Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Faculty meetings

Required faculty meetings. Doesn't the sound of that just make you cringe?

It shouldn't.

I went to my first faculty meeting last week in regards to the school board approving a referendum.

In the last two years, Indiana has altered the way provide money for the General Fund.
Previously they used money from property tax, sales tax, and income tax. Now, dollars for the General Fund come from sales and income taxes alone, which has proven to be an unstable source of revenue.

Obviously, this is a big deal. And I would have missed out had I not attended with enthusiasm. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why I teach...

School is more than just academics. It’s more than a calculus test. It’s more than building and using new vocabulary. It’s more than the ability to memorize dates or historical events.

For teenagers, it’s life.

It’s where they start and end their day. It’s where they eat. It’s where they make friends and form enemies. It’s where they begin defining and making sense of the world they live in.

To them, it’s everything.

And it matters. It matters to them. And as an educator, it matters to me.

I believe in my students. I believe they are capable. At times, I believe for them when they are unable to believe themselves.

I have seen and witnessed growth on so many different levels while student teaching at Carmel High School.

I have seen quiet students speak boldly. I have seen loud students listen. I have seen failing students pass. I have seen passing students helping others. I have seen lives changed.

Maybe teaching has less to do with test scores and graded papers than it has to do with continuously building positive relationships with kids who unknowingly need an adult advocate. Maybe it’s about caring even when you can’t see the end result.

Maybe it’s about witnessing the progress of one class or one student. One day at a time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Put a smile on your face

Student teaching is going incredibly well this week. One thing after another is falling into place. I am feeling more and more comfortable in the classroom. I just can't stop smiling.

Just for fun, here is a list (no particular order) of my favorite student teaching moments so far:

1. Learning to be more assertive and a little more "tough." I'll always be a touchy-feely person but I am learning how have high expectations for students as well as myself.
2. Today I ran into a student outside of class. Her reaction? Jumping up in down with a short and high pitched squeal. How cool is that?
3. Celebrating Abraham Lincoln's birthday and talking about journalism in the 1880s and today.

4. My first faculty meeting. Call me crazy but I actually enjoyed it. It's neat to see the entire staff together.
5. I went to lunch with the theater teachers and we had a blast. It was nice to get out of the room and talk to other teachers. Not that my own teacher isn't great of course!
6. SSR: Sustained silent reading. At CHS, students get 30 minutes on Thursday and Friday during first period to read novels. I love it for two reasons. Books become a topic of discussion. Teachers also participate (or they should). It is a nice break while still benefiting students.
7. I love seeing my students on a daily basis. It is so neat to be in their lives consistently. While I did a lot of popcorn teaching in college, student teaching is a whole new world of continuous instruction and continuous demands.

That is all for now. But I am sure I am missing 100 other things I love. :)

Hang in there, student teachers. We are halfway done!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Calling the rents'

Friday, I called home to two parents.

I set a goal early in the week (6:30 a.m. Saturday morning) to communicate positive feedback to parents of students who are doing particularly well. To be honest, my goal was set only to have a third goal for the week.

It turned out to be an awesome experience and one I plan to continue.

If you are a student teacher, you are probably scared or unsure of what to say to parents even if you are calling to tell them their child is succeeding.

Here are some tips from my experience:

1. Say hello and introduce yourself
For example, I said, "Hi. Is this the parent of _____? (They said yes.) I said, "My name is Miss Gibson and I have ____ in my Newspaper 1-2 class.
2. Tell them why you are calling
For example, I said, "I am just calling to let you know ___ has really improved this week as far as speaking during class discussions and I really appreciate her feedback. I just wanted to you to know she is doing well."
3. Realize they will probably be shocked that you are calling for a GOOD reason
Be prepared to restate what you just said in different terms. I think I had to repeat myself twice to both parents because they needed a second time to comprehend what I was saying.

Calling parents was a wonderful experience. It really showed me that there are parents who want to be involved in their child's education and want to hear how their child is doing.

What would it look like if more teachers were proactive about contacting parents instead of reactive to problems when they occur?

Nothing short of amazing, I'll say.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pardon the interruption...

Feb. 12, 2010 marked Abraham Lincoln's (201) birthday. It also marked my third (maybe fourth) two-hour delay in that past few weeks.

Throw in a snow day and President's Day and you have a pile of lesson plans that haven't been used yet.

When you get behind due to weather delays or other unwanted (in some cases, wanted) time off school, you have to make a series of choices in regards to student learning.

I talked to two veteran teachers, Beth Bloom at Amelia High School in Batavia, OH and C.E. Sikkenga at Grand Haven High School in Grand Haven, MI.

Sikkenga said he recommends young teachers look at cancellations as a gift and use them as a chance to recharge. I think we can all agree that a few extra hours of sleep can go a long way.
Secondly, Sikkenga said it is important to know your content and be aware of what is most necessary to teach.

He said, "A lot of effective teaching is not as much knowing what you have to teach so much as knowing what you don't have to teach. A lot of that comes from experience."

Bloom also said she recommends student teachers enjoy snow days and cancellations and to be flexible. While it can be challenging to meet deadlines and state standards when time is lost, eventually, Bloom said, "Everything still manages to work itself out."

Overall, I think it is important to plan effectively. This is something that has been a challenge for me so far. It's hard enough to plan for things to go well, let alone plan for potential problems.

But I think if I make planning a priority, I will see results that I am not seeing now.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bulletin board

This is my bulletin board for student teaching. It talks about where I am from and the things that are important to me. :)

Also, my kids just had a new issue of the newspaper. Check it out at