Thursday, October 27, 2011

Week Nine: Use Your Resources!

This week I found an unexpected source of dad. He isn't usually the first person I go to when I have an educational question (if it's one of my parents it's usually my mom because she's a professor), but I was stuck. I was trying to write two lesson plans, one for class on Friday and one a formal lesson in my World Studies class, and I had no idea what kind of activities I wanted to do. I was talking to him on the phone about my lesson on group work and remember saying something along the lines of: "So far all I know is that I need to USE group work in my lesson ON group work...but that seems fairly obvious." As a businessman and project manager, I don't see why I didn't think to ask him...he WOULD know about effective and ineffective teams, wouldn't he? After years of experience and countless professional conferences on effective management he definitely had a thing or two to say! What did I learn from this? USE YOUR RESOURCES! Sometimes what you really need is right in front of you.

I'm still struggling to come up with ideas for my lesson on unions and the rise of socialism/communism for my World Studies class. I firmly believe that the less time I spend in front of the class and the more they can teach themselves through activities and guided discussion, the better they will learn and the more they will be able to engage in text-to-self reflection. Unfortunately, my lesson is a transitory lesson that is strongly knowledge-based...but I don't want it to be. This is my chance to pique student interest for the rest of the upcoming union (in which they will be looking at the development of unions, socialism, and communism throughout the world). How do I engage students when my lesson is essentially a summary of British Industrialism and an introduction to new concepts/definitions/people? I can't expect them to be interested or engaged when I'M not interested or engaged!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Week Eight: Q&A

It was definitely strange being back in the (college) classroom this week, but I enjoyed having the opportunity for discussion, particularly in writing our questions on the board and the ensuing debates! I sincerely hope we'll have a chance to address some of the other questions that people had (that was probably the most frustrating part...not being able to get to everyone's questions). I'm also enjoying the beginning of the new Feinstein book, though our reading thus far has largely summarized the last book. I think it will really help address issues that we are all concerned about having to deal with in our own classrooms, and I look forward to reading more!

Other than that, I'm anxious and excited to be teaching in field next week, right now more anxious...the excitement will come when my lesson is planned and I'm not worried about the "how am I going to make this interesting" portion. I think having some time off and hearing about other people's experiences has inspired me to try to get even more involved in my classroom. I should be excited about going to field and in order to get to that point I need an "I made a difference moment" IN the classroom as well as outside of the classroom!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Week Seven: Making A Difference

I'm home for Fall Break and my brain is slowly shutting down, so hopefully I can remember everything I planned to write about...hopefully! Here it goes: Field this week was very much like field has been every other week. I didn't get to be as active in the classroom as I would have liked (though my cooperating teacher had intended to have me help this week, we just ran out of class time). On the flip side of that, however, I have a topic and date for my first lesson, which will cover unions and the rise of socialism (post-Industrial Revolution in Britain) in my World Studies class. I'm excited and am brainstorming possible activities (unfortunately every time I do this I get "Food, Glorious Food" stuck in my head...which might also have something to do with my grumbly stomach).

The thing that had, by far, the biggest impact on me this week was not something that happened in the classroom, but while attending my professional activity (a *INSERT NAME OF ORGANIZATION HERE* meeting). The *INSERT NAME OF ORGANIZATION HERE* is a group comprised of the mothers of *INSERT NAME OF HIGH SCHOOL HERE* graduates who have since joined the military. They organize activities for Veteran's Day, hold a Military Appreciation night, organize donation drives for care packages, send letters (written by the younger students) to military members, and organize a "50 Flag Salute" for soldiers' homecomings.

The women at the meeting explained the tradition of the “50 Flag Salute” in which they place three signs on the lawn of the returning soldier reading: “*INSERT NAME OF ORGANIZATION HERE*”, “Welcome Home”, and “50 Flag Salute”. Around the signs they place fifty flags representing each of the states the soldiers fought to protect. I was given the honor of creating the "Welcome Home" sign that would be displayed on the lawns of all of the returning service members. I cannot even begin to describe how meaningful this was for me! I had the opportunity to talk to the mothers there, listen to their stories, and do something I am passionate about (and I got to COLOR)! There is no feeling more wonderful than the feeling that comes from knowing that you made a difference, and I MADE A DIFFERENCE! However indirectly, I know that through that sign I am welcoming each of those soldiers home...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Week Six: Tedious But Worth It!

The mentor teacher interview this week really helped reassure me and make me think about field placement this week. I think that now I have a better sense of the class and maybe a better sense of how to approach teaching my lessons. If nothing else, I know that the door is open and I can continue to ask questions of him in the future. I had requested permission from my cooperating teacher to record the interview and realized as I was asking questions that this was very much practice for my I.S.. Then when it came time to work on my reflection and submit my questions I decided to take it a step further and use this assignment as an opportunity to practice my interviewing and transcription skills. Just to provide some background, I am conducting an oral history I.S. in which I look at the changes in veteran perspectives through specific, personal "turning points" in the conflict.

Other than that, my field placement has been very similar to field the past couple of weeks. I would like to be more involved in the classroom, and am going to take this up with my cooperating teacher again next week. In the meantime, however, I'm slowly getting to know my students and was particularly optimistic when I got one student to open up to me. She is one of the students that often doesn't participate in class and is generally quiet and unengaged. She's also usually one of the first students in the classroom every morning, so I have had a chance to talk to her and get her engaged in the mornings. Lately she seems to be more vocal in class and more engaged and enthusiastic!