Weekly Reflection 2/10/14 – 2/14/14

This past week was an interesting week to say the least. Friday was Valentine’s Day and we had a great celebration in my classroom. My students each received one of the boxes that I had covered with red/pink paper and they were able to decorate their boxes with stickers and foam hearts. The students really loved this activity and they made a bunch of cute boxes.

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            The students decorated their boxes on Tuesday after they listened to a read aloud about valentines. My collaborating teachers had another great idea of how to handle the valentines by requiring students to turn in their valentines by Wednesday. This allowed the teachers to collect the valentines ahead of time and prepare. If students forgot to bring in their valentines, they were allowed to bring them in on the following two days; however, by having a “due date,” the teachers helped to prevent any outbursts from a student not having valentines to pass out.

I brought in valentines for my collaborating teachers as well as my students. I based my valentines on a template that I found online as well as a favorite movie of my entire classroom, Frozen. I decided not to include any student names on the valentines so I would not violate the rights or privacy of my students. I also passed out my valentines discretely so as to avoid any complaints about one student receiving a “better” valentine than another student.

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Pictured above are the homemade, hand-drawn valentines that I made for my collaborating teachers.
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Pictured above are the four valentines that I made for my students. Student names are not included but I did write my own name, Ms. Leonick, on the valentines.

I really enjoyed the Valentine’s Day celebration in my classroom. My collaborating teachers had great ideas of how to turn the holiday into a fun classroom activity. For example, every Friday we have a different celebration and this Friday was “Red Day” (in relation to learning about the letter “r” this past week) and so everyone in the classroom wore the color red to class. On Friday we also had a “friendship party,” which I believe is a great way to celebrate the students in our classroom because the focus is on friendships and making sure everyone is included in the celebration.

I was also able to mail out the valentines for my friend outside of class. I have not yet received a response from this friend; however, her mother (who knew about the surprise beforehand) is very excited and was actually brought to tears by the kindness of my students. Below is a picture of the valentines in the envelope as it was mailed to my friend. (Her name is not included in order to protect her rights and privacy.)

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***

            Although I had a lot of fun in the previous week, one of my collaborating teachers was unfortunately out on Valentine’s Day and she will be out for the next two weeks. The information came as a shock to me and to be honest, I was a bit horrified that she would be out. My other collaborating teacher was supposed to be out of the classroom for the final week of February so I made the immediate assumption that I would be “alone” in the classroom (with the help of substitutes instead of my collaborating teachers) for an entire week. Although I have had a lot of experience in the classroom due to the Urban Teacher Residency Partnership Program (UTRPP) at the University of South Florida (USF), I was afraid to take over a classroom “by myself,” especially since I would be in charge of two classrooms. However, my collaborating teacher assured me that she would be here for the final week of February so only one of my collaborating teachers would be out. This information was still a bit unsettling and we had some difficulties with the classroom on Friday.

I am a bit nervous about the next two weeks in the classroom but I will do my best to help out my collaborating teacher in any way necessary, including taking over some of the duties of my absent collaborating teacher. I have already begun to do this by grading papers throughout the day and performing the morning duties of checking binders in the morning. I was trying to take over the morning duties that my other collaborating teacher does in the morning because I wanted to help out when she was originally going to be out the classroom but I think my efforts would be best served performing the duties of my absent collaborating teacher.

Currently, my collaborating teachers perform co-teaching through a synchronous teaching format, which Barnard Badiali defined as “team teaching” (Badiali, B, Titus, N. E., 2010, 78). Badiali considers team teaching to be “the closest form of instructional partnership” because it “carries the greatest amount of shared responsibility” (2010, 78). I would love to be able to accomplish this with my collaborating teachers but I do not think I will be able to do this in the next two weeks. I am currently participating in “mentor modeling” and “one teach, one guide” methods of co-teaching in the classroom. In “mentor modeling,” or “one teaching, one observing,” one person, either the intern or the teacher, observes the other work (Badiali et al, 2010, 76). I currently spend my time as the observer because I want to learn from my collaborating teachers before I step in front of the classroom so I can be well prepared for my students. I also; however, participate in “one teach, one guide,” (also known as “one teach, one drift”) which occurs when “the primary responsibility for delivering instruction falls to one teacher while the other teacher circulates around the classroom to provide individual help to students” (Badiali, 2010, 76). I have found this method of co-teaching to be extremely valuable because it has allowed me to get to know my students well and work with them on an individual level.

My goal is to attain a level of “synchronous teaching,” but I understand that this will take a long time to develop so I will continue to observe my collaborating teachers and help out in the classroom. Since one of my collaborating teachers will be absent for the next week, I will try to take over more responsibility in the classroom in order to help out as well as gain more experience with teaching. I am nervous but also excited at the same time. I know that these next two weeks will be difficult but I think I will gain so many valuable experiences and knowledge from my time in the classroom with so many students and only one collaborating teacher.

Acknowledgements

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