Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fighting Over Playground Space

In my last post, I wrote about a student who was not being fair to his best friend. Since talking with him, his best friend has told me that he has started to be more fair. I don't have anymore specific details beyond that. I do have another case that I want to talk about.

These two students were playing on a playground structure. One was standing on a triangular platform that raises as it spins counter clockwise or lowers as it spins clockwise on a vertical pole. The top of that pole is connected to another pole that is horizontal and arched above it. There is also another one of those arched poles about a foot behind that pole with the platform. One student is on the pole with the platform. Another student is hanging from the arched pole connected to the pole with the platform. The student hanging from the arched pole keeps gradually scaling from one side to the other. Eventually, the student is scaling her way into the student who is on the platform. The scaling student is flailing her legs and she's repeatedly hitting the student. The student on the platform is complaining. The scaling student rests her feet on the platform, which is only supposed to fit one child. So, the student who was originally standing on that platform stomps on her foot, jumps off the platform, and marches off.

I needed to talk to both of them since they both had pretty uncalled for behaviors. First, I talked to the scaling student. She was rolling her eyes at me and telling me that she doesn't care. So, I told her to step inside for 5 minutes and I'll talk to her when she is being more respectful. In that time, I decide to talk to the platform student instead.

Me: I saw what happened. (we recap the incident). Why'd you stomp on her foot?

PS: Because she kept hitting me and mocking me. And, I kept telling her that I was there first. She could've used the other pole. The other girl did.

Me: Did you tell her to?

PS: No.

Me: So, for the future, that's something that you could ask someone to do. You could say something like "I'm using this platform. Could you use the other pole please?"

PS: (nods)

Me: There's one other thing you could do. There were some bars that you could latch onto. You could temporarily hang on to those.

PS: But, I was there first.

Me: Ok well, you can do at least one of those things if this happens again, right?

PS: (nods)

Me: And, to be fair, scaling student could've asked you to move or use the other pole, but she didn't. Alright. Thanks PS.

Then, I talk to the scaling student.

Me: Alright. What happened with you and PS?

SS: I was moving on the bar and she wouldn't move.

Me: Did you ask her to?

SS: She didn't let the other girl go through.

Me: Did you ask her to move?

SS: No.

Me: Ok well, next time you should try that.

SS: (sulks) Ok....

Me: The other girl used the opposite pole. Couldn't you have done that to?

SS:  ...

Me: Couldn't you have?

SS: (sulks) Yea...

Me: Ok. So, if this ever happens again, what can you do?

SS: (mumbles) I can ask her to move or use the opposite bar. (sighs) Can I go now?

Me: Ok. Go ahead.

SS showed me a lot of attitude, but I thought I'd settle with the victory of at least knowing that she was listening to me when I was speaking to her.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Counselor Hat

There was a lot of drama at the school today. It was bizarre. I was thinking to myself, "What the hell is going on today?" Anyway, I'll tell you the first case. I have two other cases to talk about this one, but I'll save those for later.

Today, while I was monitoring the play structure on the upperyard, about four students from my class came to me and told me how one student is not treating his best friend fairly and hasn't been treating him fairly for a long time. We'll call one student K and the other student D. The four students from the class that I student teach in were claiming that D bosses K around all the time. They were claiming that D always tells K to do stuff for D. I was a little concerned about it, so I wanted to talk to K. I called K from the other side of the playground.

He comes running over:

K: Yea?

Me: So, I want to talk about you and D.

K: Yea... I know what you are going to say.

Me: Ok. What was I going to say?

K: You were gonna tell me how to D treats me like a dog.

Me: Well, I wasn't gonna say that. But, does D tell you to do things?

K: Yea.

Me: Do you always do what he tells you to do?

K: Yea.

Me: How long has this been going on for?

K: Since 1st grade (he's in 3rd grade now)

Me: Do you think that's fair?

K: No.

Me: What would happen if you stopped doing things for D?

K: He wouldn't be my friend anymore.

Me: Listen. I know that you and D are really good friends.

K: Yea... *starts to cry*

Me: But, if you had a friend who always made you do everything, would you stay friends with him?

K: No.

Me: Now, do you think your friendship would be better with him if you were treated equally or unequally?

K: Equally.

Me: So, I think what would be fair is that instead of you doing everything, he does things for you as much as you do things for him. Does that make sense?

K: Yea.

Me: Do you want me to talk to D about this?

K: Yea.

Me: Ok. Thanks for talking to me about this K. (Pat him on the back to be on his way)

* 10 minutes later *

D approaches me.

D: Hey. So, K told me what you guys talked about.

Me: What'd we talk about?

D: How K always does things for me. He told me how I should start doing things for him too.

Me: What do you think about that?

D: I agree.

Me: Why haven't you guys done that before?

D: He never told me.

Me: Ok cool.Well, I'm glad you guys agreed on that.

D: Alright well, I'll see you tomorrow, Mr. Auto.

Me: Alright. See you tomorrow.

Yup.... I think I did a good job today. :-)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Job Fair Navigation Tips

On Saturday, I went to a job fair in San Jose. During and after that job fair, I came up with a lot of ideas about how that job fair could've been a lot smoother.

Tip #1: Have All Application Materials Ready

- It sounds basic. I thought I had met that criteria. I had enough resumes, but I didn't have any letters of introduction and enough letters of recommendation. I ended up arriving to the job fair late because I spent time on pumping out a letter of introduction and waiting for FedEx to open at 10 am so that I could make enough copies. I made about 15 copies of every component of my application. That was enough for me. These were the components and in this exact order from the top of the pile to bottom: Letter of introduction, resume, three letters of recommendation, and letter of appeasement (a university's acknowledgement that in 3 to 4 weeks, you will receive your teacher's credential).

Tip #2: Have Packets Ready

- I didn't explicitly state this in tip #1, but its not enough to simply have 15 copies of each distinct document printed. Each copy of each document should be grouped together into a packet such that you have 15 application packets to hand out. I made the mistake of not doing this in advance. So, I had to stop at various tables to compile my packets from the copies of my application materials. That's a waste of time. That's something you can do at home. Also, when you are giving a prospective employer your application packet, it looks good for you to be able to hand it out right away rather than saying, "I'll be right back. I still need to put it all together." 

Tip #3: Take Note of Attending Employers

- The picture below "Employing Districts" is an example of a document which shows you which employers are attending the job fair. For my case, there were more districts in the San Jose room than the Cafeteria. So, it made more sense to me to go to the San Jose room first. I may not have made that judgment accurately if I did not first look at the "Employing Districts" and which rooms they would be located in. Also, I only want to teach in elementary school. So, if you don't take note of which districts are specifically hiring elementary teachers, then it is anyone's guess which line you should be standing in. Trust me. You don't want to stand in a line just based on a guess. You could be waiting for a long time for a teacher position that is irrelevant to you.

Tip #4: Look for the Reps with the Clipboards

- My recommendation to you is to avoid employer representatives that are holding nothing or just handing out flyers. These people are just advertising for you to apply to their school or district. However, why do you think some reps have clipboards and pens? In my experience, it's because they will ask you questions and they will take note of your answers. That is an interview. If they weren't going to review your answers after the job fair, they wouldn't take notes on their clipboard. They will consider some of the interviewees who they take notes about.

Tip #5: Helping Others Helps Yourself

- I like to help people. Sometimes, it may be to my detriment to do so, but I don't necessarily think that this job fair is one of those times. I'm friendly. For example, while I was in line, I conversed with someone in front of me. While I did so, I told them that a line that I just came from didn't have very many people in it. As a result of that, the person I told that to left the line I was in. So, that made the line shorter for me. However, there are obvious ways that this can be abused (i.e. by lying).

Tip #6 Drop Off Your Resumes

- Don't have enough time to wait in line for every table that you wanted to? Ok. Then, don't. Simply bring your application packet to every table that you wanted to wait in line for and drop it off. At least, it is still possible that whoever you drop off your application packet to will consider you. Otherwise, that is not possible.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Santa Clara County of Education Job Fair Pics

Here are some pics of the job fair that I attended in San Jose. I have a few posts that I want to make based on this job fair. But, I'll submit my next post on this job fair in a day or two. In the meantime, the pics are below. I believe that they can be clicked on and enlarged.

 Driveway Entrance

 Registrant Entrance

 Employing Districts


North Building Layout

District Layout in San Jose Room

San Jose Room Entrance

San Jose Room (Around noon to 12:30 pm)

 San Jose Room (around 1 to 1:30 pm)


South Building Layout

District Layout in Cafeteria Area

  South Building Entrance

South Building (around 1 to 1:30 pm)


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Truthful vs. Practical Approach to Student Conflict

PE just finishes. All the students are getting in line. One female student complains that one of her male classmates had jumped on her back. A male classmate runs back and he's way behind the end of the line. His jacket is zipped up and he's got his mouth tucked under the top of it. His mouth keeps inflating and deflating like a blow fish. He's coughing a bit and a little teary eyed. The PE teacher notices, so he starts talking to him.

The PE teacher finds out that this emotional student is upset because he believes that someone cut in front of him in line. We don't know whether that is true, but it might not even matter. So, the PE teacher asks him whether it really matters where he is in line? He also asks whether this is being made into a big deal. The emotional student immediately responds by saying the student who was alleged to have cut in front of him was making it a big deal. Really though, it was clear that this emotional student just wanted his spot in line back.

So, on our way back, he talks to another teacher who knows this emotional student well. This emotional student is still pretty upset about it. He starts talking to this teacher about what he's upset about. This teacher takes another approach. He says that she was pretty mean to take his spot, that he agrees that it isn't fair that he lost his spot in line, but that he shouldn't let mean people ruin his day.

Those are two approaches taken towards this emotional student. I call the approach of the PE teacher the honest approach because it's true that it doesn't really matter where the emotional student is in line. He's going to the exact same spot. There's no prize for being first in class and no one is even given claim to be a victor for being first in class. So, I agree that this issue really needs to be played down.

At the same time though, the second approach, which I call the practical approach was much more effective in calming this student down. I speculate that it calmed him down because the emotional is getting someone he takes to be an authority to validate his feelings. It makes him feel justified for his felt injustice. At the same time though, I just speculate about the long term consequences.

In the future, there won't always be someone to validate his feelings. So, to always validate his feelings aids in sustaining this immature mindset of getting upset whenever pointless things don't go his way. What if his feelings are not validated? He may remain upset for longer. But, as upsetting situations happen often enough, he will get more used to these experiences. Further, they would gradually seem to matter less and less. As life moves on, he will gradually come to realize that there are much more significant things in life than a mere spot in line.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Behavior Management: 60 Second Student Removal

A few days ago, I submitted a post on "logical consequences." I talked about how detention is not always the best consequence for students who are not behaving appropriately. I emphasized how the consequence that follows must be immediate. So, in this post, I want to offer my idea on an immediate consequence.

I have a student who constantly blurts out. He constantly talks while not raising his hand. He will wants to give answers, but he just blurts it out. I tell him once that if he talks without raising his hand, he needs to step outside, count to 60, and then quietly come back in. I only give him 1 warning. After that single warning, he is sent outside. If he comes back in noisy like he's trying to get attention, then I will send him back out to count to 60 again.

It seems to have some effectiveness so far, but I'm not completely satisfied with it. I'm not completely satisfied with it because it has not completely eliminated the blurt outs. I'm satisfied with it to some extent because #1 it has reduced its frequency and #2 it is an immediate consequence. As I said before in my "logical consequences" post, they don't have to wait 30 or how ever many minutes until losing time from recess. It's a consequence that can happen right away. Also, I just make a sign where I have a thumbs up, but I quickly point my thumb to the door. When I do that, he knows that I want him to step outside, count to 60, and then come back in quietly.

Something else that I need to think about further is whether the intensity of the consequence needs to escalate. Will sending that student out enough times lose its effectiveness? Will the student at some point not feel any loss in the consequence. So far, that is not the case. He makes it obvious that he dislikes it. If I need to escalate the intensity later though, how would I retain the immediacy of the consequence that I desire? Or, do I just need to become better at catching him engaging in inappropriate behavior, and thus make it more and more cumbersome for him to misbehave? Right now, I'm not sure. I'm putting faith in a positive answer to that last question.

In any case, if you decide to use my idea, let me know how effective or ineffective you think it is and whether the idea should be modified at all.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

LA Academia Moderna Job Fair

A couple days ago, I took the Greyhound to a job fair in LA. I left Oakland at 10:30 pm. I arrived at 5:30 am. The job fair was to start at Academia Moderna in LA at 9 am. I was displeased with the job fair for many reasons

#1 They charged $1 for their 3 page catalog of the 25 charter schools attending. $1 for the catalog? I expected that to come for free. You want your candidates to go to the right tables, right? Well, you deter more of the right candidates from arriving at your table by charging that $1. Believe it or not, some people didn't buy that catalog. I bought one of them because I didn't want to waste time going to tables that were of no interest to me.

#2 90% of the tables I went to (I went to 10 tables out of 25) only gave out email addresses and websites. That is, one of those 10 gave an application to fill out. NONE of those tables did on the spot interviews. On the spot interviews were exactly why I came to this job fair in the first place. That's what I expected.

Here's a way to save both the employers and prospective candidates some time, money, and effort. Every charter school submits all of their email addresses, applications, and websites to a centralized location (i.e. like EdJoin). Then, all interested candidates will apply. If all employers are going to do is hand out email address and websites, it seems pointless for them to be apart of a job fair.

#3 I never really came to the job fair for this reason, but it definitely lost Academia Moderna some credibility for it. So, word was that the principal was going to show up. First, it was relayed that he would show up to give interviews at 10 am. It was relayed again that he would show up at 10:30 am. It's 11:30 and still no principal shows up. It seriously came to a point where some prospective candidates looked up a pic of him online and were asking, "Have you seen this man?"

Anyway, my next job fair is on March 24th. It seems more promising since it was stated that there will be on the spot interviews. I have that to look forward to. I posted some pics from the job fair in LA below:

Cover  Page of Catalog

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

"Academia Moderna"


Left Side of Room (First ten tables)

Right Side of Room (First 10 tables)


 Back Wall (First Half of Tables 13 -23)

Back Wall (Second Half of Tables 13 - 23)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Logical Consequences

Before I begin, I want to apologize for not maintaining my regular frequency lately. I'm nearing the end of my program, so I've been focusing on the last couple major assignments that I have left. I will be finished with my credential program by April 6th. 

As you might know, my blog is about what I am learning as I student teach. I write about what I learn during my student teaching to the extent that I think it is helpful for anyone who is currently a teacher or wanting to become a teacher. From time to time, I won't just write about what I learn from my experiences in student teaching. I will also write about books that I'm reading because I also read books to inform my teaching. I will begin my first book related blog post right now.

Right now, I'm reading an eBook called "Setting Limits in the Classroom" by Robert Mackenzie. I just pull out my smartphone, read it, and take notes on my pocket notepad whenever I have some down time. Recently, I came across the idea of "logical consequences." Logical consequences are a type of reaction that is elicited from a teacher for a student displaying inappropriate behavior. The purpose of a logical consequence is to eventually negate inappropriate behaviors. And thus, it would promote that a student displays the right behavior.

In the first appendix of the book, Robert lists some behaviors and some logical consequences associated with them. For example, the first one is that a student either runs in, shoves other students, is loud, or whatever else. So, the logical consequence would be that the student would be sent back outside. Then, that student would need to reenter without displaying any of those behaviors. Proceeding in that way emphasizes to a student that they cannot be a threat to others' well-being or learning. Of course, it must also be communicated why they are being sent back outside.

There are a few other reactions which would not be conducive to learning appropriate behavior. The reaction that is most obviously unhelpful would be merely ignoring the behavior. That would be an unhelpful reaction because that is basically condoning the behavior. It allows the student to assume that such behavior is permissible.

In my view, students should generally be given a maximum of 1 warning of what kind of behavior is expected of them. Afterward, the logical consequence should be triggered. Otherwise, you implicitly convey that students can have multiple chances before they are called out and given consequences for their behavior.

Finally, I don't think it is very helpful to respond to behavior like running, being loud, and shoving while entering class by giving a detention. Perhaps sometimes, giving a student a detention is appropriate, but definitely not always. The first thing wrong with a detention is that it is delayed. It is not an immediate consequence. It would occur at recess which could be an hour away. So, it would be more difficult for the student to tie detention to the inappropriate behavior than a logical consequence that is an immediate reaction to that inappropriate behavior. Secondly, giving a detention would be most effective at conveying that if a student does not enter the classroom appropriately, they will lose recess time. That is certainly an incentive to not display the inappropriate behavior, but it is not quite so effective at communicating how a student should enter the classroom. Nothing is more effective at communicating how a student ought to enter the classroom than having that student properly reenter the classroom right away.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Two Stages of Instruction: Definition & Application

This is not a good way to start a blog, but give me credit for being honest. I do not yet consider myself an expect in teaching, but I believe that I have a framework to organize instruction into. This is something that I realized yesterday. Also, it's possible that I am about to say something that someone else has said before. But hopefully, this information will still be of some use to you. I would organize instruction into two stages: Definition and application. If your instruction successfully addresses both of those components, then I expect that your instructional component will be complete.

Notice that I don't say that your lesson will be successful. It would only be successful if in that lesson, you had every or most students undivided focus 100% of the time. Whereas, if your instruction lacked either "definition" or "application, but you had their undivided focus 100% of the time, your lesson would be both incomplete and for that reason, definitely unsuccessful. Right now, the "definition" and "application" on their own don't really mean anything. So, I need to elaborate on what I mean by each term. I'll illustrate what I mean by giving you a lesson that I taught recently.

A couple days ago, I taught a math lesson. It was about units of measurement (i.e. inches, feet, yards, and miles). The rest of the class and I had a ruler. I asked a student where an inch was on their ruler. Then, I pointed that out on my ruler under the docucam. If I were to have gone further (which I should have), I would have had everyone hold up their ruler, put their thumb on the beginning of the ruler, and their index finger on the first inch number. I asked a student what a foot is. He answers 12 inches. I have everyone hold up their ruler and make explicit, that a foot is as long as that ruler. For yard, I get three rulers and put them next to each other in my hands because 36 inches is equivalent to a yard. Mr. Agajan chimes in and shows them a yard stick (... yea... that makes more sense than what I did). Finally, I explain that 1760 yards is equivalent to 1 mile. That basically concludes the definition part of the lesson.

The reason why I call the previous paragraph the definition component of the lesson is because each of the units of measurement were concretely introduced. Every student has been told and physically shown what an individual unit of each type refers to. So, now they need to apply what has been defined. If they know what the terms mean, then they ought to be able to apply them in different scenarios. Otherwise, I would be dubious that they really fully know what the terms mean.

There are 6 groups of 3 or 4 students each. For this lesson, they work in groups by measuring the same object individually and coming to a consensus. For inches, every member of every group measures the exact same book. For feet, every member of every group measures their desk (each desk is the same length). For yards, Mr. Agajan selects 5 students. Those students each help measure the whiteboard with yard sticks. And, that's how they apply the terms that they learned about. Those students who were able to apply what they learned have shown that they truly do have a sufficient understanding of what the terms mean. And, that is what I call an example of a lesson which is complete as far as instruction is concerned.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Connecting Instruction with Students' Outside Games

During the week of my crisis, I learned an easy way to get students interested in my lessons. Use examples of games they play outside to illustrate the meaning of key terms. I did that twice for 3rd grade and once for 2nd grade. In all three times it was pretty effective.

For both of the 3rd grade classes, I was trying to highlight what a jury is. So, first, I asked the class how many of them play two square. 80% of the class rose their hand. Then, I gave them a scenario: "Two students are playing. One knows the rules of two square, but the other does not know them very well. The student in square A hits the ball. It bounces once in square A and the student in square B hits it back after it bounces twice in his own square. Raise your hand if you think the student in B is out. (90% of the students raise their hands) What could the student in A do if the student in B didn't agree with the student in A? (A student answers that he would get other students to tell him the rules) Why do you think it would help?" The only reason why they're interested is because the example is relatable. They play two square everyday.

For 2nd grade, we read a biography about Dona Felisa Rincon de Gautier, a historical female figure. In the story, it said that the citizens admired how hard she worked. "Admire" was a vocab word for that story. So again, I ask "who has played two square?" Again, about 70 to 80% of the hands raise. What would it mean if you admired someone's skateboard (i.e. the name of a type of returning hit in two square). So, students respond with the following answers: "I would want to know how he hits it," "I would think he is good at it," "I would want to copy him and hit like him." After they make those connections, I connect their understanding to what the citizens might think of Mayor Rincon de Gautier.

In summary, playing games outside with students will give you ammunition of ways to relate instructional content to them. That is, not only will the instructional content be less foreign to them, but they will also be interested in talking about it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Test Recording Devices Frequently

I had a bit of a crisis this week. My 4th and last CalTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment) is due on Monday, March 12th. I was required to answer 15 pages worth of questions. All of those questions were supposed to be based on a lesson that I would teach. The first time I recorded, I used the integrated camera of my laptop. I've recorded many 2 min videos with it before. I recorded a couple videos longer than 40 min. The video I recorded in class was about 40 minutes. The first 10 minutes had audio, but the last 30 min did not have audio. Unfortunately, I didn't test to see that my recording software could successfully record videos longer than even 20 minutes. I assumed it would work since it gave me the option to record videos 60 min in length. My first recording was useless because my CalTPA required I submit a 20 min video (with audio).

Then, I use my Flip camera to record myself teach the same lesson to a different class since I couldn't teach the same lesson to the same class. The lesson was great and I had tested my camera before. I thought I knew how to save a file on my Flip camera. I closed my Flip camera expecting it to save automatically. I plugged it into a computer at school and the file I recorded was reading at 0 KB. In other words, the file was corrupted.

Today, I recorded my last lesson. Before doing so, I tested it like 3 or 4 times. After doing so, I realized that instead of pressing record and then just shutting the camera, I had to hit record, hit OK when I'm finished, press mode to double check that the file is on my camera, then I can close the camera. And, voila... I finally have a video file with working audio to submit for my fourth CalTPA.

That happened within the course of 3 or 4 days. I'm so glad that its over. Getting that video makes the difference between me getting and not getting my credential. What's the lesson here? #1 Test out your recording device for the exact length of time that you will need to use it for. Pick random intervals throughout the video to verify that the video and audio remains intact. #2 Test how to use it 3 or 4 times without error before establishing self-confidence in your ability to use it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A "Teachable Moment"

On Monday, I taught a Social Studies lesson. The topic of the lesson was "Roles of Citizens." The key terms were election, ballot, jury, laws, and taxes. A lot of the students had a hard time understanding what taxes are for. I tried to pummel them with examples: Roads, schools, postal service, waste management, libraries, and so on. One of the students had a genuine disagreement. This is what he said "Mr. Auto... I heard that the government doesn't need taxes, they just want them."

That response caught me off guard. Also, I was running short on time. Mainly because I was running short on time and secondly, because I wasn't sure of how to reply to him without offending him. My reply would've offended him because my reply would have been in opposition to what he said.

My mentor, Mr. Agajan was calling it a teachable moment because there was genuine interest and curiosity from the class (even though there was a mix of agreement and disagreement). Even one of the students was telling me that I should have used the instance as an opportunity to learn about taxes. I would add that it is an issue with much contention and that kind of generates the class desire to learn. Also, another reason why Mr. Agajan considered that instance a teachable moment is because moments like those when students have genuine interest and disagreement are difficult to replicate.

Looking back, if I was to reply to that student, I think this is what I would've said: "You're definitely welcome to that opinion. Does the government use tax payer money exactly how they want it to be used. Probably not always. Do they sometimes use it the way tax payers want it to be used. Probably. At the same time though, no one in this room works in government, so its really difficult for anyone here to know for sure exactly everything that the government uses my and your parents taxes for. However, do we have roads? Schools? Libraries? Waste management? Police? Fire Fighters? (The reply would be yes) Now, think about this. None of those service providers make profits. They are not businesses. If those services don't make profits, where do they get all the money to do those things? Think about that and come back to me with an answer tomorrow morning."

That's how I would've responded. Is there anything wrong with that? It sounds valid and unoffensive to me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Does Getting a Master's in Teaching Matter?

So, my credential program is coming to an end. My last day is on April 14th of 2012. CalStateTeach has an interesting feature in their program. After you complete CalStateTeach, you can enroll in an online master's in teaching program that will take a mere single additional semester beyond the acquisition of your credential. That makes it very tempting to me.

But, there are two related reasons for why I don't want to pursue any master's in teaching right now: #1 By the time I would start the master's program, I would (hopefully) have a teaching job. So then, I would need to balance my first year of teaching along with completing that master's program. #2 When I'm in a master's program, I will need to read what they want me to read. I will need to do what they want me to do. I'm pretty confident that the program would be very educational. However, I'm highly doubtful that they would give me the information that I need exactly WHEN I need it. When I will need this or that information will depend on the specific circumstances of my classroom. Whatever unforeseeable and undesirable circumstances may be, I want to spend my time looking up how to alleviate them rather than completing the busy work of my master's program.

At the same time, I worry about me not having a master's greatly ruining my chances of getting a teaching job. So, I asked several individuals in the field of education whether me not enrolling in a master's program would deter me from entering the field any quicker. I asked my supervisor, a special ed teacher I worked with in one of my previous schools, my current mentor teacher, the principal and vice principal of the school.

So far, only my supervisor has said that I would be ruining my chances of becoming a teacher by not pursuing a master's degree in teaching. The special ed teacher said that he knows several multiple subject teachers who teach well, but don't have master's degrees. My mentor teacher says that many districts prefer that teacher's don't have master's degrees in teaching. Especially for schools that are trying to cut down costs, they would prefer a teacher without a master's degree (I have heard this same sentiment on yahoo answers). You must pay a teacher with a master's degree more. Both the principal and vice principal of the school that I currently student teach at stated that in the end, they need to see that a teacher teaches well (which includes knowing how to manage a class), have good references and recommendations.

Because most people that I've asked had either a pessimistic or neutral view about the prospects of pursuing a master's in teaching, for now, I will not pursue it.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Student Recognition of Vocabulary in Literature

This is a method that my mentor, Mr. Agajan uses to track which students are paying attention to key vocabulary in an assigned text that will be read out loud. First, before any reading is begun, the key vocabulary is introduced. There will be like five or six words. Let's say that one of the words is 'vanish.' Whether the book is read out loud to them via an audio CD in a boom box or another student reading the text, every time they hear 'vanish,' they will quickly raise their hand and drop it.

Another option is that instead of raising and dropping one's hand, they snap their fingers. I would recommend against having students snap their fingers. Some students cannot control themselves. It appears that those students get too much joy out of simply hearing themselves snap their fingers. It becomes a distraction insofar as those students will snap their fingers multiple times or not always snap their fingers when they are supposed to.

In this case, the point of raising one's hand or snapping one's fingers seems to merely show that students identify a key vocabulary word in the text. As such, the meaning of these vocabulary words should be discussed prior to doing the reading. Otherwise, those words will be literally meaningless to more students than they should be.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Distributing Students of Varied Grades in a Game

Yesterday, I set up a game of capture the flag. The teams were arranged twice. Both times, someone was complaining that the game was unfair because team A had more older kids and team B had more younger kids. I was getting annoyed with their complaining. So, I completely took over as far as organizing teams went. Both sides lost their option to choose their own teams.

I walked to one location and said "all the kindergartners line up here." I walked about three steps to the right and said "all the first graders line up here." I did that all the way until third grade. There were about three kindergartners, two first graders, ten second graders, and one third grader. I started from the kindergartners. I sent one to team A, one to team B, and I alternated between team A and B in assigning students to teams. After I did that, both teams complained a lot less. I took that to be a measure of my success.

It seems pretty straight forward, but I hadn't thought about it at the time. Anyway, in case you ever find yourself organizing a game among students who are in different grades, this is a simple way to make the game as close to fair as possible (or as close as I can think of anyway).