Teaching Hiatus

Due to some intense life changes, i.e. death in the family and more, to share just a bit, coinciding with the time around the end of my last substitute teaching employment, I have found other work for now, and will contemplate teaching perhaps in the future. For now, though, I do intend to get back to work on this blog at least, to develop a more in-depth, useful resource for teachers of French, F.L., and young and/or new teachers in general!

A teacher must first take care of him or herself before being able to care for and efficiently educate so many!

Stay Tuned…for a while…

School is overwhelmingly busy. So, so, so, so, so much time invested in all the processes.

Stay Tuned for Where I Spend Most of My Day, pt. 2 (it looks better now). It will be even better when I get a mounted Smartboard.

I do feel thankful for a lot of things, but I could certainly use 4-6 more hours in every day, and, I bet that still wouldn’t be enough! 🙂

It’s going…it’s going……

Busy as can be- there really are no breaks for 1st year teachers!

I have barely had the time to blog. Granted I could maybe make more time for it, but I’m too sleep-deprived to prioritize correctly. Instead I will occasionally watch TV, or every once in a while go out for dinner, and oh-dear-me I did have a get-together last weekend! There’s just so much work. And the crazy part is, at the school I’m at, I could do less, but I think they hired me because they could tell I am motivated to do my best, and to appropriately push the students.

It’s a lot of work- grading, putting grades into my gradebook and online, I’ve started putting the homework up online, I have to think of projects and the exams for the end of the trimester, I have several students who missed more than a week of classes I have to think about (and make decisions about reducing credit) and more.

Not to mention I am still in a sticky situation with my “mentor”. I have to come up with stuff for her to do (sounds like the opposite of mentoring, right?). But she did help me with some grading, which I think is mostly good.

I better go, and I hope I take my own advice this weekend!

What did I teach my first week?

And the perfectionistic part of me asks “And why haven’t I put up any lesson plans like I promised?”. I’ll share a quick update of what I did in the first 8 days of teaching.

In all classes (French 1-3):

Words in English that came from the French – I found an old 2-page document that had some of these words organized by categories such as “Arts”, “Food and Dining”, “Home and Furnishing”, “Military” and others, and I truncated it (plus it was so old it was typed with purple ink). I put it onto 1 page with the category and then an example in each- and I had the kids try to think up words in each. They did a good job, and of course, my French 3 class did a much better job than the other levels. They even got a lot of words I hadn’t thought of! It’s a good activity and I shared that the purpose is to get them to see how much French they already know, and how many words we took from the French.

Why Speak French – I found a resource that gave 10 reasons for speaking French, then I had them think up their own or choose from the page. I also polled them about if they were there because they wanted to learn French or if it was because there is a 2 year language requirement, or if their parents wanted them to, or if they didn’t want to take Spanish……this was interesting. I had one girl whose brother has a French girlfriend. I had others who had taken Spanish for a few years and didn’t want to take it any more. I think it’s a fun and worthwhile activity.

Review– I started to get into some review with the French 2 and 3’s- mostly by doing activities where they were introducing themselves to their classmates and me. I had the French 2’s work with “aimer” and other activities. I gave a quiz to the French 2’s. I showed some videos (still don’t have a Smartboard unfortunately), and I did some readings with the French 3’s.

General French introductions for French 1– I let them pick French names- mais oui! I have them say “Bonjour Mademoiselle” and I am making them ask to go to the bathroom in French. I also went over classroom objects, some phrases (I have posters that I hold up that say “in French!” or “How do I say that in French?”), and we went over introductions, how-are-you’s, and goodbyes. I gave them a quiz over it as well.

I am trying to do a lot of cultural things (like showing an awesome rap about Paris from the Bienvenue series- it was so funny I could barely hold in my laughter). And I am trying to get the classes to speak in French and I will ask questions and have them respond with some French.

I need to plan and/or find some different ways to review/see what they know.

Why you need to seriously consider if a student is serious about having to go the bathroom or not…

I know some teachers make students wait, but sometimes you can tell it’s urgent. I also recognize that some periods it is more acceptable to force them to wait until the end of class, and I think it does help if you have a general rule that students cannot go to the bathroom (they easily end up abusing the privilege), but whoops! This teacher is probably going to regret…

Teacher Forces Students to Urinate in Lunchbox

Yeah. That one is going to be tough to justify. I would definitely have let the kid go to the bathroom. I know I drink a lot of water and have trouble making it to the bathroom sometimes during the 4 minute break.

Oh the humor…the horror. Back to lesson planning and grading 🙂

California Implements a Statewide Homeschooling Ban

I am very saddened to hear that California is trying to ban homeschooling. Yes, it’s important that the parent or whomever the teacher is should have “credentials”, but that sounds like more political and technical jargon mumbo jumbo. By mumbo jumbo, I mean that this misunderstanding is being taken way too far. It started with a welfare case because an unqualified mother tried to keep her 8 children home and home-school them.

You cannot move from some protests and a few court cases, to a state-wide ban on something that is the only way some kids will ever enjoy or experience true learning. How can you take away this beautiful process from over 160,000 people. I’m sure some of them may not be the most qualified, so maybe a high school degree could be a basic requirement. They can also have the students and teacher check in with the local Education committee. But they can’t put it into a rigid lock down and force bright, creative people to get “credentials”.

I see part of their point as logical, but that is disgusting that they are banning homeschooling. It’s just not right.

And part of the judges’ ruling involved quoting a case from 1961: “ ‘A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.‘ “

Does anyone else see something weird about that? A lot of kids who would prefer to be homeschooled are turned off to schooling because of this brainwashing mentality. Teaching students to obey the law and to never question authority is not good education. Teaching students to be individual thinkers who critically reflect on different areas of education and how they intertwine with society and moral and political codes should be the hard-to-achieve goal in the minds of educators. Teachers should want to challenge students to think creatively, and on higher levels (some students’ lack of ability to do so is a completely different subject I will address later). Critical thinking in education should encourage students to examine all aspects of their education, their upbringing, their society, and the values held by any given culture they are in.

Forcing some students to go to public schools is like a death sentence- to their spirit and creativity.

Laws like this = NO!

It is unnecessary and unjust. I have several good friends who are still recovering from the academic wounds of being required to go through traditional schooling.

Two weeks of seminar done, let the real fun begin

Today was our last seminar. I realized I actually did enjoy my time in the seminars, with the various informative guests in the morning (the nurse, a school and law guy, a differentiating instruction specialist, and so on), and in the afternoon the specific foreign language teaching and methods. It was really nice to have a real French teacher giving input about teaching, whereas all throughout my education courses, there have only been a few examples about foreign language (as opposed to other subjects). I am glad that he will be observing me as well, because the other supervisor speaks Spanish, but he is observing both Spanish and German.

I learned a lot more than I thought I would in two weeks. The book “Contextualized Language Instruction” gives quality research on FL teaching methods and is not too heavy or dry (although sometimes I got a little bored, but that is just me and my poor attention span).

Overall, I’m a little nervous, even about meeting my teacher tomorrow, just because it means that the teaching part is actually coming true…I’m going to be teaching in a week. Aie!

Resume Tips for Educators

Some of these are not educator-specific, but I’m going to just include all the tips I got from the Career Guidance Counselor this week at school.

  1. Remember to focus on the most recent and relevant experiences, education, accomplishments, etcetera (you don’t need to say much about your retail experience seven years ago)
  2. LIMIT IT TO ONE PAGE! (You can always elaborate in person. ALSO- if you have to go onto 2 pages, you must make it even (not just a paragraph on the second page)
  3. Put the most relevant category at the top (for Educators, this would be Education, followed by Field Experience/Work, etc)
  4. Bring letters of recommendation separately to interviews, and references.
  5. Do not use a boring Word template. Be creative, but uniform, and aesthetic.
  6. Be consistent in your verb and word choice (creating, designing or assisted, planned)
  7. Only include your GPA if it is 3.0 or above.
  8. Include any certification in its own section, and you may put “pending” or “anticipated May 2008” for example.
  9. You can break activities into two columns as long as it looks neat.
  10. Possible sections for Educators: Education, Certification, Teaching Experience, Relevant Skills, Memberships, Professional Experience, Service, Achievements, and more.
  11. Name and current address, email, and telephone number at the top, easy to see.

There are many more hints I have, but those are some of the best. Read more on this site about information on interviews and cover letters.

“Can I Go to the Nurse?” Keeping Students Safe and Healthy

This information is based on a presentation given by a school nurse who services hundreds of students in the greater Philadelphia area, so keep that in mind, because different states require different things (liability and laws in particular).  Here is a short summary of what a school nurse is there for, and when to let kids go see them, or not.

1) Direct care & First Aid– administrate medication, evaluate treatment of injuries, assess illness, and provide treatments (such as EpiPen which teachers may need training for)

2) Public Health Practitioner– monitor immunization status, liaison to Dep’t of Public Health, monitor health risks to school community (outbreaks, etc)

3) Case finder– assess students in select grades for: vision, growth, hearing, and scoliosis, and referrals made as needed (students may be taken out of class for testing)

4) Case manager– collaborate with families and Primary Care Providers, ensure continuity of care, coordinate services in the school setting to reduce absenteeism

5) Health consultant– resource to students, families, and staff, member of comprehensive student support team

A few points to remember: Nurses give teachers information only on a need-to-know basis, and it is done in confidentiality. Teachers should learn the difference between emergencies and non-emergencies as far as sending a student to the nurse goes (they only have certain hours they are available, except for in an emergency). Always ask about all students in classes to find out about food allergies, etcetera and, when in doubt, err on the side of safety. Teachers are required to report any “confessions” students tell them about abuse.