Sunday, June 21, 2015

Breakthrough Orientation and Training Weeks

Week One

This past week, I haven't been laying around the house or occasionally going to work.  My summer has been officially kicked off because I've started not only the two jobs that I've done previous summers and during the school year, but I've started teacher training.

I feel bad, because I came to work in north St. Paul feeling a mixture of excited and annoyed.  Excited because this is a job directly related to what I ultimately want to do with my life, but annoyed because I had so little information coming into the week.  I didn't know what grade or what book I was teaching and I didn't know which elective I was teaching.  I only knew that I was teaching literature.  So it's taken me all week, but I have warmed up to the job quite a bit, especially now that I have more information and can start preparing now.

I am trying to move on from the thought that I would have like to have started preparing a couple weeks ago and I'm trying to move forward.  I go into major planning mode this week as we meet with our Instructional Coaches, or ICs.  These are people who are certified teachers.  Their job is to support us, the Teaching Fellows, in lesson planning and making adjustments to what we're teaching as needed.  They're also there for general support, since they've actually taught before and in classes that are probably two or three times the size of the classes we'll have.  That's not saying too much because between my two literature sections, I have fifteen students.

So now I know that I'll be teaching 8th grade literature (so we'll be reading Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck) and that I'll be co-teaching a TV/Movie Production elective class.  I can begin to foster the level of organization that works for me now.  Slowly but surely, I'm gaining more control over the work I do.

Week Two

This week, I found out that I am a co-Art Director this summer.  I have quickly learned that Breakthrough is part summer school, which I knew about, but also part summer camp.  So we do a lot of cheers and games to keep students' energy up during the day.  We also picked a theme (Time Travel!) for the summer and then had to decorate the main parts of the school according to that theme.  My job, since not a lot of people felt confident in their artistic ability and I felt more confident, was to go around the building making preliminary drawings for the walls and lockers.  From there, we asked everyone to stay after and help support hallway decoration and pitch in.  I so wish that I had pictures, but that'll have to wait until next week.  We have a Time Machine, a couple time portals, an Ice Age scene, we have a camel to go with the "Arabian Nights" scene (that camel is adorable-- he's so round!), we have a couple dinosaurs... we have a lot of stuff.  It's absolutely amazing how much a school can transform after about three days of work and 40 sets of hands pitching in.

This week has also been heavy on lesson-planning and on practice teaching.  It hasn't been clear until this week how much effort lesson-planning would take.  We were given objectives and proving behaviors for each of our subjects and we could edit those plans as we saw fit.  The thing is, no one told us how terrible the original lesson plans were.  So in the literature department, 7th grade and 8th grade literature alike, we've basically had to start from scratch.  I only have a few lesson plans completely done (I'm going to have five finished by the end of the day), but they are drastically different from what was originally available for lesson plans.  I have a game about making character inferences (thanks to one of my fellow teachers), I have a history lesson planned about the Great Depression, I have my students making character maps... very different from looking at a paragraph and looking at the different parts of that paragraph.  That just sounded really boring to me.

This week, I also had a chance to meet some of my students, two of whom are my advisees.  I think meeting the kids we were going to be working with got everyone excited.  All of the kids who came to the open house on Thursday were so shy that we as the teachers had to go up to them with the biggest smiles on our faces and say, "Hi!  My name is _____ and I'm going to be your _________ teacher this summer!" and then we'd bring them over to our posters and talk to them and answer their questions.  They were the nicest kids.  They had the most involved parents.  I had a mom come up to me and tell me some of her concerns about her child in regards to school.  The other parents stood behind them, letting their student meet their teachers and they stood their smiling, happy for their student.  It was such a cool thing.  I won't be able to get over it.  There was even another literature teacher who studies history, not with a teaching concentration, and she said, "I think I want to be a teacher."  That was even more beautiful to me.

So next week, bright and early Monday morning, we'll greet the kids straight off the bus, we'll play games and have breakfast, and then I teach my first class.  I'm equal parts nervous and excited.  I feel prepared though.  I have my lesson for Monday ready to teach.  We've had two weeks of training leading up to this.  I change my mind.  I think I'm more excited than anything.  Sometimes excitement can feel like nervousness.

1 comment:

  1. What fun to read your frustration turn into excitement. I hope that this week goes very well for you. Too bad it starts out stormy, but then, the students won't have thoughts of beach, biking and other things they can do on nice summer days. I look forward to future blogs.


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