funny moments

There is truly never a dull moment in an Elementary School classroom. I can guarantee that I will never go a day without laughing or smiling at something funny or sweet a student says. Here are a few moments that I found amusing.

Student (we will call him Cody) is not listening and is becoming a distraction for the entire class.

Co-op Teacher: “Are you listening to me right now, Cody?”

Cody: “No.”

Co-op Teacher: “How do you show me that you’re listening?”

Cody: “Stare at you.”




I am playing classical music in the background while the students work on a writing task.

Student: “Can you play something from this century?”




Student (we will call him Randy Smith) is taking forever to get his outdoor clothes on and get out the door at the end of the day, which is typical behaviour for him.

Me: “You’re being a slow poke!”

Randy: “No. I’m being Randy Smith!”

Me: *laughs* “Same thing!”




Students are having a talking circle at the end of our last day. Each one is taking a turn saying what their favourite part of the last three weeks has been, while my teaching partner and I were in the class.

Student: “Thanks for the muffins. I will miss you. And…”    *thinks*    “God bless us all!”




The class is making banana muffins as a healthy snack (for my teaching partner’s Nutrition unit). I assign a group of girls to smash the frozen bananas up in a bowl. The girls come up to me and say “We broke the bowl!” Upon inspection, I see that they did, indeed, break several holes into the bottom of the bowl from trying so hard to smash up the bananas.

final week of pre-internship

I taught my half day on Monday afternoon and, thankfully, it went very well. Due to the way the schedule worked out this week, I ended up teaching an entire afternoon of Arts Ed (the subject area of my unit) to count as my lessons for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Again, I had some tough-to-manage action going on in the classroom, as students were given time to work on the musical pieces they had been creating in small groups. I ran this like Daily 5 – having 3 stations for the groups to cycle through in timed rounds. Each station helped the group to prepare or reflect upon their final project (my unit’s summative assessment): Station 1 allowed the students to practice their musical piece with their instruments of choice, Station 2 had the groups create a write up about their piece, and the third Station involved a group assessment of the students’ cooperation thus far. The Instrument station was a bit noisy, but again, this was productive noise. My co-op reassured me that there would have been no way to evade this noise level problem, so, all things considered, I was happy with how the group work went.

Once students had a chance to practice and prepare, they performed their music pieces for the class. I was very impressed with how well they did, and how they embodied and applied the concepts we had been learning as a whole class. The students who were not performing also made me proud by showing proper audience behaviour (something that we are constantly working on with my group of movers and shakers!).

I finished the day with a crossover Arts Ed lesson that infused Music into Visual Art, by having students draw pictures using only music notes (pictures below). They turned out great and I was pleasantly surprised with all of the creativity my students showed during this activity. My main goal during this time was to keep the students settled and calm, as this was the end of the day, when the students tend to be more unfocused and harder to rein in. They worked quietly and productively on their task, so I was very pleased.

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Teaching a half day was a totally new experience, and I found that once I got started, the time just flew by! The parts of the day when you are teaching seem like they happen in the blink of an eye.

Today, my teaching partner taught her half day. Tomorrow, our class is going on a field trip (in the afternoon) to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, so I am very excited to have that kind of out-of-classroom experience with the students (I’m interested to see how the students behave in a different environment).

Thursday is my final day, and I am already trying to mentally prepare myself for how bittersweet this will be! I am very proud and excited to finish such a successful 3 week block, but I am going to miss my students SO much! I have grown to know them (and ADORE them!) much more after seeing them every day, all day. Although they are, at times, interesting to manage, I love them each to pieces and couldn’t have asked for a better class to teach me how to be a better educator! It’s so difficult to spend 3 weeks straight with a group of students and then be ripped away so abruptly! My goal is to enjoy every last second of them before pre-internship is over.

Although I am heartbroken that pre-internship (which has been an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING experience for me) is coming to an end, I also know that this means there are new beginnings in store for me. My internship awaits me in the fall, with many more learning experiences to come!

Until next time,

-KKF

taking risks

Yesterday, my faculty advisor came to observe and his suggestion for what I should work on was: “take risks.”

So today, I decided to do just that and try a group work/peer teaching activity, which the students sometimes struggle with and, therefore, is also difficult to manage.

Over the course of my unit so far, we have been learning a lot of new music terms like dynamics, tempo, call and response, rhyme, lyrics, etc. As today was basically the half way point, I had the students in small groups of 3-5. Each group was assigned one of the music definitions that they were in charge of ‘teaching’ to the class.

It got a bit noisy while the small groups were deciding on their strategies to teach their concept, but, as my co-op reiterates, productive noise is okay. I was very impressed with how well the groups worked together and explained their topics in front of their classmates (especially because it was an end-of-day lesson). It showed me that the students really were paying attention while I was teaching my lessons previously. Such a rewarding experience to see a group of 8 and 9 year olds leading the class in a song that you usually lead!

I hope that this activity today was a good bridge into tomorrow’s lesson, which introduces my unit summative assessment and culminating activity (students will be in the same small groups and are tasked with creating their own beat with instruments, as well as incorporating one of the music elements we’ve learned into their beat, which they will perform for the class). Now I know that these groups of students are capable of working well together and are grasping the material, so I am excited to see what they can produce!

-KKF

pre-internship so far

Life has been super busy lately, so I thought I would do a quick fill-in on what has happened since my last blog post.

Day 3: Wednesday 

I taught a Writer’s Workshop lesson (which is SUPER tough to differentiate in the class I am in) on poem/lyric writing. I was feeling discouraged at the end of it, because I felt that some students did not get the proper amount of support and I was being pulled in a million different directions trying to help everyone. I wish I would have tried peer support groups. But my co-op teacher and faculty advisor only had praises to sing, which made me feel a lot better. Having such supportive and positive role models and mentors during pre-internship is such a fulfilling and inspiring experience. The people I have the pleasure to work with during my 3 week block have made my time at GMS AMAZING so far!

Day 4: Thursday

I taught a lesson on First Nations music and their instruments. My lesson was at the end of the day, and students were introduced to all of the made instruments I had for them. This could have been a big disaster (as my class is a big squirrely by the end of the day) but my classroom management was on point during this lesson – something I was EXTREMELY proud of! Another great day in the books.

Day 5: Friday (End of First Week!!)

I did a lesson on Tempo. The students loved the old school metronome I brought in! The students were a little bit harder to manage today (Fridays and Mondays seem to be a bit tougher – haha)

Day 6: Monday

Today, I taught Writer’s Workshop again, this time with a focus on writing about how a piece of music makes you feel and what you see in your mind while it is playing. This Writer’s Workshop lesson went a lot better, in my opinion, but I still definitely struggle with how to provide enough support for my students, who are at a range of levels and abilities. It made me feel a lot better when my co-op teacher told me that Writing is one of the toughest subjects to teach and adapt for all of the students, and she still finds it a challenge. I am excited for my Writer’s Workshop class next week now!

Funny “Kids Say the Darndest Things” moments…

My co-op teacher was reading a Robert Munsch book (Up Up Down) about climbing a tree. One character fell down and onto their “bottom.” One of the students in the back chimed in “Gluteus Maximus!” I could barely contain my giggles.

Also, today was my birthday and one of my students said “You’re 35?” I thought it was cute. Another piped up, “If I would have known, I would have brought you something.” Such sweet kids; I love them to death. ❤

This Week

I am feeling a lot more confident and relaxed; everything just seems routine and natural now. My classroom management and ‘withitness’ does not require me to think about it anymore; I can easily multitask teaching, scanning the room, and giving those special ‘teacher looks’ (which I have perfected). It’s amazing how much more I have learned about my students in just a week. I am growing so attached, I’m already dreading our final week and last day.

3 Way Conferences are on Friday, and my teaching partner and I have the opportunity to sit in on them, which I am very excited about! That will be such a great learning experience.

SUPER exciting news for my classroom: at the end of the day, the school principal came in with the new EA allotment schedule, and our class now has support for the entire afternoon and every morning from 9-9:30, which is HUGE in a class like ours! I can see why our co-op teacher was so overjoyed to hear this news. It’s such a good feeling when you know that your students will be getting all of the support that they possibly can.

Tomorrow, my faculty advisor is coming in for his second visit. I am teaching all about dynamics – wish me luck!

Peace. Love. Teach.

-KKF

day two in a nutshell

Today was an awesome teaching day for both me and my pre-internship partner. Both of our lessons went SO well (hopefully we can have a repeat of that tomorrow when our faculty advisor comes to watch us – haha)! After two days in the school and with the kids, I’m definitely getting into the swing of things. They students are all so sweet, I find myself resisting the urge to just gather them up in a hug and hold on for five minutes. There is nothing quite like learning alongside a group of kids! Such a rush!

In my lesson today, students learned about Call and Response in songs (where one person says something – the ‘call’ – and the group repeats it back – the ‘response’). We sang Down By The Bay (with my guitar) and Che Che Kooley (an African song kind of like Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes). The kids ate this up! I was amazed at how easy they are to manage when you have them all hooked. It definitely made my job as a teacher 10 times easier.

I’m excited to take my confidence and calm, cool, collected attitude from today’s lesson and use it tomorrow during my Writing lesson and for the rest of my three week block (and beyond!).

-KKF

pre-internship day 1 snapshot

Day 1 was a success! I am just happy to get to hang out with students all day and soak up their vibrant personalities. Schools have always felt like such welcoming, warm places to me, so it’s awesome to get to spend the next three weeks there with a fantastic co-op and a group of 25 wonderful students (who keep me on my toes, teach me TONS, and help me improve as a teacher every single MINUTE). Here are some of today’s highlights:

Best Thing About My Lesson: The students really enjoyed the hands-on music tasks (which is good, because they are part of every single lesson in my unit!). Yet another reminder that music works magic with kids!

Uh-Oh Moment: YouTube videos wouldn’t play with sound! Stay calm, think fast, ALWAYS have a back up plan (and time fillers).

Something To Work On: Relax. Keep expectations high and students accountable.

Something New I Tried: “Around the World” engagement strategy: Teacher moves around the room while talking to students and they have to continually pivot to stay facing the teacher. Will have to practice this a bit more so all students are following me with their eyes.

Quote of the Day: “Is Superman real?”

What I’m Excited for Tomorrow: Playing my guitar and singing with the students! Wish me luck!

-KKF

i am a question mark

Today, my classmates and I went on a tour through the Mackenzie Art Gallery’s newest exhibition, Moving Forward Never Forgetting (which was phenomenal and I highly recommend everyone go check out). During some hands-on experience of making art, we were each asked to “draw a symbol that represents you in this moment.” Instantly, I decided upon a question mark, and it seemed very fitting.

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This year (and semester) has been a time of great learning and growing for me. But it seems the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. When I was in high school, a teacher whose classroom I volunteered in told me, “You could walk into a classroom tomorrow and be a teacher.” And I thought, “Yeah, I could!” Now that I am three years into my degree, I think, “No! I am not ready! I could go to school for three more years and not be ready!” It just goes to show you how complex a job teaching truly is, and that having your B.Ed. only begins to prepare you for being an educator; you do so much more learning when you actually ARE a teacher.

So while I may still have so many questions and things I want to learn (especially with my three week block coming up – countdown is at 11 days!), I am in one of the best professions to continue to be a lifelong learner alongside my students.

Until next time,

-KKF

your kids teach you, all right

Today, I did a pre-assessment for my Arts Ed unit on Music that I will be teaching in March-April. I had students fill in the first two columns of a KWL chart (K – what I Know already and W – what I Want to know). When reading them through tonight, I saw a great question in the W column: “How was music invented?”

Then I went, “Hmmm… I actually don’t know!” And here I am, Googling the answer and doing some research at 8:00 p.m. Hopefully, I can share my finding and start a discussion with my students during one of my lessons.

This moment just goes to show you that your students can teach you a lot (and get you thinking from their point of view)! I can’t wait to keep learning with my Grade 3’s!

-KKF

bittersweet

Yesterday (December 3rd) was my final day of fall semester pre-internship. I think it was one of the best – I just had an all-around awesome day with the students, my co-op teacher, and teaching partner.

My end-of-day Science lesson went over very well, which was the cherry on top of my day. I felt that I followed through with my PD goal better in this last lesson that I had in all the previous 7. After last week’s Science experiment went a tad awry, I wanted to give a last class experiment another shot and really work on my classroom management skills.

I started the lesson by telling students my expectations: We will not interrupt someone else when it is their turn to talk. If we have something to say, we will raise our hand. If we talk out of turn, we will get a point (my co-op uses this strategy and it works very well). If you get three points, you will have to sit out of the experiment (with a chance to rejoin if you feel you can use your self control better, which I did not tell the students outright). The students are always eager to do hands-on work, so this provides motivation to behave appropriately.

I then used the point system diligently to let students know that I wanted to be taken seriously. In previous lessons, I feel that I let too many inappropriate behaviours slide, and this caused the misbehaviour of the entire class to continue escalating throughout the lesson, with minimal chance of regaining control over the class. I also felt that I scanned the room well during this lesson, and used my ‘teacher look’ to stop inappropriate behaviour in its tracks. Overall, I felt a lot more in control during the entire class directions for the experiment.

When I started my pre-internship, I was very torn on using ‘consequences’ with students. For this group of Grade 3’s, however, this is the strategy that seems to work best. They need very explicit directions on what the teacher expects to see, and also clear consequences for not following these guidelines. I think if a teacher started the year using a different strategy, these students could use more self-discipline and self-motivation. It is especially hard to judge, as some students in the class physically cannot control their mouths and bodies.

Perhaps a better way to look at it than ‘consequences’ is simply making students accountable and responsible for their actions. Often, I am worried that I will be seen as too harsh, but I have definitely learned that a teacher who doesn’t use authority in front of their students is basically inviting them to walk all over them. If students are not aware of what you expect of them, and you do not enforce these guidelines, they will never respect you or the guidelines that are needed to run your classroom smoothly.

After “my turn to talk” and explain the instructions (which I also think I did very well – with clarity and repetition), the students had a chance to break into groups and do specified jobs to complete their task for the experiment (they were building bridges). This also went fairly smoothly and the only time I had some difficulty reining the students in was when I had to test how much weight each group’s bridge could hold. My co-op reminded me how hard it is to manage group work within a noisy classroom.

Overall, I am very proud of my final lesson and of how far I have come in only 8 weeks. I was sad to see the students leave the room at the end of the day and I am already excited to step back into their classroom in the winter semester. I can only imagine how much more I will learn and grow during my 3 week block.

Until next time,

-KKF

second last lesson

Last Wednesday (November 26) was my second last day of Fall semester pre-internship. Unfortunately, my teaching partner was sick and could not come to school, so it was just my co-op teacher and me.

What did work out well, however, was that my teaching partner was supposed to be teaching Phys Ed, so I ended up giving my Phys Ed lesson from last week (which got changed to being outside) a second shot! It was definitely a challenge to get the students to listen attentively, but I made it through the lesson with only minor problems.

My actual lesson for the day was a Science experiment during the final period, where students built structures out of toothpicks and marshmallows and tested how much weight they could hold before collapsing. The students were put into partners during this experiment, and I was very happy with how well they worked together. We brainstormed strategies for team work and cooperation before starting the experiment, so that was a helpful introduction.

When the students transitioned into their new spots with their partners, they listened very well. This continued during our brief review of the previous topics covered in the unit. When I started to explain the experiment instructions, however, their attention started to wander and then I could not completely get the class’ attention back for the remainder of the lesson.

Using hands-on materials with this group of students is challenging because they get so distracted. I waited until all of the instructions were given (and repeated various times) before handing out the materials for the experiment, but giving students edible manipulatives at the end of the day didn’t exactly go very smoothly… as I’m sure you can imagine.

During my post conference with my co-op teacher, she pinpointed not using consequences for inappropriate behaviour strictly enough as the main problem with my lesson: once the students get out of control, it is VERY difficult to rein them in again. This group needs clear consequences and diligent reinforcement of these consequences so that they understand they will not get away with interrupting or disrupting the class.

I am teaching Science again next week (for my FINAL lesson!) and took this subject on because I really want to focus on my classroom management. We are going to be doing another experiment, and I hope to be more authoritative with the students so they understand that I will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour this time around. I am going to focus very intently on my PD goal for this lesson (classroom management) and I hope I see some success. Wish me luck!