October

Week 5: September 30-October 4, 2013

Students started to learn the technique of coiling. To best show this, students are asked to make a tiki lantern that is entirely constructed from coils but must be five inches in diameter and nine inches in height. Students will learn to blend coils together to make a seamless surface and then cut through the cylinder and attach facial features like noses and eyebrows. Unlike the previous assignment, students were required to sketch a rough draft of what they wanted their pieces to look like. These were signed by the teacher to prove they had been seen. My mentor teacher and I decided that a part of the student’s grade would be having the rough draft at the time of grading. I thought this would be beneficial to see what the students started with and how they resolved problems they encountered. My mentor teacher, kept many of the examples of these tiki lanterns so the students could be inspired by how to design them. I also encouraged students to look up pictures online of tiki heads or masks. When creating the design, students must be sure to have five different aspects of their piece. There must be a forehead with design, eyes, a nose, a mouth, and a chin with design. (Photos will be attached along with the lesson instruction)

Lock Down: October 7, 2013

I make a point to be available briefly after school so that students can come in and work on things. I have lovingly nicknamed this 7th period. My mentor teacher rarely stays late because she has a family to take care of in addition to teaching. On October 7th around 2:45, the school went into lock-down. School gets out around 2:15 and many of the students were still in the parking lot and school. The announcement came over the intercom saying that this was not a drill. I quickly walked out of the classroom to look for any straggling students and then proceeded to lock the classroom door. I had 8 students who were staying late to work on projects so my first priority was to get them to a quiet space. I turned off all the lights and one of my students got the blinds. We then quietly went and sat down in the kiln room. I felt panicked because this was the first time that I was in a situation where I was really aware that my emotions could translate to the students. On the outside I was very calm and collected but on the inside I was scared. Thankfully, the classroom I teach in is connected to another art classroom. The teacher from that classroom came and we all decided to cram into the office. It felt reassuring to behind 3 locked doors and also to be with someone that had done a lock-down with students. Thankfully, this lock-down ended up being a false alarm that was triggered by a man carrying a large umbrella. The lock-down ended around 3:20.

I reflected on this experience and I realized I could have improved certain areas of my lock-down procedure. I have a storage room in my classroom which locks from the inside and does not have any glass. The room that we were sheltering in did have glass. Even though these blinds were closed and lights were off I think it would have been better to lock students in a room without glass and windows. Despite this one area that could have been improved overall, my composure was the highlighting aspect of this event. This was a nice reminder that this area of my personality is compatible with becoming a teacher.

Outside the Classroom: October Adventures

Homecoming Week:

Like most High Schools, homecoming week is marked and defined by several events. To the students, the most important event is the Homecoming dance. In addition to the dance, there is also the football game, homecoming royalty and spirit week. For this homecoming, the theme for spirit week was Fly Away. For Monday it was Pajama day. Much to my student’s horror, I proceeded to wear my old grandma looking flannel night gown. Tuesday was Tropical day. I decided to go the way of the dorky tourist, so I donned my Hawaiian shirt, sunscreen nose, shorts, and sandals. Wednesday was called “Into the Wild”. I put on my leopard print hat, and my snake skin skirt with cowboy boots. Thursday was Artic Adventure Day. I bundled up and wore some ski goggles on my forehead [it is school policy that students and teachers do not wear masks or things that cover the eyes]. Finally, Friday was called the City of Gold to honor our schools color scheme. For this, I purchased a shirt that was being sold by the DECA store, gold beaded necklaces, and dug up several other costume jewelry items.

The most impressive aspect of Homecoming week was the charity that the school had decided to fund. ASB created a program called “Stuff the Bus” in which students would get toys and games and donate them to Seattle Children’s Hospital. In order to get students behind the cause, the school managed to get Golden Tate from the Seattle Seahawks to come and speak at one of our assemblies. This visit from our beloved Seahawk unfortunately created somewhat of a mob. Much to my surprise Golden Tate was stampeded by students that refused to leave and return to class. This was a terrifying situation because students were shoving and pushing each other to get near Golden. Several other teachers, security members, and I, managed to get the students out of the gym and back to class. Overall, this first experience with student teaching and homecoming was a really enjoyable experience.

Sporting Events

I have several students that are members of Varsity and Junior Varsity Women’s Soccer. During the Homecoming week, there was an event called “Cram the Stands”. Women’s soccer is not usually a sport that has many students turn out to watch, so this event encouraged students to support their school and team. I decided to attend this event with my boyfriend. This was my first experience seeing my students in a situation outside of classroom and after school. It was very humorous to see their reactions. Many of them didn’t recognize me until I called them by name and spent a minute talking to them. Just from this brief encounter, I could tell that my students really felt my support and care for them. From what I gather, not many of the teachers will attend sporting events or partake in spirit days. It was enjoyable to see students react to my enthusiasm for supporting the school. After the game and several days to follow, students would mention they had seen me and their classmates would talk about sighting me like I was some kind of mythical creature like Sasquatch or Big Foot. Just from this experience, it told me that spending a few hours outside at a school event shows students that you care for them more than just academia and more like the individual people they are.

I have about 5 male students who are football players and 2 female that are dance and cheer. I got the privilege to sell tickets not only at the Homecoming Football game [10/11] but also at our school rivalry game [10/24]. At the homecoming game, the homecoming court was announced. Several of my students had been nominated and two were selected to be the King of Homecoming and also the Duke of Homecoming. The one that was selected Duke was one of my special needs students. It was really enjoyable to see a school nominate someone that was special needs rather than exclude them. He was incredibly proud of himself and loves to tell everyone that he was Duke of the school.

Part of the reason I enjoyed selling tickets so much is it gives me a chance to see students in a less formal setting. They love to run up and say hello to Ms. Schneider and often I will have students take photos with myself. I think that because I am only 7 years older than most of these students they feel like they can identify with me. It is because of this that after I asserted myself in the classroom as someone who is a TEACHER not just a STUDENT, they have a unique relationship with me where they can approach me and ask me questions but still maintain a respect for my position.

There were only a few negative things that I could say about the experience of selling tickets. In addition to having to do math on a Friday night, I wasn’t able to watch much of the game. However, when students asked if I was at the game they still were happy to hear I was there, but just selling tickets. Another negative thing that I experienced was the amount of substance abuse from parents coming to the game. I understand going out to dinner before a high school football game, but parents that showed up drunk and under the influence of marijuana were a poor example to students. We tell them to avoid drinking and doing drugs, and seeing their community members partaking in festivities to an excess is not a very good example. It frustrates me to see this kind of substance abuse is so prevalent. One way that I have started to combat this attitude of drinking culture in the classroom is by leaving my students with the phrase “Have a good weekend, see you Monday, and make good choices!” Many of them will laugh and brush it off but I think and hope that this phrase lets them know that someone cares and truly wants the best for them.

Detention!

When my mentor teacher and I are asked if we have a specific class that is more challenging to teach, without thinking twice we both answer in unison, “fifth period”. There will always be those students who like to push a teacher and see if they can incite a reaction. Students like this usually stop after realizing a teacher will not partake in the power struggle with them. However, there are the select few that will continue to push and actually escalate their behavior until it affects the class atmosphere. Unfortunately, there are several such students in fifth period. At the beginning of the year the male dominate class was comprised of a large group of friends that started by simply talking over the teacher and doing things such as stabbing clay with needle tools. Both my mentor teacher and I were able to quell this uprising fairly quickly by creating a different seating chart. However, where one fire died, another sprung up. This misuse of materials then became ruining other student’s projects and flinging large chunks of clay across the classroom. Now that I have been teaching for a bit, I realize that one of the best ways to reach students is through respect. I let students know that if they are willing to respect my rules and presence in the classroom, then I will respect them as adults.

I gave my first detention to a student who threw a chunk of clay across a classroom. Usually I would just correct this behavior by reminding and making him retrieve his ball of clay, but this time was different. I was crouching down helping another student and blended in with the students. I saw this boy, look around the classroom to see if a teacher was watching and then proceeded to throw a golf ball size chunk of clay at his friend’s project. He missed the intended target and hit another student behind his friend. At this point I called the student out and had him come with me to speak with my mentor teacher. We determined that because of the extensive warnings detention would be the best option. While this conversation was happening student number one’s project was sabotaged by his friend. So that day consisted of me delivering 2 detentions because of students disrespecting myself and others.

As an update, fifth period has now become one of the more pleasant classes and disruptions have lulled to an all time low.

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One thought on “October

  1. You hit a number of different ideas in this blog, not the least of which is the importance of attending after school events. Students love to see their teachers attend games. It means you care about your students whole being, not just the part that sits in ceramics. It gives you something with which to dialogue with your students as greeting or question before class begins. Second, I love that you participated in Spirit Week for all the same reasons. Students want to have some fun with their teachers and when you dress by the day’s theme, you make the statement, I can laugh and have fun, but within appropriate boundaries. Maybe some day you’ll volunteer to be in an assembly – kids love to cheer for the teachers they love.
    Finally, detention. What can I say? Although it is never joyful, some times you need to draw the line and say, “Enough.” My only question is this – did you call the parents? You need to communicate problems with parents as they occur, especially if they end up with detentions. Then, make sure you document and keep records of “infractions”, warnings, phone calls, detentions, etc This will be your evidence should your decisions ever come into question.

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