 March 2015

March 3rd 2015

I want to have a classroom where students do not feel uninterested by a routine.  Through experience, I have seen a few students in my Donwood elementary school practicum that act in an absurd way at times and make unsuitable comments out loud about how ‘boring’ our class is. When occurrences like this happen, I become agitated. When I hear negative comments about school or teachers, I become offended and take the comments to heart because I know how hard (the grade 4/5) teacher works to better the students' lives. With that said, I think that some teachers do become comfortable with routine and rarely move away from their tiresome tactics. 

I am currently developing a basis for my teaching and learning philosophy. I want to encourage myself to apply activities in the classroom that facilitate comprehension in different ways. For example, the textbook gives an example like, provide an organizational chart that co-operative learning groups fill out. This is a visual example of how groups can work together. It is incorporating two different aspects of learning into one and making the learning experience more beneficial for the students. 

In our current classroom of grade 4/5 students, there are also many cases of anxiety. The teacher keeps a scheduled routine for those students with anxiety issues, as well as a boy with autism who fears change. The teacher may not always like having the same classes in a row, day to day. But, it is suitable for the classroom dynamic and it accommodates a successful inclusive approach.

1 March 2015

March 1st 2015

I am past the half-way mark for my teaching practicum requirement. It has been a roller coaster ride thus far. I have truly been grateful for my experience within this grade four/five split class. When I was initially given Donwood Elementary School, I was anticipating children, like myself from the North Kildonan area. We grew up in loving homes, many of the North Kildonan community go to churches within the area and we are a small community. However, Donwood Elementary School has thrown several curveballs my way. There are days when I am truly grateful for my position in the school and somedays I wonder why I have been blessed with a truly, great practicum. The teacher of the grade four/five class teaches me so many wonderful lessons about the classroom dynamic, life lessons, and how to go about issues within the school. She treats me like an equal - like a fellow teacher. I feel a sense of comfort surrounding me when I am teaching the students. When I hear a student call out, "Ms. Pauls, I have a question" I get chills. I take a moment to appreciate the journey that I am embarking on. I smile to myself, and sometimes I even imagine this classroom as my own. When the teacher is busy in the hall with students or running off to the library and leaves me in charge, I feel very independent. I know that the students trust me and value me.

When I connect with some of the behaviour challenged students, I feel like I can make a small change by giving out a compliment or asking about their adventures that they have been on. When I listen to the children, I feel like they look into my eyes and feel a sense of appreciation for my notion of interest. Recently, I gave the teacher an idea of what my class did when I was in fifth grade. Every week we had a V.I.P. student. V.I.P. is an acronym for 'Very Important Person'. Each week, one student was assigned to be the V.I.P., they would have their school photo posted on the whiteboard. We would learn a fact per day about their life, and they would have a presentation of themselves at the end of the week. I introduced this weekly activity to the teacher and her eyes widened with delight. I felt overwhelmed and content that I contributed an idea worth doing in her classroom. Starting today, we will be choosing our V.I.P., and I cannot wait to learn more about these students that I have been blessed to teach for a short semester.

25 February 2015

Feb 25th 2015

Today, Ms. Hemphill (the grade 4/5) teacher was away for a doctor's appointment. Usually, when she away Donwood arranges a particular substitute teacher to come in and teach. As you may have noticed the trend... our class is incredibly active, inappropriate, and disruptive. A sweet older woman came in to teach today to teach and the class treated her terribly. The children were bouncing off of the walls, they were screaming, and throwing jenga blocks at one another. I felt incredibly anxious all afternoon. Sometimes, I would just shut my eyes and take a deep breath to try to regain interest to fix a situation. I would try to separate the students causing an uproar and they would talk back to me or completely disregard my existence. At this point, my teeth clinched together and my eyebrows raised. I wanted to either send these kids out in the hall and have a discussion with them or send them to the principals office. But, I am only a second year education student. I have no authority to choose disciplinary actions. I became quite frustrated and realized that my angered thoughts took me right out of the classroom situation. I took some worksheets and began marking and tried to focus on something that I could succeed in.

We had a sharing circle at the end of the day and one boy raised his hand to speak. The substitute called upon him and I just knew he was going to say something negative or inappropriate. He opened up his mouth and said, "This class is dumb. I hate this school. We do the same thing over and over again. I'm so bored and I can't wait for it to be 3:30". I shook my head and looked to the ceiling. The substitute flat out called him rude. I lost control of my face and looked down because I had a smirk on my face. Many of these children don't respond to direction and therefore need an alternative way to connect with the children. Today was okay, but I must admit, 3:30pm was a good time to call it quits today!