Friday, January 06, 2012
I just finished my first week of student teaching, and so far it has been great. I will be meeting my cooperating teacher on Monday, and she will be the last piece of my successful puzzle. I have talked with the cheerleading coach, and next Tuesday I am going to start “assistant coaching”. I also plan on helping out with the dance team, but since the coach does not work at the school. I will have to wait until Tuesday night at practice to speak with her.
I know this semester is only going to get harder as I transition from observer to fulltime teacher, but so far, I feel like it will be a breeze compared to what I experienced with other practicums. It has been a week, and I have not had one student ask for a pencil, and I have two freshman classes! There don’t seem to be any severe behavior problems either. Some kids have attitudes, but no one has been outright disrespectful to me yet. On the contrary, students have been so kind and welcoming. They all say high and good morning to me in the hallways and outside of school; during last semester’s practicum, the students would look down at the ground and try to walk in another direction. I’m not sure if it’s because I started here on day one and at the other school I came in during the middle of the semester, or if it’s because of the cultural differences. Of the 100 or so students I have, only 1 of them is American (doesn’t associate with a Hispanic culture or family). I don’t know why, but I always seem to get along better/connect better with members of the Hispanic community. I am hoping to connect with the Latino Leaders club and hopefully take them to UNL for the symposium hosted by MASA.
Two of my classes are part of the dual language program (DL FACTS) and it is exciting to see how many freshmen are starting out on the right track and who are successful in both Spanish and English. I also think it’s great because once students in the ESL department leave the sheltered classes, they have the opportunity of being in the dual language program, and they continue receiving input in their native language (only the Hispanic students). I have a couple students in my ESL class who are from Myanmar (Thailand), and so far there are not a lot of clubs or programs that support their native language or culture.
Even though I have found the environment here to be quit enjoyable, there are a few things that I don;t really understadn yet. First, students have to pay to park in the parking lot…..when did this turn into UNL? Second, the teacher’s lounge reminds me of the little tiny room that fat guy from Office Space gets put in. International Languages and ESL share a room with the Social Studies Department, and there are no assigned desks, just random tables with computers for everyone to use. The computers are old and don’t even have Java or adobe installed. I guess I was spoiled last semester—their teacher’s lounge was AMAZING! There are also no supplies available to teachers. Last semester I had an endless stock room where I could take what I needed for class as well as store my own materials. Here there is nothing. If you need paper you have to go fill out a form in the office. I understand that this is being done to protect the school’s supplies, but it makes it hard for teacher’s to get what they need–especially in the case of an emergency. The budget seems a lot more stretched here, but after teaching in Mexico for 6 months with no electricity I feel prepared to deal with all sorts of supplies issues. Who knows, maybe it’s not as bad as I have heard. My fourth problem is the technology. Since I have been here, the tardy program has crashed every day, and we have lost internet 2 of the 4 days. I feel like I’m teaching in Mexico again. The computers are falling apart and about a third of them in my DL FACTS lab do not even turn on. Students do not have access to Prezi or WordReference.com…..are you kidding me? I understand blocking Facebook and Twitter, but most of them have that on their phones anyways. These kids are being sheltered from amazing online resources. As a teacher, I am also being limited with what I can do with them. Many computers don’t have Adobe or Java installed so I can’t use any site that needs them (almost every website) and personal laptops are banned in the school. Even if I could bring my own computer, the internet is blocked. Also, many of my students still don’t have a login name and haven’t had one since last semester.
Yesterday, I did a presentation about myself in all of my classes and the students seemed to enjoy getting to know me, my AP Spanish classes especially. I showed them pictures of my family and told them all about the places I have traveled and why I decided to be a teacher. This also gave me the opportunity to share some of my scholarship knowledge with them. A lot of them seemed surprised that there were national scholarships available to them, and that it didn’t matter what college they go to. I talked a lot about the Gilman Scholarship and what is required of them during the application process. I also planted the Fulbright seed, and a lot of them got excited about having the opportunity to study abroad. I’m hoping to do something else with them so that they know how many opportunities for scholarships they have. Perhaps in my DL FACTS class I can have them make brochures for the FAFSA and the Gilman in English and Spanish. By doing this, they would be meeting one of the standards (the brochure program) and learning about something that will help them in the future.
Well that’s it for now! I enjoyed my first week of teaching and look forward to getting to know my students.