Be all that you can be. Find your future--as a teacher.

Musings of a second-year teacher.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Photostory = Amazing!

Thanks to a family friend who is a teacher (and wonderful about sharing tips with me!), I discovered the program Photostory! I'm so excited about the possibilities with this program!

Essentially, Photostory creates a slideshow of your pictures. You can easily add music, text, and narraration. When I first read about it, it sounded similar to something you could do in Powerpoint. But, once I checked it out, I realized how much better it was! Photostory easily compiles all these elements for you.

The teacher who introduced Photostory to me said that she uses it in her Kindergarden class for show and tell. She takes pictures of the children with their belongings and then will post the Photostory on her class webpage. This allows the parents to see their children in school! This is especially good for parents who don't have the time to come into the classroom, because they are still able to see their children in school!

I've just downloaded the program, so I haven't had much of a chance to explore it, but I already have a project I'd like to attempt. I think Photostory would be a wonderful way to create a "virtual field trip." For a field trip lesson plan I had to create last semester, I went to Jamestown. While I was there, I took a ton of pictures. I think I could easily create a "virtual field trip" with these pictures. I could add my own narraration, and tailor the information to meet the SOLs. This would be a wonderful way for students to experience areas that are too far away for a field trip. And it is way more exciting than reading from a textbook!

Yay technology. I'm really excited to be able to try this out in my own classroom.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Don't have high expectations, and you won't ever be let down.

I want to have high expectations.

Ever since I started school, I have adored playing the part of the teacher. I set up an entire school room in my basement and scoured Goodwills for old textbooks. I begged my siblings to sit still for more hours of "school" after they got home from "real school" and even had a treasure box to reward those especially good students!

As I've gotten older and come to realize the other considerations that play into a career choice, I've debated the teaching profession. The salary, (sometimes) lack of prestige, never-ending work, and persnickety parents were all factors that led me to reconsider. But, I couldn't envision myself truly waking up excited for any of the other jobs.

So, naturally, I have high expectations for the path I've chosen. I expect that I'll wake up every morning thrilled to be in the classroom. I expect that my students will always make me laugh, giggle, and be excited to learn. I expect that I'll have fun at school everyday, something that is impossible in any other job I could have chosen.

And I'm scared that I'm wrong. This semester I've been in the school about three days a week. I'm starting to get a good feel for what it's all about, and it's not quite living up to my expectations. Don't get me wrong, I'm still enjoying it, but I'm just scared it won't be exactly as I've envisioned teaching.

Next semester, I'll student teach. I'm not going to lie. I'm petrified about student teaching. How will I ever be excited to teach every day if I'm starting out petrified? I'm scared the kids won't learn anything, I'll completely lose control of the classroom, my teacher will think I'm completely incompetent, I'll loose a student somewhere between homeroom and the cafeteria, or I'll simply burn out before I even graduate.

I'm excited, but the petrified feeling has pretty much taken over as I'm closely approaching student teaching. Why? I know I have the potential to do it, but somewhere along the way, I've lost my confidence.

I'm hoping that student teaching will be scary for a little bit, but end up reaffirming my desire to teach. I think of myself as an optimist, so I'd rather not go into this with low expectations. I want to go in with high expectations for myself, my class, my chosen profession.

The vulnerability scares me.

But it's a risk I'm willing to take.

Dress to Impress

"As pre-service teachers participating in practica and student teaching experiences in the schools, the SOE students are expected to meet or exceed the schools' expectations of appearance and behavior. Unkempt clothing, shorts, sandals, mini-skirts, bare midriffs, excessive body piercings, t-shirts, bare shoulders...are oftentimes unacceptable for school teachers. Students should dress professionally at all times in the schools, typified by slacks, skirts, collared shirts, ties, closed toed shoes, and the like." excerpt from Student Teaching Handbook

So don't get me wrong. I love sweatpants. I recently told my roomate that I sincerely believed sweatpants should become acceptable as daily casual wear. I'm a big fan of comfort.

But, I'm also a big fan of looking professional. Last semester, we had a long introduction to the School of Education. Somewhere in between testing requirements and evaluation forms, there was mention of appropriate dress. Being the eager student I was, I listened carefully and began mentally planning outfits for my first few visits to the school. Now, maybe I'm just excited to play teacher and dress the part, but I've noticed some slacking in the dress code department at my school.

Elementary school doesn't necessarily lend itself to high fashion. Kids throw up, wet their pants, wave magic markers and wipe their noses on the nearest adult. So naturally, I'm not expecting to see people in their most fabulous outfits. But I do expect to see slacks and a button up shirt,or something along those lines. I've surprised by the number of jeans that I've seen teachers and other faculty wearing. I've seen jean shorts, and even occasionally sweatpants!

Personally, I think we should try to hold ourselves to slightly higher standards. Although we are working with children (who can be more than messy at times), as teachers we are still professionals. By dressing the part, I feel you will demand more respect, and also expect more from yourself.

We've all heard the saying where you know a Mom has given up when you only see her in sweats. It's essentially the same thing when you see a teacher constantly dressing down.

So, here's to a challenge for all the teachers (and student teachers!)- don't forget that you are a professional as well! Dress the part!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

" A Silent Voice"

This past Saturday, I was skimming through "People" while working out. I noticed an article about something called "School on Wheels" and decided to see what it was all about. The article described a school for homeless children, founded by Agnes Stevens.

When I searched for more information on Agnes Stevens, a newsclip came up on YouTube.

This videoclip gave more information about her program and interviewed a few of the children that had been helped by her program. I'm in awe of this undertaking. I've seen the challenge teaching brings when in a structured classroom. Knowing that, I'm extremely impressed by the volunteers who run this program. It's wonderful to know that there are programs like this out there for students who easily "fall through the cracks" in public schools. Hopefully this is a program that will grow enough to branch out into other cities.