Friday, September 9, 2011

My School Year So Far...

This August marked the beginning of my "in the classroom" experience! I am in the practicum phase of my MAT program, which is essentially my student teaching. Fortunately, I will be with my mentor teacher and my students for the entire duration of the school year! I am really excited to be able to see the growth, change and fluctuation that occurs over the course of two semesters.

As far as details go, I am at my county's middle school for first and second periods each day, for 8th grade Language Arts. So far, I have helped students construct Veteran's Day essays, created and led an activity on verbals, and observed very carefully. Regardless of what I am doing, the more I am there, the more confident I feel that I have finally meandered my way down the path I was supposed to be on.
I love being in the classroom, even if it is just for observation. I love the heady air of possibility and potential that hangs over everything each morning. Even when the kids come in sleepy or grumpy or homework-less, I'm sure that I smile like a big goon every time I see them, simply because they are living, breathing, walking, talking potential and I feel honored to have a part of shaping that potential.

As I watch my mentor teacher, take my classes, and begin to develop my own concrete ideas of what I want my classroom to look and act like, I have become a devoted convert to the reading/writing workshop method of Language Arts instruction. The atmosphere of collaboration and respectfulness are exactly what I hope to offer the students who will be in my classroom. In case you're interested (and because I always love book lists!) the two books that have led to this complete conversion are:

The Book Whisperer, by Donalyn Miller
In the Middle, by Nancie Atwell

If any of you have other reading suggestions for me, please let me know! Or if you would like to share details about what works in your classroom, I would love to read and learn from them.

In addition to student teaching, I'm also working as a Graduate Assistant in the education department at my university, and that has been wonderful as well. I'm assisting with research (which is one my most favorite things, as if I weren't nerdy enough) and I'm also taking a great English class. My plate is heaping, but great and I hope that everyone reading this has a great plate as well :-)

Happy Weekend!

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