Even though I knew better, I still had this idea in my head that I was going to be able to go home at four o’clock everyday and have the afternoon to myself. I envisioned being prepared and ready for each days lessons and that I would have it all figured out. I pictured the students responding like perfect students and giving me their full attention during circle time. Today was a crazy day at preschool and I am now back to reality of what this semester is really going to look like. It is going to be a learning process, a time of growth in my knowledge and skills of teaching.
I have a very diverse bunch of students in my classroom and each of them have different needs. They all have very different stories and backgrounds. But they do have one thing in common; they all need to be loved. As a teacher, I want to show my students that they are loved by caring about them and building a relationship with them. I have learned that many of my students come from a single parent household and all of them are from low-income families.
Here are some of the realizations that I have come to in my teaching experience:
Preschool is not a daycare. Many people may view preschool teachers as babysitters and feel that their job must be easy to watch kids play all day. I now realize all the work that preschool teachers do. We don’t even have students on Fridays, which I thought was going to be a bonus and super easy day. Friday was incredibly busy for us and we still weren’t done with everything by four o’clock. The day was filled with meetings, planning, preparation, and organizing the classroom. A full day of preschoool with the students takes a lot of energy, structure, and routine. Already in preschool, the students are learning math, literacy, art, science, social studies, and language. Preschool is the foundation of the children’s education. Teachers are constantly recording the GOLD assessments, keeping up the students portfolios, and tracking progress.
Preschoolers need routine and structure. Today, the whole school watched “Happy Feet” in the gym. It was supposed to be a special day and I had the expectation that it was going to be easy. Actually, I would be ok if we never had a movie day again. It threw the whole schedule off and the students didn’t react well to the change. They were bouncing off the walls all day and it was just a very ‘off’ day for all of the students. Also, I have noticed that logistics and details are very important in preschool. Such as, what will the students do when they are done with snack? How long is this activity actually going to take?
Plan meaningful activities. When planning activities for preschoolers, you need to ask yourself if they are developmentally appropriate. Also, what will the students be learning? What kinds of support will they need to do the activity? That is one thing that I need to work on; choosing activities that the students can do independently but still be challenged. I don’t want to be stuck doing the whole project or game for them because it is not developmentally appropriate.
Meet Jackie Ridgway. She is an artist and student teacher in Texas this semester! Visit her website at http://jacklynridgway.weebly.com/ to see some of her awesome artwork. (Pictured above is a silkscreen print by Jackie, titled ‘American Frontier’)
Hello all, my name is Jackie Ridgway. I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in K-12 Art Education. I started my student teaching journey one week ago in Houston, Texas! I am a small town girl from Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney. UNK sends several student teachers to Houston each semester to teach at Alief ISD, which is a school district that is in such a high need for teachers, that they have been granted permission to pay their student teachers (one of the major reasons I chose Alief!).
I am currently student teaching at Killough Middle School. So far, it has been an incredible experience. All of the staff has been so welcoming and friendly. There are even several teachers from Nebraska that have been very helpful. Coming from a small rural school in Nebraska, I knew that the environment would be very different than what I am used to. All of the student teachers had been told about the diversity that we would see, but it doesn’t really sink in until you are thrown into it. The number of languages I hear students talking in one classroom is fascinating. I haven’t had any trouble communicating with students like I thought I might. Most of the students speak English very well.
Here are a few things I learned during my first week:
It’s not as easy as it looks! I felt very confident about my teaching skills during my field experience in the schools in Nebraska. This is a completely different environment. Most of the Alief schools are very low socioeconomic and a lot of the students don’t have an easy home life. Before winter break, there was a middle school girl that was killed in a drive by shooting, just to give you a little perspective. Some of these students have been through more than I ever have been in my life. I work with some tough kids. I know, though, that when I am finished with my experience teaching here, it will make me a better teacher and I will be prepared for almost anything that will be thrown at me.
Classroom management is key. I already knew this, but implementing it is a whole different story. This is also not as easy as it looks! I have been told that if I can manage my classroom here, then I will be able to handle any classroom environment. I have a group of 8th grade boys that are a real terror. They say, “Yes ma’am” and are not disrespectful toward me or my cooperating teacher, for the most part. They just don’t want to be in art class and refuse to participate. After my first day, I doubted myself. I didn’t know if I would be able to handle what I have gotten into. However, each day has gotten a little better, so I know that there is hope.
I won’t save them all. I have already started to build relationships with some of my students. It has been hard to get all their names down, since I see close to 200 students a day. I give feedback to the students on their artwork, and most of them seem to appreciate it. Some just don’t care. I have received many eye-rolls and even some comments like, “Get away from me,” “Don’t’ talk to me,” and of course, “I hate art.” My dream as an art teacher is to help my students love art like I do. I want to help them develop their creative mind and use it in not only art, but also all of their other classes and in their future endeavors. I have to remember that I won’t accomplish this will all of my students. As long as I can make a difference in at least one student’s life, I will consider myself successful.
Getting involved helps. I went to the boys’ basketball game so that I could watch a few of my students and have a way to connect with them. They noticed. I had a student come to school the next day and said, “I saw you at the basketball game, Miss.” That was all he said, but I could see that he appreciated the support. I want my students to know that I support them in not only art, but also their other classes and extra curricular activities. The teachers also noticed my support. A few came up to me and said they saw me at the game and how glad they were that I came out to support the students. It’s little things like going to a game that will help you in the long run.
Start each day fresh. If you have a student that gave you a hard time in class the day before, greet him or her as if nothing had ever happened. A new day presents different circumstances and new opportunities. Every child deserves to be given a second chance. Always greet them with a smile to let them know that you care and that you are there for them. As teachers, we don’t know what our students are going through outside of school. We can’t take their misbehaviors and outbursts personally, because they really probably don’t mean anything they say. They just need someone to take their frustrations out on, so if that person has to be me, I am perfectly fine with that. I will still love them just the same.
I am so excited to get to know my students this semester and learn from them. They all have a special place in my heart already and I can’t wait to build relationships with them. I know that this semester will be challenging, but I am ready to take on those challenges head on. I know that they will only make me a better teacher and more prepared for my own classroom in the fall.
I pray Your love will shine through me onto Your children. Help them to know that I care for them and want only the best for them. Please guide me this semester in the relationships I build with the students and teachers, and to be the best that I can be for my students. Amen.
I made it through the first week of preschool! My apartment looks like a tornado went through, I caught a cold from my students, I have a long to-do list, and my energy is zero..but I made it through. Breathe.
“I wiggle my fingers, I wiggle my toes, I wiggle my shoulders, I wiggle my nose. Now no more wiggles are left in me, so I can eat politely.”
I may have learned a thing or two this week at preschool. I started off the week with a teacher inservice on Monday. I got to know some of the teachers, although it’s hard being the newbie and the youngest. I suppose I won’t feel like a real teacher until I get a job. Many of the teachers presented on various topics. Here are some of my takeaways from that:
Teachers play a critical role in developing language-rich classroom environments. Set the stage by getting down on the child’s level and listen to him/her. It’s important to match the tone of the conversation by looking at the child’s facial expression. And take turns talking.
Engage your students. I learned that engagement in the lesson might look different for each student. I think this is important to remember, especially for young children because children weren’t made to sit still and listen attentively. Preschoolers need developmentally appropriate activities to engage in.
Together everyone achieves more. Collaborative teaming among the staff means that all staff should be engaged at all times. Teachers need to share roles in the classroom and have positive interactions with each other. Adults set the tone in the classroom by their attitude, actions, and words.
I am in a class with 16 children. I love them all! I hold each and every one of them close to my heart and I can’t stop thinking about them even after I go home for the day. I wonder what they are doing and what home is like for them. I feel like I’ve learned so much about my students in just the three days that I’ve spent with them.
My class is very diverse in their academic skills. It’s almost overwhelming trying to figure out how to teach them the skills they need to learn. At this age, the foundation is being set. Not only academic, but social and emotional concepts as well.
I am learning some about GOLD. Oh my goodness, so much data to record. How does a teacher do it? Along with GOLD, there are portfolios and progress reports the teachers must keep. The first week was a little overwhelming and I get to help out with all of that in the coming week.
Everyday this week, I came home exhausted. Working with preschoolers just wipes the energy right out of you. Plus, my back is tired from all the bending down and playing at their level. Time for some yoga.
Friday is the teachers’ planning day. It was nice to have a day to plan the entire week. SO MANY copies, laminating, and cutting out projects for the children. Preparation is timely. We also attended a meeting for ‘Teachers Learning and Cooperating.’ I’m hoping to learn more about that next month. Friday went entirely too fast but I’m excited for everything that we have planned for next week.
Remind me that I need to always put the children’s needs first. They are Your children and they are precious. Give me the patience and guidance I need to teach them. Let us learn, play, laugh, and grow together this semester. Amen
I am only at the preschool for ten weeks and week one is almost over. I can see that this journey is going to fly by. Tomorrow is the last day of the week with the students. (No school on Fridays) I am excited to send home this letter with all of the students in my class. I am looking forward to getting to know the students and their families. Even though my time will be short, I want to learn as much as possible from them!
Tomorrow is the day. Please be with all of the student teachers tomorrow as they go to meet their class. Give us confidence as we take on responsibilities as a teacher. Give us the courage to make a difference in the short amount of time we are in the classroom. Allow a good relationship between us and our cooperating teacher. Thank you for the education and knowledge that was received and help us to remember all that we learned. Lord, I trust that You will be with all of us tomorrow and this semester. Lead us and work through us to touch children’s lives.
If you know me personally, you know that I am a dreamer. I desire to change the world. I always see room for improvement, especially self-improvement. I spend a lot of time reflecting and thinking about new ideas and ways to help people and myself become better. I take the New Year more seriously than most. To me, it feels like a chance to start over or be a new you.
This year is really important to me because it is the year that I become a teacher. I will be graduating college and entering the world of teaching, for real. It’s scary and exciting. It’s a year for growing and learning. It’s a year that will bring joy, laughter, tears, mistakes, new knowledge, passion, and love.
These are my New Year’s Resolutions. I may fail. I may not accomplish them all perfectly. But to me, it’s the process that matters. The person that I will grow to become because I am trying something new and allowing change to take place. A change of heart and a change of mind. I will learn and mature, become more healthy and get more wisdom. That is my ultimate goal for 2016.
Read more. It’s not often anymore, that I just sit down and enjoy a good book. Reading is good for the soul. I enjoy the peace and quiet while getting lost in a book. Read books for fun, but also read books to get smarter. You are graduating college, but the learning can’t stop there. Vow to be a lifelong learner. As a teacher, you will tell your students how important it is to read, but will you show them? Inspire them to love reading by showing them your love for reading.
Grow my blog. Blogging is a new passion for me. I have many. But I think blogging is a good investment-for reflection, for my passion to teach, and hopefully someday for profit. I am new to the blogging world and have a ton to learn but so far I am having fun with the few posts that I have written. In 2016, I want to learn how to grow my blog and reach more people. I want to inspire teachers and better the education system. (I told you I like to dream big)
Become a morning person. Actually, I already am a morning person. But I want to make my mornings more meaningful. I found this article about a book called The Miracle Morning, a book I will add to ‘my list of books to read in 2016.’ The author has come up with six steps to take in the morning to energize you for your day. The morning routine consists of silence, affirmation, visualization, exercising, reading, and scribes. This is perfect for me. Silence is something that I really need to practice and the morning is the best time for it. Here is how my morning routine usually goes: alarm goes off, scroll through my phone on social media (I have even tried to convince myself that I need to do this because the light on my phone wakes me up), get up and shower, scroll through some more social media, slowly get ready for the day, eat breakfast, scurry to finish getting ready because somehow I lost track of time and now I am almost late, run out the door. I am not kidding you, this is my daily morning routine. Read more about The Miracle Morning here or join me in reading the book this year.
Practice yoga. I just tried yoga for the first time a few weeks ago, and I am in LOVE. I always thought I would hate it because it seemed so boring and how could it really benefit you? Aren’t you just standing in different poses? After finally opening my mind to the idea of yoga, I learned that there are so many different types and tons of different health benefits. This year, I want to practice yoga to become more flexible, become more energetic, and maintain my weight.
Save money. How? I am young and married and I will be working a full time job this semester without getting paid. It’s time to get serious about budgeting. So far, my husband and I have lived paycheck to paycheck as we have been trying to pay off bills. But this is the year that we will live frugally and simply to save ourselves from financial troubles. God willing, we will save money this year and be able to give because God will take care of us:) Also, I guess I will be adding some Dave Ramsey to my list of ‘must reads’ this year.
Spend more time with family. This is a big one for me. I really miss my family, especially my brothers, that I seem to only see on holidays now. It’s hard to live away from family, so I need to be more intentional about staying in touch and praying for them. Also, my husband and I see that we need to spend more time with our family that lives right here in the same town as us. Sunday dinners and family game nights need to become a more frequent occasion.
Give more. I know we don’t have much to give but God is faithful and He wants us to give even when we have nothing. God will make a way for us to give more to the church, to missions, and to help others. Another thing that I can give, is time. I really value my time and sometimes my ego is a little too big because I think that my time is very important. I feel like I need to be productive 100% of the day, and I don’t have time to slow down and share my time with others. But time is a gift to people and I need to slow down and give more of my time to the people I love. It is not for me or for my gain.
Make Whole 30 a lifestyle. I will be starting out this year by doing the whole 30 challenge with my husband and some other family and friends. But this time, I want it to have lasting effects on my lifestyle. I completed the whole 30 a couple months ago but went back to my old eating habits once the holidays came around. I want to be healthy again! I can’t wait to start feeling better and to get back to the gym.
Pray more. Yes. I want to become a prayer warrior for my family, my friends, my students, my co-workers, my school. I want to begin my day by praying and calling on the Lord. He will lead my life day by day.
Do a social media detox. This is one I’ve been trying to figure out for awhile. It can consume me. I have tried deleting the apps off of my phone. Sometimes I delete Facebook altogether for a time. But we live in a world so enslaved to our phones and smart devices. It’s really sad. I don’t want to be that person anymore that is sitting at the restaurant with my family glued to my phone. I see it everywhere I go. Everyone brings their own entertainment, handy in their pocket. For this, I need to take a few weeks out of this year every so often to power down. Detox my mind from the social media that can so easily get ahold of me.
This is kind of like a letter to myself, a reminder of who I want to be this year. I understand that New Year’s Resolutions aren’t as important to many other people. But I embrace change. I long for the Lord to make me new. I pray that these New Year’s Resolutions will not be for my glorification, but His!
Now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and my college career is almost at an end, I have been reflecting on my experience at the community college and University. I learned a thing or two and if I could do it over again, there are some things I would have done differently. Maybe, if it’s not too late, this can help you.
- I would have started out at the University. It was really nice to take some of my general education courses at a community college because it was cheaper and probably easier. But, it was difficult being a transfer student at the University. I was past the freshman excitement of getting involved and meeting new people. So, I just went to class.
- I would have gotten more involved. I did find a good Christian group to surround myself with, which is very important to me. But I didn’t give my time to any groups that pertained to my major, Elementary Education. Now what am I going to put on my resume? The education groups help you get connected with schools in the area and help you with professional development. Get involved, people. You will thank me later.
- I would have gotten to know my professors better. All of my teachers were very intentional about getting to know their students. I think that is one of the awesome things about the education program. But I am pretty private when it comes to building relationships with teachers, classmates, and co-workers. But now I wish I would have made better connections so I could have people to go back to for career advice or a good reference.
- I would have saved everything. This is a big one for education majors. I turned in so many lesson plans and assignments that would be useful to have right now. I am a little disorganized. But as I am getting ready to student teach and job hunt, I need evidence that I have experience in lesson planning. Thankfully, in most of my education classes we kept a portfolio for this reason. But if I could do it over, I would have saved everything to a flash drive. I may have some things as a hardcopy, but it won’t do me much good if I need to edit it .
- I would have studied abroad. I thought of this one too late. My junior year I was really interested in this but I was too close to graduation. This would be a great thing to do your sophomore year. It’s a big world out there and college is a prime time to experience it. I don’t think I would have regretted living in another country for a semester.
Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new. -Og Mandino
I always love hearing stories about how teacher’s hearts desire more for their students; this is one of those stories. A fourth grade teacher at Cozad Elementary (Cozad, NE), gifted her students each day they were in school for the month of December, with the help of her family and friends. Brooke Soucie, a third-year teacher, said, “Growing up, I was very fortunate when the holidays came around. My parents always made sure that us kids had a nice Christmas with presents under the tree, which we were always excited about. We were definitely spoiled, and still are. Unfortunately, not all of my students are this lucky.”
“So, this year, I have decided that my class is going to decorate stockings and we are going to hang them in the room. Each morning, I want there to be a little something in there for the kids. I remember always being excited to open gifts after Christmas Eve mass, and I want my kids to have that same holiday excitement when they come to school for those 14 days. On the day of our Christmas party, they will each have a couple gifts wrapped under our tree to open.”
She asked for help from her family and friends and received enough donations to give every student in her class a stocking stuffer each day they were in school until Christmas. With each stocking stuffer she gave to the students, she wrote a clever little poem telling about the family that donated.
“And the stockings were hung from the whiteboard with care….” the kids are soooo excited about this!!!!
Meet the TeacherBrooke Soucie devotes a lot of time to her school as she is not only a teacher, but a high school volleyball coach, and 8th grade girls basketball and 8th grade boys basketball coach. Two things she loves is coaching and going to her brothers games back home, as it’s his senior year. She also loves hanging out with family and friends (playing cards, going to the lake, camping, four-wheeling, etc).
Brooke said her favorite thing about being a teacher is simple, but hard to explain. She said, “It’s most definitely the kids. It’s the way that you see their faces light up when they’re learning. The way that they find out when you joke around with them that you’re just a normal person too, not just this teacher that “lives” at school. Being able to joke with them, yet being tough and holding them accountable, because you know and they know that that is what they need-and this is when their trust in you begins to develop. This is when you become that strength and “structure” in some of their lives. When you see a misunderstanding or struggling face light up once they finally “get it.” It’s about watching them get better and improve everyday, but allowing them to have their setbacks, because that’s part of life. For me, it’s about THEM getting better everyday, not about meeting a standard. In my room we believe in and celebrate self-improvements and accomplishments, not where a standard says they should be at a certain point in the year. I know my kids, they have goals, and they know what’s expected. I love the way that they come to trust and love you in such a short amount of time, and you do the same to them. I could go on and on about what I love about teaching, but all in all, its the kids, how each and everyone is so different, unique, and special…yet they all need one thing, which is to be cared for and believed in.”