Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sometimes you just gotta laugh + TA

Oh my goodness. Drama, drama, drama. This week was full of ups and downs to be sure. My ups were WAY ups. They were epic, they were awesome. The downs really sucked, as they tend to do. Usually my downs coincide with things that just tick me off because they are so stupid. And the biggest down this week was no exception.

Alas, I have chosen to a) ignore it and b) laugh about it...because truly, the whole situation is ridiculous. Not to mention the aftermath is ludicrous. I won't be pulled between parties. If you think that's how I roll...well, you don't know me very well. The whole thing just makes me shake my head and go "really?" So for once I decided to just shut up and not respond (a miracle in and of itself--you have noticed I'm slightly outspoken, right?). 

It was a pretty decent week other than the stupid drama. We just started our last marking period. I had a sit down with my 4th graders on Friday because we had our first reading test of the marking period and only 7 kids passed with a 70% or higher. I reminded them that they know if they don't do well, they are going to have to do it over so why wouldn't you put in your 100% best effort the first time?? I asked them if they like doing things twice. They all responded "no" but I pointed out that they must because I had a whole stack of tests that needed corrections. I also pointed out this wasn't the first time my stack has been that big.

They grumbled about doing the corrections at recess but they did them. They know how it works. I think I am going to employ this strategy from the get-go next year. Puts the accountability back on the kids (which is where it should be) and allows them to understand and truly get the notion of effort. Sadly, effort is a commodity that many of them have chosen not to possess. I know this is because we (as a society) just pass kids whether they are ready or not. This is why we have 11th graders who can't read or think. Then they barely graduate high school and can't get a job and on the cycle goes. It kills me because while research shows that retention doesn't help, as a society, we don't put any interventions in place that actually work to help these kids. (That's next on my "save the world agenda" FYI). 

Anyway, I'm hopeful this can really make them understand that YOU are in charge of your learning...because honey I can sing and dance all day up here but if YOU don't put in some effort, it makes no difference. None at all. You can have the best teacher in the entire world and still learn nothing if YOU don't do anything. I would bet  my salary on that. 

This is all on my mind because I found out Friday evening that I am getting a teacher assistant from a local university for the fall. Our school has generally worked with my alma mater only in terms of the students that we have in place to teacher assist and/or student teach. But recently this other large university reached out to our school and asked us if we'd like students from their school as well. I am way too particular to let a student teacher in my room in the fall, no way. I've only one had before and I was very lucky that her and I see eye-to-eye on many things and we got along great. I also had her winter/spring term. My management procedures were already well ingrained in my students by then so it was fine to let her try things...but I wouldn't be that flexible in the fall. I know this so I haven't ever requested a fall student teacher. (My understanding is, however, that this university, which isn't as large as my alma mater, doesn't do fall student teaching; the students TA in the fall and ST in the spring. I might be wrong but I think this is the only way they do it.) This is the best of both worlds I think because I'll have an extra pair of hands (useful especially because we have some high needs friends coming to 4th grade next year) but also because she won't be there full-time. 

I have requested a student teacher for the 2nd semester but it won't bother  me at all if I don't get someone. It can be so touch and go with someone else in your room. Obviously I've only had Jenna and she was awesome--like my little sister, honestly. We still talk all the time and she asks for my advice with job interviews and whatnot. Unfortunately, I have witnessed (more times than I care to admit) a student teacher/cooperating teacher relationship that wasn't what it should be. Some of my colleagues (current school and former schools I've taught in) expect a student teacher to come in 100% prepared to be a teacher. Uh, you do notice the word student in their title, right?? Of course it's easy for me to judge as an outsider but I've seen things that I think are beyond inappropriate and when I got Jenna last year, I told her that I would never tell her supervisor from the college anything about her that I wouldn't say to her personally. Open and honest communication and feedback (whether it's good or bad) is vital. And you can't assume that someone knows what you want them to do, you have to tell them explicitly, just like you would any other student.

I am glad that I have a TA, I think it will be a great learning experience for both of us (especially because I learned she is a language arts major like I was and is doing a minor in TESOL which is what my master's degree is in). Apparently they only do 10 hours per week over 2 days which is so weird to me. My university they are there every day for a half day. The 10/2 is a minimum so depending upon her schedule, I may ask her if she would like to come in MWF mornings. I think that would be the most helpful for me in terms of consistency but also in allowing her to take over a subject if she'd like to so that she's more prepared for her student teaching the following semester. Obviously this has to be discussed with her but in a perfect world, that's how it would all work out.

The Caffeinated Teacher


  1. I wish where I taught got some more student teachers. I would love one and haven't had the opportunity. I loved my experiences when I was in college and would welcome the chance to mentor a young teacher the way I was mentored. The young lady or gentleman who gets to work with you in the fall will be lucky for sure!!

    1. All of our local universities will place students within 50 miles of the college campus. I'm right in the city so usually we have had a lot of student teachers until this year. I'm not sure why we haven't gotten many from my university (they said low enrollment but I think the placement coordinator changed).

      My first time student teaching was 45 minutes away. So we definitely put them all over -- rural, urban and suburban. I think its nice to have a mix of both because they definitely aren't the same experience.