Monday, February 16, 2015

Update, Part I: Student Teaching

Hello! I'm back! 

I have a feeling that my loyal readers have come to the understanding that it is perfectly normal for me to have month-long gaps between posts and not think anything of it, or at least I hope they have! Oh my, so much has happened since the last time I posted and so many things have happened since last time. I have no idea where to begin...maybe if I didn't go for so long, I wouldn't be in this boat...food for thought. 

I think I'll split my update into a couple of different posts because I have so much to say about everything and want to organize it better, where I don't have one excessively long post! 

I'll dedicate this post solely to my adventures in student teaching, because I'm sure I left off on quite the apprehensive note last time! 

It seems crazy to me that I'm coming into my seventh, (7th), SEVEN-th week student teaching. I feel like I just got there, now I'm almost halfway done! What?! Before I know it, I'll be graduating and getting a real job. Yikes...let's not get ahead of ourselves, though! I can easily say that I've grown exponentially within the past seven weeks. When I began, I was honestly intimidated by my students and generally everyone. I felt like a little girl on the first day of kindergarten. Now, I'm teaching an entire unit on exponential and logarithmic functions to all four sections of Algebra II. Wow. I always thought my professors were crazy when they told us how intense student teaching would be. I always figured that if I could make it through Number Theory, for Heaven's sake, then student teaching would be a cinch. Well, in some ways it is, because I at least understand the math I'm doing now, and I honestly find it to be really fun :) I'm also doing what I set out to do all along, so that helps quite a bit. However, if we're being completely honest, I had NO idea what I was about to get myself into! Student teaching is intense, crazy, sometimes stressful, and sometimes as mentally taxing as my hard proof classes were. I think the craziest part of all is figuring out how to be a teacher while still technically being a student. 

My cooperating teacher is wonderful and generally a wealth of knowledge for me. She is very level-headed, kind, and helpful! She is wonderful about giving me constructive feedback on my lessons and guiding me to get better at teaching. She, herself, is an incredible, well-versed teacher who is also incredibly well-respected by her peers and students alike. She definitely is someone to look up to and try to model my future classroom and career after. I definitely hit the jackpot when I ended up being under her guidance this semester!!! 

I enjoy my students quite a good deal. They are good people who I'm sure will do good things in the world after high school, or at least I hope they will! I'm finding it interesting to learn how each class has a certain sort of dynamic about it. It's also fascinating to see which of my students from one class are friends with students from another class, or even more so, which students are dating or have a crush on one another! Oh high school relationships...how quickly I forgot about them! Looking back, I find it hard to understand how most people can go through their high school years blindly assuming that they have found "the one" at their high school when they are young and really haven't gone out into the world to see who else is out there! (Obviously, there are cases that do work, but I wish that they could see just how much of life they still have to live and not to settle for some mediocre imitation sort of relationship!) I love hearing the funny things my students say, and sometimes the funny things they put on their homework/quizzes/tests. They have definitely taught me that a sense of humor and flexibility are two of the most important things a high school teacher can bring to the table! Most of them call on me for assistance during class now and often acknowledge me in the hallways. I find some sort of unexpected joy from being called Ms. Hladik, even if I still find it bizarre! Then again, I feel like I'm at the beginning of what could eventually be a laundry list of my aliases...going from just plain Amanda, to Aunt Amanda, to Miss Amanda (when I taught Sunday school), now Ms. Hladik, and who knows what other names await me in the future!

Of course, actually being in the classroom is only about half of what I'm supposed to do this semester. If I just had to worry about being responsible for the classroom aspect of it, I'd be golden. Unfortunately, I still have GADS of tasks to do for OSU. Yuck. The biggest, most all-encompassing thing on my plate is what they call the edTPA. It is an assessment of my ability to successfully teach content to students and make a change in their knowledge and learning. It is comprised of three tasks. The first is easily the worst, as it requires the most "stuff". I had to write three extremely detailed lesson plans, supply the readers with images of all materials used for said lessons, supply the readers with copies of all assignments and quizzes that were provided to my students, AND complete a five-part commentary on my planning process. The second task requires me to film myself teaching and select a 10-15 minute clip, then complete a commentary reflecting on ways I could improve. The final part requires me to analyze student scores on pre- and post-assessments, as well as select three student work samples on which I gave detailed feedback. Also there's a commentary corresponding to this part too, surely you made that leap in logic, though! The trickiest part is the fact that I needed to get permission from my students' parents for them to be potentially included in my video and/or student work sample, since they are minors. Thank goodness, only one student's parent did not give me permission, and it really wasn't the end of the world! Even so, it was something else to worry about!

The craziest part of the edTPA is that you have to be prepared to collect and/or prepare materials for all three tasks simultaneously, but are given ample time afterward to fully complete the commentary for the last two tasks. Needless to say, this provided a lot of stress for me over the past couple of weeks, but I'm finally making headway. Also, at one of our Saturday school sessions, I found out that I was way ahead of most everyone else and that I was doing just fine! It was definitely the reassurance I needed after stressing myself almost to the point of oblivion!! I am almost completely finished with Task I, and have completed about half of Tasks II and III. I'm content with that for the time being! 

Now, I am currently soaking up the joy of having a day off because of snow...technically school was already cancelled for today due to teachers' meetings, but we also got a reprieve on the meeting part! What a deal! :) Here's hoping I can hold onto my sanity through the rest of the semester and hopefully get around to posting more than once every seven weeks! 

Keep your eyes peeled for another fun post soon! :)