From Student to Teacher

Hi! My name is Brittany May, and I am an Elementary Education major at the College of William and Mary. This blog is all about my journey through education... the questions I have and the answers I find, as well as lessons learned along the way, in this never-ending learning process of being a student and becoming a teacher. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Shopping Like A Teacher

I was doing errands this week and decided to pop in and browse through a "Teacher Store" in one of the local shopping centers. I was like a little kid in a toy store at Christmas time! I saw so many wonderful teaching tools, books of all sizes, educational games, posters, cool classroom decorations, and yes, toys- for students and teacher! I went from one display to the next, not able to stop for more than a few seconds because my eyes would spot something even better that I had to go check out! I really wanted to ignore my conscience and dive in and begin the process of accumulating all the fun "teacher stuff" for my future classroom, but then that little voice that always irritates me when I'm shopping kicked in and told me to wait until I actually have a classroom before investing in stuff to fill it with. But I've wondered... where do teachers get all their stuff? And more importantly, how do they afford it? Most of the teachers I've talked to have all said most of it comes out of your own pocket, although some is tax-deductible. I found this somewhat discouraging. It only made that irritating voice in my head warning me not to spend money stronger, so I left the super-cool "Teacher Store" without my "teacher stuff".

I was browsing again this weekend, this time through blogs, and I came across a wonderful "store" that will certainly help when I do have my own classroom. Cynthia Rutledge has compiled a list of resources for free educational materials and shared it in her blog. This list is especially for teachers, and there's some wonderful items that would be an asset to any classroom, especially for subjects like geography and the sciences, with everything from posters to videos and even textbooks! I found myself having the same reaction as I had in the teacher store- eagerly going from one website to the next in the excitement of finding cool "teacher stuff". But what makes this shopping experience even better than the first, is that it's all free! I may not have my classroom yet, but thanks to this list, you can bet that when I do, I'll be able to shop like a pro... like a teacher!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My Very First Lesson!

This week I taught my first lesson in my practicum classroom. (insert squeal-of-delight here) The lesson was a literature-based lesson that we designed as a group project in our "Teaching Social Studies" class. The process of creating and planning the lesson proved to be hard enough, but I was even more nervous about teaching it. Every teacher I have talked to has said that experience is the best "teacher" when it comes to learning how to teach, and that I'll learn more from experience than from any college class. How true this is!

Overall, the lesson went well. But the biggest lesson I learned in teaching my lesson was not what I expected it to be. Going into this, I was most worried about how I would perform as a teacher. Would I explain things clearly and logically? Would I be able to keep the kids engaged? Would they understand the concepts and "get it"? Surprisingly, this wasn't really an issue. My greatest challenge turned out to be something I hadn't prepared for in my lesson plan... classroom management!

The students in my class are wonderful, and they were well-behaved during my lesson (as they usually are). But I realized that this good behavior is attributed to more than the natural, pleasant dispositions of first graders. Sure, I had observed student's behavior plenty of times, when my cooperating teacher was teaching. I guess I never realized how "high-maintenance" classroom management can be. This showed me what definitive control my teacher has over her class. Her students instantly respond to a hand signal, a whisper, or a look. Sing-songy tunes like "1,2,3, eyes on me", positive reinforcement, praise, and high-fives seem to be much more effective than corrections with negative connotations. She never raises her voice, because she doesn't have to. As a result, the classroom has an aura of happiness about it.

Having the role of "teacher" opened my eyes through experience to all the little things teachers have to pay attention to. Observing in the classroom has taught me a lot, even more than I expected or have learned from class. But stepping into my teacher's shoes and actually teaching clued me in to the power and effect a teacher can have by the way they manage their class. I'm eagerly looking forward to having more of these learning experiences.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Precious Moments

I've recently created another blog, entitled "Precious Moments", that describes all of the experiences I've had this year during my student teaching that are, well, precious. I add them as they happen... Check it out!