Wow, what an amazing first day! I bet tomorrow will be even better because I’ll be less nervous. How nice to see all of the bright/shiny faces of the students as they entered the school on their first day. The parents and teachers worked together in order to ease the children back into the school routine. Today Grant D. Morse Elementary had a 1/2 day so I left at 12 to visit my second placement in Saugerties High School. I met with my second host teacher, Mr. Melville, for the second time and learned more about the high school and the curriculum I will be teaching when I get there. I am so relieved that both of my host teachers are so nice and helpful. I also went to the first Junior Varsity Volleyball game today. I will be assistant coaching this team along with Missy Greco. I chose to coach volleyball because I don't know very much about it and figured it would be a great idea to educate myself more about this sport and make myself more diverse rather than coaching something that I already knew how to. Thankfully Missy thought this was a great idea (being a PE teacher herself) and is being very helpful to me. The first day of practice is tomorrow and I am very excited to get to know the team better. I am so glad my first day went so well. I can't wait until tomorrow !!!
After being at Grant D. Morse for only one day I had students in the hallway saying "HI MISS SHARKEY!!!" It made me feel good to know that the students liked me enough to remember who I was after just one class of rules and introductions. As for my second day, I also learned a LOT more names while we played "Free Willy” which is a favorite game of the K-5 classes. I can't see myself using it as a full lesson when I have my own class. But it is a great warm-up game or closing activity if I ever have extra time. I am also getting to know the teachers a lot better too. The principal even asked me to help him with a crying student in the hall today at dismissal. I am glad that he was comfortable enough to trust me with an issue like this instead of asking another teacher whom he already knew. I jumped at the opportunity and although it took a few minutes, the student did calm down and my task was accomplished. I've never realized how different it is when you go from a kindergarten class to teaching 5th grade within just a few minutes. I thought that I would enjoy the younger children more but I love the sense of humor that the older students have (I was a bit shocked since its only the 1st week of school), but they are a lot of fun. I guess we'll see as the semester goes on. I was a bit disappointed today because there are no after school activities. I was excited to get to know the girls on the volleyball team better, but there's always the next practice. All in all, it was another good day :)
NO SCHOOL DUE TO FLOODING.
I can't believe it's Friday already. Time really does fly when you're having fun. Yesterday as I sat home due to the flooding, I realized that I would have rather been at the school than at home. I can't believe that someday I will be getting paid to have fun all day with my students. Speaking of the students... I can't believe how quickly I am learning their names. Today I realized what an excellent relationship my host teacher has with the students. Physical education is great because you have year after year with the same students. It's not like a normal classroom which you have a teacher for one year and then never have then again. In physical education you not only get to see your students grow throughout the year. You get to see them advance through a larger and critical portion of their lives. Kindergarten through sixth grade may be the most important time in a child's life because it makes them who they are. I am so grateful that I will have such a large impact on so many students’ lives. One of my largest goals is to be an inspiring role model for my students.
Today my supervisor, Ken Brooker, came to visit. I'm not sure if it's because they know they have the best careers in the world, but all physical education people are so pleasant. The more I talk with teachers, supervisors, directors, etc. I realize that I chose the right path.
Creativity plays a huge role in phys ed. Today we used a bag full of tennis balls to keep the class busy for the entire period. Kicking the balls everywhere during a game called "frantic" was a great warm up. Then we had the students hold the tennis balls as if they were food and the students were puppies. If they were tagged they had to drop their food and start gathering all over again. This way there is no elimination. Then in order to clean up we had them all put their "food" into the dumpster aka back in the bag and go gather more until they were tagged or all the food was gone. At the end of class when we had a few minutes left we played "Everybody's it". You tag people until everyone’s frozen except two people. Everyone is running and active. The game only lasts a few seconds so it’s quick and fun for everybody! I can use these games anytime, anywhere, anyhow!
Today we only had half of the gymnasium due to the primary election voting. I can see how this can throw the students off a bit because it’s slightly different and we have to adjust to our classroom environment. As we modified the court for capture the flag we explained it to the students and they followed along accordingly. I can also see how some students are affected by slight changes and it can drastically change their moods. A simple and fun way to get all of the students on track is to joke with them. After the students were finished learning the rules and were instructed to stand up, my host teacher said "stand up, no sit down.... okay, stand up... NO WAIT, sit down..." All of the students laughed as they stood up and sat down repeatedly. Another way to lighten the mood occurs before a game. Instead of saying 1, 2, 3, go... you can say 1, 2, 3, spaghetti (or any other random word). That never gets old and everyone enjoys it :)
My host teacher was absent today because it was her daughters first day of Kindergarten (How exciting for her!). Today was also exciting for me. There was a substitute teacher but she let me take over the class. I was the “main teacher” in the room for the first time and I loved it. It’s very nice to have authority. I realize now that the students do look at me as a teacher and not a student/teacher. They were all very excited when they found out I was teaching the games that Mrs. Constable had left in the lesson plans. Every class went extremely smooth. The 5th grade class actually tried to help me too much. I usually wait for the class to be completely silent before I will talk. One student was whispering so I was waiting and the rest of the class “shuuuushed” the student and then began to “shush” each other’s “shushing”, which wound up being more disruptive than if I would have just begun talking in the first place. Next time I wont be so picky. Now I REALLY can’t wait to begin my soccer unit next week now that I got a taste of being “head teacher”.
Every other day we travel to Cahill Elementary at the end of the day for our last class. This class is 35 minutes long (just like the rest of our classes). About five minutes into class the fire alarm went off. This is Mrs. Constable’s first time teaching in Cahill also and we didn’t know the fire drill routine. I panicked for about ten seconds until I realized how calm Mrs. Constable was. She simply asked one of the students which door they usually go out and I followed her lead. I know that sometimes you don’t know everything and I figured that as a teacher you could go home and look it up and come back with the answer the next day. In this case, we couldn’t do that, but asking a student is also an option. I am sure that the student felt proud when they helped Mrs. Constable and Mrs. Constable got the job done very nicely. Another lesson learned!
Friday again?! My second week is over with already. This weekend there is a memorial baseball game for my stepbrother who passed away last year in an ATV accident. He was 15, a great student, and an amazing athlete. As well as myself, Michael also believed that physical fitness and being active were very important in life. His fellow teammates played the coaches who they grew up with throughout their lives. They called it the “young bucks” vs. the “old timers”. The young bucks won but the old timers put up good competition. This athletic memorial raised money for the Michael Alan White Scholarship at Catskill High School, which goes to an athlete with a high GPA and leadership qualities. This year the game also gave money to the victims of Hurricane Irene up the mountain by donating half of the 50/50 raffle money. The winner of the 50/50 raffle also gave their winnings back to the little league to help them raise money to fix their fields. I am proud to mention that the winner was a 16 year old and was/is Michael’s best friend. Events such as this remind me how important athletics are and how much they mean to some people. Our town will always remember Michael as a baseball star and certain people such as me will always think of Michael when they see a baseball. <3
My first day teaching the soccer unit went extremely well. Mrs. Constable gave me feedback after each lesson and it helped a lot. For 3rd through 6th grade I focused on kicking and passing today while stationary. Kindergarten through 2nd grade focused on pathways, which are used during soccer. I planned my lessons for the kindergarten through 2nd grade to use a lot of imagination and I was a bit nervous that they wouldn’t follow what I was trying to teach. I had no reason to be nervous because they LOVED it. My favorite part of class is seeing what great imaginations the children have. They come up with the most exciting and different ideas. I could see that the older grades were more advanced at kicking than I thought they would be. Next class I will incorporate more movement to get the students working harder. After my first lesson all of the students know that being tired, hot, and sweaty is a good thing!
The word of the day is modifications. Yesterday I modified my lessons each time Mrs. Constable gave me feedback. (She gives the best feedback after each lesson. She writes down everything so that she won’t forget and tells me why it was important). Yesterday’s lessons were the same as today. I introduced kicking to each class, but I got rid of the circle juggle that I used yesterday. It wasn’t working at all so I took it out and came up with a soccer/tag game as a new activity. Thankfully the tag game went MUCH better and my entire lesson was a success. It’s amazing how much a lesson can improve in just one day. One of my college professors told me that no matter how many times you teach a lesson, there is ALWAYS a way to improve it. I agree without a doubt!
One of the students in my 3rd grade class was previously diagnosed with brain tumors. He has been battling cancer his whole life. I’ve never seen such a young child have such a hard life. I also know from talking with Mrs. Constable that he doesn’t have the best home situation either. Just hearing about what he is going through brought tears to my eyes. He has a brother and sister who also attend Grant D. Morse Elementary. The school does a lot for the family, but some things can’t be changed. It breaks my heart to see the children of this family everyday, but it makes me happy that I can bring a smile to their faces with my games. I include my ill student as much as possible and modify/simplify my lessons extremely in order to have him involved. I can see just through observations that he knows he is different than other students and he seems very distant from other children his age. In order to make him feel the same as the rest of the class I modify the lesson for the entire class so that we are all doing the simplified version together. It’s still fun and everyone is still learning.
At the end of every day Mrs. Constable and I help with dismissal. When I was a child I always rode the bus home with my brother and my mother met us as the bus stop across the street. I still remember how nice it was to have her greet us every afternoon. We did homework together and then played until dinner. I had the perfect family life growing up. It never dawned on me that my peers didn’t have the same luxuries that I had. Now that I’m older I can see that barely any children have it easy. Sometimes school is the happiest and safest place for the students. While some students can’t wait to get home, others don’t want to go home. The hardest part is that you don’t know which students are which. It’s my job to make every class the best it can be. I want all of my students to enjoy themselves for the entire 35 minutes I have with them. You never know whose day you can make or who might just need a friendly smile.
Week three is over and I still can’t believe how fast it’s going. I’ve decided to do my work sample project at this placement so I have a lot to get going on. I am taking my ATSW and LAST teacher certification exams tomorrow. I am excited and nervous at the same time. Everyone I’ve talked to has told me that the questions are tricky and the essays are tough to write after taking 80 multiple-choice questions. Now I am nervous that I am taking two in one day. Plus, I have to work Saturday night after my tests. I’ve been working Saturdays while I am student teaching and its tough along with coaching JV volleyball and everything else. Even though I am extremely busy, I don’t mind it because I am enjoying myself so much. I learn something new everyday and I am getting one step closer each day to starting my career. I am feeling very successful lately!
Today was back to school night. It’s so much fun to meet the parents of the students and see where they get their personalities from. It’s also such a shock to see the different ways that the students act in front of their parents. Many of the kindergarten students spoke to me more in that one hour than they have spoken to me all year so far. It seems to me they were “showing off”. I found it quite entertaining. Mrs. Constable actually locks the gymnasium during back to school night and stands in the hall. She finds that more parents talk to her about their children and come up to say hello when she stands in the hall outside of the cafeteria. She told me that when the gymnasium is open most of the parents drop off their kids and go to the cafeteria by themselves to chat with other parents. To avoid this she keeps the doors locked and stands outside. She even modifies things outside of the classroom to improve them.
Today Mr. Brooker, my supervisor, came to do an observation of my teaching. He observed my 3rd grade class. This class worked on spatial awareness and is adapted to fit the needs of an ill student. At the end of class Mr. Brooker told me that my adaptations were great. He also said that I am very personable with the students. I handle situations well and communicate well with everyone. That is one thing that always bothered me as a student myself. Growing up, my parents always explained to me why things had to be the way they were. If a student is being told to do something or change something they are doing I always make sure to explain to them why they need to change what they are doing. I stress safety, respect, and making good decisions.
Today was picture day, which means there is only half of the gymnasium for physical education classes. Due to the fact that today there are two teachers and two PE classes at once, we had barely any room at all. We would have gone outside but it was also raining. Two classes in half of the gymnasium can be dangerous at times. We were also teaching a different unit than the other teacher, Mr. Bonfiglio, so we decided to keep it safe and play knockout. This is a “quick fix” for having a lack of space. Although it’s not the best game to play in physical education because of the students standing in line, the lines do go fast and everyone enjoys it. My biggest concern was the students not being active enough for the 35 minutes of class. When the students were lining up I saw the sweat dripping from their faces and realized that if they had fun and were getting a workout that was still a success.
OSCAR THE GROUCH. What a great idea for getting first graders to throw. When we go to Cahill Elementary at the end of the day Mr. Below always has some sort of theme for the day. Today he decided on Sesame Street. He used three of the safety mats as a garbage can my putting them onto their sides and wrapping them into a circle. He stood inside and had the students try to throw all of the “garbage” (balls/beanbags all over the gymnasium) back into the garbage can. As the students threw the garbage into the can, Mr. Below would throw the garbage back out. The students were throwing non-stop. They all LOVED it. When you add a theme to a lesson the students absolutely love it. They get to use their imaginations and bodies as tools for a fun time!
The past two weeks of my soccer unit have been a success. I can’t wait to write my lesson plans this weekend for next week. All of the skills and techniques that I have taught the students will be put together in order to play soccer games. This is the first time that I have taught and entire unit by myself and I already see progress. I am proud of myself for the progress I’ve also achieved as a teacher. I see that through trial and error you learn the most. This goes for me as well as my students. I think I am learning more than anyone just by being present in the school system and seeing how things work through a non-student perspective. It’s amazing how different the school atmosphere seems when you’re the teacher and not the student.
Today was a great day until I got to practice. I found out that one of the girls on the JV volleyball team got into a fistfight on school property. So many issues arose from this fight. The head varsity and JV coaches both thought that since it’s in the school rules, no fighting, that you’d automatically lose your privilege to play on a sports team. Due to the fact that there are no separate team rules, according to the athletic director, after her suspension, the student is able to return to the team. Both coaches were angry because they see each player as a representative of the volleyball program and they do not see her behavior as appropriate at all. The student will no longer hold a starting position on the team and will only play the last game out of three. When I am head coach of a sports team I will make sure to have a rules list and have each player understand and sign these rules in order to represent their school, team, and program. I do see sports as a privilege.
Today we played Onteora’s junior varsity volleyball team. We were a bit intimidated when they arrived because their players were so large. When I asked Coach Greco where their varsity team was she told me that they only had a JV team and that is why the girls were so much bigger. They were older than the average JV team. They didn’t have enough girls to have varsity and junior varsity. Supposedly some years they only have a JV team and other years they only have a varsity team. Our teams in Saugerties had to cut JV and varsity players because we had too many. It’s eye opening to see the slight differences between school districts and communities and how location can play such a role in a child’s life.
Today I received my first card from a student. She made it herself and gave it to me for no reason at all. She handed it to me at the beginning of class with a huge smile on her face. It was in a cute little envelope with a puppy on it. Inside she wrote “Dera Mrs. Sharkey. You are the best P.E. theche evre”, with a heart and three stars inside. It’s so cute! I was so surprised to get this card from her because she is so quiet I had no idea that she liked me so much. Mrs. Constable told me that one year she got a gift from a student and when he gave it to her he told her that she was his favorite teacher ever and he thought she was so nice and funny. She said she almost cried because she figured he hated her because he misbehaved a lot and she was always correcting his behavior. She couldn’t believe he felt that way about her and from then on she changed her outlook on all students.
One of the best inventions in a school has got to be the mobile wall in the gymnasium. Whoever thought of that must have been a genius. It creates opportunities every day in our school and many others all over the world. It is quick, easy, and safe. You can divide the gymnasium into two separate rooms or take the wall out and have an enormous room in just 2 minutes. At Morse, we only use the wall every other day when Mr. Bonfiglio also has classes and is staying indoors. We move the wall in and out at least 2 times each during the day. It’s great in gymnasiums; I wonder where else they’re used.
It’s Friday again and what an ending to the week. I had two kindergarten students get into a fistfight over a hula-hoop. Because of their bad behavior I brought them both to the principals office and had them explain to the principal what had happened. It was interesting for me to hear their version of the story after seeing what had really happened. When the “talk” was over they both understood that no matter what, we do not put our hands on each other. Normally I would have just talked to the students myself, but when we entered the hallway to sort out the problem, Mr. Dykeman, the principal was right there. I took the opportunity to have him present because I know that he intimidates them. They also know that he knows about their behavior so that even when I leave they know they won’t get away with any violence.
COLUMBUS DAY, No school
Today I realized how important instant activity games are. They are not only important for the beginning of a lesson. Using them at the end is also a great idea! You can motivate your students to do well during class by rewarding them at the end with their favorite quick game/activity. One activity that I saw being used at Beverly J. Martin Elementary while I was attending SUNY Cortland was called “Jake the Snake”. You used a soft ball attached to a rope and had all of the students form a circle around you. As you swing the ball around by the rope they have to jump over it. Each student is involved and has to move or else they get “bit” by Jake. You can modify the game by making the students perform different tasks such as jumping jacks, running, pushups, etc. All of the students were active and they all loved it! You can use any quick games just as “Jake the Snake” was used. My goal is to find a new game for each week when I have my own students. They can vote on which they like the best and work towards playing them quickly at the end of each class. J