Week 4… already?

It is almost the end of week four and I begin my prac Monday. To say I am feeling calm and excited would be wrong. I am feeling overwhelmed, a huge sense of dread and I am not at all enthusiastic about this prac. Why? I can’t exactly say, however I feel that this prac occuring so early in the semester while good, has caused some dramas. I was only given my placement on Monday and as it was a public holiday I was unable to contact the school until Tuesday. I am yet to hear from them so I have NO IDEA of what I am expected to do when Monday rolls around and I show up to prac with no clue about the students, school or my mentor teacher. Google can only show me so much about my school and I am very hesitant to google my mentor (as previously posted about the last prac).

Has anyone else had some issues prior to starting their EDP3333 prac? I would love to know I’m not in the boat alone!

Regardless of the circumstances leading up to my prac I am looking forward to teaching again and I find that I am wondering about what types of students I’ll have and how it will all work, but really needed to vent so I don’t do my husband’s head in!!

Here’s to a happy prac, I hope all the EDP3333 students have a great time 🙂

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Semester 2 begins

While I have now finished up with EDC3100, I thought I would continue my blogging journey to hopefully share some of the tears, triumphs and tantrums that semester 2 will bring 🙂

This semester I am enrolled in two courses SPE3008 – Communication and Collaboration and EDP3333 – Pedagogy & Curriculum 3 (prac course). I have very few courses left to go and am looking forward to graduating and getting into the real world. Today is my ‘get organised and enthusiastic about uni’ day. I am being very diligent and downloading all the course materials and popping them into folders on my desktop in the hopes I will actually look at and use the resources given to us. My guess is this neat little folder/file system will last about 3 weeks then I’ll just have a bunch of stuff on my desktop that I’ll spend ages looking for something I need.

I hope you all have a great Semester 2, and I’d love to see if others continue their blog/reflective journey.

Cheers
Amber

Assignment 3 and other stuff

Okay, so I have previously had a post about ‘the end’ but was it? No, it is just the beginning, but for today it is the end of EDC3100 for me. I have submitted my assignment 3. Yes I actually put in some effort and am now looking forward to the next 20mins of quiet time before the children come home (eeeek!). I have passed this course, thankfully because of my previous two assignments I am not stressed about this one, although I put in a good amount of effort, filled in every section of the templates and pretty much expect a passing mark. YAY.

I had a look on study desk before I submitted my assignment and was a little bit dismayed to read a few comments from David regarding the assignments and blog posts. Apparently people have been tricking the system and rushing through the content to get the tick to say they completed the learning path. While I might feel there is a heavy workload to this course, the actual tasks on study desk are what make the course and help us understand assignments and in the end become effective at integrating ICT in our teaching. I did not skip the learning journals, I did not simply re-blog people to make my quota and I am a little bit shocked and dismayed to see that people were. Was the course so content heavy we had to do this? Was there too much information to go through? I managed to work my way through the learning paths pretty easily, I admit I was generally a week or so behind but maintained a good effort at going through it (and in some cases redoing the learning path) so I could understand it all. I wonder what would WE think if our future students simply skimmed through the work we put so much effort into?

Another point that he raised is academic misconduct and he will be utilising online tools to see if work is plagarised.  I started and finished assignment 3 part D today – it is all my own work, but unlike the old days I don’t have note paper drafts, ideas and scrap paper to show how I came up with my work, I just typed it out on the computer today, here’s hoping I haven’t written something similar to someone else on the WWW.  I am interested to see the results of this (I doubt he will publish it though) to see how many students have worked the system and apparently plagerised their work. I am the first to admit Assignment 1 had me blatantly stealing other people’s images, although I have now a much better understanding of how to use images appropriately I do wonder what the technological world has in store for us when our students start using the net to ‘help’ them along!

 

Good luck to everyone in submitting their assignments today 🙂

 

Assignment 3 and the finishing of the EDC3100 course

We have now wound up with prac, and most students have finished off this week. Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard during their pracs.

 

Yesterday I finished the final learning path  for the course. I must say it was pretty much about assignment three and how to get the marks you need. David provided us with this Google Spreadsheet to model what we need to get for Assignment Three to finish the course and recieve a mark we wanted (i.e pass or d, hd etc). So I put all my little numbers in from previous assignments and it showed me that I needed a grand total of 0 marks to pass the course. I have now been sitting on my backside for the last few days enjoying being at home with the kids, cleaning, washing and catching up on all the stuff I missed at home while on prac ignoring my assignment.

I wonder…. do I really want to put in the effort to get a really good mark? Can I be bothered? The answer to these questions will probably reflect on what type of teacher I am going to be in the future. I have previously mentioned that I play the percentages game for Uni, and I think it’s a smart way to go because I can tell you I am 100% stress free at the moment. I have at least 5 marks for my blogs/learning path activities already stashed away.. possibly 5 for my lesson plans, and then at least half marks for the rest of it. Do I go ahead and submit a half-assed assignment? Maybe. At this stage I have two days fully dedicated to completing this task and getting it all sorted, I have already finished A (learning journey), B (planning) C – lesson plans well sort of, they need to be selected and feedback copied in etc the only part i haven’t considered is D. Weirdly it is worth the most amount of marks, yet doesn’t seem to bother me at all.

I am at the point of being OK with a pass, while I have a very good GPA and would hate to take an academic hit,  I must say I am very over this course and the overarching need it seems to have to make things that little bit more complicated.

Does this impact my choice to be lazy or not? – Probably.

Am I feeling stressed? – Nope, not at all

Will I eventually pull my finger out and work hard for two days to get it all done on time? More than likely

 

What would you do?

 

The end…

So I have offically finished my prac! YAY. I am super happy and very proud of myself for completing this prac. It has been one of the hardest and challenging pracs I have encountered and I feel a lot more confident of myself as a teacher. I was chatting with my mentor and another teacher yesterday afternoon and we discussed that what uni has for us on the theory side is not adequate, not ‘real world’ and it just doesn’t fit most schools. The following is a short list of the things I have discovered on my prac.

1) My cohort of students were complex – far more than anything I have previously encountered. We had students with disabilities (fair enough, thats in each school) and that was easy to differentiate and cater to, then there is the social-emotional side of the cohort which relates directly to their behaviour and learning.

2) it is not practical to use ICT’s in this setting- to begin with the IWB doesn’t work, their computers aren’t all working and there isn’t enough for the whole class. There isn’t a computer lab as I imagined there would be. Let’s just say I wans’t in the ‘leafy’ suburbs where there were ICTs a plenty!

3) The students have larger worries – where their next meal is coming from, where they are sleeping, what is happening at home etc there were some complexities that popped up out of nowhere – students having arguments/fights, bullying and outright agitiation and anxiety when asked to complete tasks. I was informed by many teachers that these kids need real world skills and support rather than a focus the warm fuzzy stuff (ie. ICT)

4) These students need structure and routine and I was required to work with the routine in the classroom there was minimal time to implement ICTs (A fact I have learnt it common throughout the whole school)

5) The education system is incredibly hard for some students and one must be tough, fair, caring and a whole bunch of other things all at one time to survive.

 

Regardless of these issues, or perhaps because of them I had built a lovely rapport and relationship with each student in my class. It took me so long to gauge where they were at because of the above mentioned complexities I never seemed to get it right until perhaps the last week. My mentor strongly believes there should be more prac less theory because what happens in the universities is not like the real world. I have come to understand why this is the case. My cohort of students did not fit into any box I had learnt about previously. I understand more about teaching and how complex it is than I have before hand. I loved my time in that class and I have approached the school about volunteering there one day a week because they are a great school (regardless of what others may think) and the students in the school are lovely, even if a bit complicated. I am hoping this will keep me grounded and give me a reality check as I progress towards the end of my degree.

I hope that as everyone brings their prac’s to a close you find that it was a successful prac (even if like me it was difficult and challenging) and you learnt something you can keep with you as a teacher. I am super excited to have finished, but now it brings back to the real world of assignments and blah.

 

Now – LONG WEEKEND TIME. I am going to the country with no phone no internet and my beautiful children to catch up on some much needed family time 🙂

~ Amber

On the home stretch….

YAY. We are almost at midway point on week three. I for one am super excited to have my prac finished. Not because I don’t like my mentor, my class or teaching, mainly because this isn’t MY CLASS, or my ROUTINE and I am having to teach in a style that is not the way I would do it. Having said that I am having a great time in my school, and while we are meant to return for our next prac here I can’t 😦 They have already been booked out by other pre-service teachers. This is a down side to a small school, but I get to experience that gut-wrentching stress factor of a new school/new people/new routine/new mentor all over again.. yeh.. that will be fun.

I have read a few posts of my peers and this one from Tenille struck a chord with me. Last week I had such a hard time of planning, working with more substitute teachers and not really getting a handle on the kids I was feeling stressed out. I had my first full day of teaching on Monday and that went..well not so good. I was feeling really low and had been having nightmares on the weekend about showing up un-prepared, under equipped and essentially getting the big FAIL from my mentor. Luckily that didn’t happen, and my feedback was good although my lessons were not so crash hot but when Tenille spoke about the workload for this semester I had to quietly cheer, YES, there is way too much going on for this course, I don’t feel that anything we have done prior to prac has really helped me what-so-ever as I am on the verge of making up ICT plans because there just aren’t resources/time/interest for me to implement what I need/want to do. I had already dropped a subject because of the workload of the two courses combined really caused too much stress. I feel for those of you who are doing this subject conjunction with others. Quietly you’re my heroes as I couldn’t do it this semester. One important thing I have discovered this week. Reflection happens quickly, and if you have enough bad lessons you can pick it up in no time to reflect as you are going and alter your course. Sadly.. most of the time I seem to be hitting the rocks but on occasion, like today I only beached it for awhile 😉

 

Have a great last three days

and remember………………

 

my fav. version 😉

Balancing Act

Today I was prompted to post by reading some of my fellow bloggers posts. Anouk posted about our recent assignment results and commented that a few other students were feeling a bit low about their recent results for Assignment two. I am happy to say that I’m not feeling that way. It is hard sometimes that we put so much effort into something and it just doesn’t happen. I am hoping that these students are having a great prac experience and are learning from their mentors as I have found that the best experience so far.

 

On another topic… Week 2 – and I have a different substitute teacher, my poor mentor has been sick for the last two days. I’m working on the theory I have had 3 mentors over my prac experience and thats pretty good, although most of my pre-planning doesn’t quite work,

Real World Example of how it doesn’t quite go right

Today I was about to undertake my second ICT lesson (second you say… yes it’s been a tough time in my class). I was excited, my kids had their story boards, we were ready to go, I had checked the iPads out – discovered the program I needed (and was suggested by my mentor to use) wans’t there. ARGH. 2 WEEKs of planning OUT THE WINDOW.

Plan B – poplet was on there – YES, we’ll do that instead. Take photos, use text boxes and save and continue on tomorrow.

First group finished and uh-oh…. we can’t save it. The saved file is not anywhere on the iPad. The sub-teacher had a look and said nope, they are not there. WHAT! This isn’t happening.. okay I need to get group 2 going.. alright, take photos of their work with an ipad and I can at least show that they used something ICT-y for their rotation. Spend 5 mins explaining to each group we can’t make a movie and need to do this activity instead was sucky… i felt really bad and am working on Plan C (probably using my iPad, incidently which I bought because I needed to know how to use iMovie…) to hopefully get them to create a movie. This will be a group experience 6 – 8 and one iPad.. surely nothing can go wrong!!!

I had my lessons planned perfectly and it just didn’t happen. To be honest if I had this down as my ‘lesson plan’ I am sure I would fail immediatley. One group ended up playing games on iPad because the USQ Liason person came out (unknown to me because mentor was away), two students were excluded for poor behaviour. On the bright side, the other kids were great and loved participating. YAY.

 

It’s been a day to say the least.

End of Week 1 of prac

My last post may have been a little bit dramatic, but now I can sit back and look at my first week of prac in perspective. I got to see first hand what happens when a substitute teacher comes into the classroom and to be honest it wasn’t pretty, but I can honestly say I don’t think it would have mattered who showed up to teach my class it wouldn’t have gone smoothly. I have learnt that this particular group of students do not accept change easily, they are pre-teens and are emotional so when something isn’t the same, in this case their very structured classroom, chaos ensues. This is not the fault of the students nor the substitute teacher it is simply what happens when a sub comes to the classroom. From what I have learnt about these students the routine and structure of their classroom is pretty much the only structure they have in their lives so when it changes they can’t cope. Their safe place has changed! When their teacher returned full time on Thursday there was an amazing difference, there was peace, work was being done and the day ran smoothly. That’s not to say there weren’t disruptions and students misbehaving (they are kids afterall) but it was handled smoothly and without disruption to everyone.

 

I got to teach on Wednesday (observed by my mentor and the substitute teacher) and the students were great (and pretty patient with me) and it went well 🙂 Thursday I ran a whole morning session with rotations and that was interesting. I was the ‘teacher’ group, but also managing the “ICT” group (also my group) and making sure the others were doing their tasks. It went well and I felt quite successful. I could rant on all day about how much I enjoyed it, and I even think the students learnt something (yay), but I am sure all my EDC3100 peers are feeling the same after teaching!

Really quickly the things I have learnt in week one

  • Write BIG on the whiteboard
  • Be flexible – lessons need to change if it is not working, think on your feet and get your lesson back on track
  • Change how I explain things, be simple and conscise. Don’t overload them with too much ‘fluff’ (videos for example pick a good one and leave it at that!)
  • Go with the flow – use questions as a way to explain things better. Don’t spend 10mins explaining the same thing to a group of kids, if more than 3 ask I need to explain it to the whole group again
  • Give an inch and they will take a mile (I knew this one, but still you forget when you are trying to build relationships with students….)
  • Pick random students to ask questions. My last prac we had paddlepop sticks with kids names  on it and randomly picked them to answer questions – I’m making mine this weekend!
  • My mentor makes it look easy. It is not easy, it has taken a lot of hard work and patience to get these students to this level of behaviour and working well. You will need to start over every year with each group you have. Don’t expect what works for one teacher to work for you!
  • One relief teacher told me that she used to take her class down to the oval for 10mins to calm them down in the last session as most were unsettled, unfocused and didn’t want to work. It provided them a quick outlet and the class got back on track quickly.

 

That’s not all I have learnt, most of it has just been little tricks like lowering your voice to get attention on you, hands on heads is also a good one to get them to stop and look at you. There is so much to see and understand to even get to the level of our mentors, I am hoping that eventually I can put all of my observing and note-taking in to practice and become an effective teacher and be able to cater (and understand) the complexities of my students.

The main point of my post (which I never even go to) was that when I was writing my lesson plans for next week I came across this little gem of a website! It is a math activity website, it’s free you don’t even need to sign up and provides printable activities/games to help with number facts up to year 5.

I hope everyone had a great week 🙂

Enjoy week 2!

 

~ Amber

 

The Apocalypse hath come? Day 2 of prac…..

While this may look (feel?) like a diary entry during an apocalypse… perhaps it is not far from the truth. My first day of prac went as expected, a lot of observing and watching how it was done.

Day two was A LOT more interesting, my mentor is not in the classroom for the next two days so I am watching a substitute teacher to see how they do things. Let’s just say it was different… there is the instant lack of control/respect as this is just a fill in teacher not attached to the school so some students were not really listening and in general as they day went on it seemed to descend into chaos. It seems I’ll get the opportunity to observe someone else and pick their brains about teaching (first lesson I have learnt is don’t show fear or you’ll get eaten alive…… zombie apocalypse anyone?). This is something David said if we should have the opportunity to do we should embrace it (so I will..)

Looking at the positives and negatives of this current situation I can see both, generally for the better as I have been a spoiled little pre-service teacher in most cases managed to get really well behaved students so I can see ‘classroom/behaviour management’ in action…

1) I have had a chance to chat with my sub-mentor teacher and found that he had a different approach to teaching, and while it might seem dramatic the class was relatively in control with a few exceptions. Saying this, do I know these students backgrounds? their personal lives? or their needs? nope – I can only guess as to what caused chaos and mayhem today and think (hope, pray?) that tomorrow won’t be so ‘interesting’ as the students will have settled a little bit and routine will return.

2) I am not getting an opportunity to teach until Thursday as the substitute teacher can’t really provide feedback/mentor as required so I am stuck watching and learning from the wings.

3) I am getting to know some more of the children and beginning to build relationships  as I am observing and assisting them with math/literacy classes in smaller groups

 

Overall I am feeling OK with the prac, although I am anxious to get lessons going I know there will be plenty of time for this as the next few weeks progress. On another huge, personal plus side – I am not doing school runs, school lunches, and having to listen to my own little darlings about how unfair it is they have to get up early for school! I’m already gone 🙂 It’s always nice to talk to someone over the age of 3.

It’s Prac Time!

Tomorrow we start Prac, to be honest with you I have to say I have not really been feeling it this semester, so far it has all seemed like a chore. Probably not the best thing to say as a pre-service teacher in her 3rd year, but I’ve had a lot going on the least of which is my darling son shared his cold with me and I lost my voice on Friday! This course has been so full on I don’t think I have had a chance to be worried or nervous  or excited about prac as I haven’t had time!

I have found though, that now I have finished all my preparation – a good part was cleaning and making sure the kids are sorted, writing lesson plans and finishing the learning paths, I have had a little bit of time this evening to sit down and think about the next three weeks. I am infact looking forward to my prac afterall! I am really interested to see how my mentor runs her class and how her classroom management works and I am keen to start my mini unit. I have spent the last week working on this unit and have written about four different versions so I can’t wait to see what my mentor thinks about my ideas.  I have spent a little bit of time reading other preservice teacher’s blogs about the upcoming prac and I found Anouk’s blog post. She has already completed her prac, and has provided a few ideas of integrating ICT’s into lessons where there is a limited amount of ICTs to work with. This sounds like my classroom – from what I can work out I’ll have a beautiful “old school” blackboard and a digital camera I can borrow, as well as a few iPads and some computers. Not as “ICT rich” as previous classrooms, but it is work-able as long as I can work out how to put it in a 20min lesson!

I would like to wish all my EDC3100 peers good luck tomorrow I hope you enjoy your day 🙂

 

~ Amber