T3: What You Need To Know Before Student Teaching

T3: What You Need To Know Before Student Teaching

I don’t dive into anything without research, so you can believe that I read numerous blogs and books before I started student teaching.  However, there is a lot that you cannot know without the experience itself.  Here are a few things that the student teaching experience taught me.

10 Things You Need To Know Before Student Teaching

1. Student teaching will be the hardest thing you have ever done.  I like to think that I have done some hard(ish) things in my life.  But I can assure you that student teaching was the most challenging of them all. Writing lesson plans, controlling thirty 10-year-olds, grading papers, trying to get enough sleep, and not to mention actually teaching consumed every second of my day.

2. You can’t quit.  Despite the difficulty, you have to keep the end goal in mind.  Every night, I would think, “Okay, only 117 more days until I graduate.  It will all be worth it when I have that diploma.”  With time, 117 days turned into 67 days, 37 days, 17 days, and eventually, 1 day.

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3. You won’t sleep.  Even if you manage to make it into bed, you won’t really sleep. At least, I didn’t.  I would lay in bed reviewing all of the lessons that I had taught, wondering what I could have done to make them better.  Then I would begin mentally preparing for any lessons that I had to teach the next day.  When I finally reached a stage of “sleep,”  I would dream about school.  Basically, I taught all night long.

4. You will love your students. Sure, they will drive you insane when, for the 18th time, they ask where they are supposed to turn in their reading test.  Yet, you will love them.  You will love walking into the classroom each morning and listening to their excited chatter about pandacorns and mermaids.  You will love it when they give you notes that identify you as “Mrs.” instead of “Miss” and make you feel like your mother.  You will love it when they claim that they have NEVER had so much fun in science.  You will love it when your underachieving student makes an 87 on a test.  You will love them, and they will become the reason that you write lesson plans, grade papers, and never get enough sleep.

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5. You have to schedule time for exercise.  I learned this lesson too late into the semester.  I think that my first 8 weeks would have been easier if I had allotted 30 minutes per day to just watch YouTube videos while doing a PIIT workout.  At the beginning of March, I set an alarm for 8:00 every night.  When that alarm went off, I stopped whatever I was doing to exercise.  The next 8 weeks were much less stressful.

6. It’s a very short time. As my mom told me at the beginning of the semester, “It is only 75 days (of actual teaching).  You can do anything for 75 days.  You can scoop manure for 75 days.”  (At the time, I told her that I would rather scoop manure.)

7. It gets easier. After the first few weeks of thinking “What am I doing?  Why did I think I could do this?  I am literally going to die from exhaustion.  The students aren’t learning anything”,  you fall into a rhythm. I will never forget facing a whiteboard to write a spelling word and thinking, “OMG!  I am actually teaching!  The students are actually listening!  This isn’t so bad.”

8. Organization is key.  I used approximately 7 different colors of pen, 6 pocket folders, 5 file folders, 4 binders, 3 calendars, 2 planners, and 1 overloaded Google Drive (I swear that I didn’t exaggerate for any of those) to prepare for each week.

9. Everyone makes mistakes.  Learn from them.  Most afternoons as I reflected on my day, I thought, “That was a dumb mistake,” but my dumb mistakes taught me to ALWAYS model the desired outcome, ALWAYS tell them where to put their finished work, and ALWAYS follow through on expectations.

10. Common Core math doesn’t make much sense.  It will make you feel like a chicken teaching fish how to climb a tree.

 

 

Change {And Why It Scares Me}

Change {And Why It Scares Me}

This afternoon I went on a walk to appreciate the beautiful colors of Autumn, and my mind drifted to the topic of change.

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I have never been one to like change.

I didn’t want to start first grade because I was afraid of staying at school after lunchtime.  Since my three closest friends transferred schools after fifth grade, middle school brought the fear of eating lunch without them.  When I moved up to high school, I was terrified of the upperclassmen.  The daunting world of college was more frightening than I thought I could handle.

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You see, I don’t like change because it is scary. I am fearful.  Change is terrifying.  I am frightened.

Despite my fears, I loved first grade–as a first grader, I learned to spell “long” words (like because and swimming).  In sixth grade, I became friends with two girls that stuck with me through the most awkward years of our lives.  Some of the upperclassmen that I played sports with in high school actually turned out to be friendly.  Furthermore, college has taught me more than I ever anticipated.

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I wish that I had learned the benefits of change by now, but change still haunts me.

When change happens, I have to face the unknown. I always like to know what will happen next, when it will happen, and how it will happen.  But when change occurs, those three facts are generally left up in the air.

And then there is the truth that change is painful.  Routine is comfortable, but change is unsettling.

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Yet, I know that change is necessary…Change is beneficial…Change brings progress.

Without change, we  might have pumpkins, but we would not have jack-o-lanters.  We might have trees, but we would not have the beautiful colors of Autumn.  We might have caterpillars, but no dazzling butterflies.  Pain might exist, but there would certainly be no knowledge or strength.

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Most importantly, change brings our salvation and sanctification.

In the past all of us lived like the world, trying to please our sinful selves and doing all the things our bodies and minds wanted. We should have suffered God’s anger because we were sinful by nature. We were the same as all other people.  But God’s mercy is great, and he loved us very much. Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace.  –Ephesians 2:3-6

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When I was still living a life of self-pleasure and sin, God’s mercy and grace were great enough to rescue me.  He changed me and gave me a new life.

So, as hard as it is, I will embrace the change that brings godliness, beauty, and hope.

 

Questions for you:

Do you like change?  How do you deal with change?

What is the best thing that change has ever brought you?

Top Ten Tuesday: Educational Games for Middle Schoolers

Top Ten Tuesday: Educational Games for Middle Schoolers

As an education major, some of our required assignments are nothing more than gathering materials to use in our classrooms.  In the present age, a list of web-based games is considered a necessary material.  Here are ten of my favorite games that I have found this year.

English:

  • Analogies – Students must determine which word correctly completes the analogies.  Words will only appear twice, so they need to think quickly!

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  • Guess the HomonymSum Some students have a hard thyme time trying too two to determine the write right  homophone or distinguish between homonyms.  This game can help.

homonymgame

Science:

  • Food Chain Game – As students learn about all the components of a biome’s food web, this game can help them review and practice putting producers, consumers, and decomposers in order.

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  • Photosynthesis Respiration Game – This game leads students step-by-step through the process of human cell respiration and plant cell photosynthesis.  Students must truly understand both concepts to successfully play the game.

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Social Studies:

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  • America on the Move – Perhaps the greatest evidence of our world’s advances is in the realm of transportation.  America on the Move provides three different games that help children learn about the history of transportation.

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Math:

  • Fruit Shoot Fractions – This game, reminiscent of Fruit Ninja, requires students to “shoot” the answer to a fraction addition problem.  Because there are many levels, students of many different grades can play the game.

fruit shoot fraction game

  • Pre-Algebra Addition Shootout – Children who love soccer will enjoy choosing their goalkeeper, jersey color, an skill level before solving a variety of simple algebraic equations.

shootout equation game

Health:

  • Arthur’s Lunch-o-Matic – This tray needs some Vitamin A!  Students must choose the food that fits the cafeteria worker’s description.  The game will help children learn the benefits of eating a variety of foods.

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  • Blast Off! – Children’s bodies are just like rocket ships–they need fuel!  In this game, students fill their plate with a wide variety of foods to get enough fuel for an active day.

blast off game

 

Halcyon Cookies

Halcyon Cookies

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In high school, you think that your teachers are crazy.  You know that you will never use their lessons in real life.  You will never recall portions of Beowulf for casual conversation, determine a ratio, or say, “Me llamo Catalina y tengo diecinueve años.”

You are wrong.  I have done all those things since graduation.

For seven years, I learned twenty vocabulary words a week.  As you can imagine, many of those words have been lost and are nonexistent in my normal verbal repertoire.  Nonetheless, a few words have persisted, and I feel accomplished when I toss them into a research paper.  Halcyon is one of those words: (adj.) golden, resplendent, serene.  These cookies are just that.

By now, you have probably seen a theme amongst my cookies:  1 mashed banana + 1/2 cup oatmeal + extras.  This recipe is no exception.  Golden raisins and sunflower seeds make these delectable cookies truly halcyon.

Enjoy!

Sunny Golden Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 overripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tbs. sunflower seeds (more or less depending on personal preference)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins (more or less depending on personal preference)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl
  • Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray
  • Drop cookie dough onto cookie sheet by spoonful and lightly press down
  • Bake 8 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let cool
  • Eat and enjoy!

What did you learn in high school that you still use regularly?