Today was my first day at Tree Elementary School, as an actual student teacher! It actually went pretty well, except for the fact that I have a wicked sinus infection today. I tried all weekend to rest and drink orange juice and take Emergen-C, but I didn't recover in time for my first day! Nothing like making a first impression with a stuffy nose, sore throat, and giant headache!
I thought I'd start out by formally introducing the children to you. I don't think I ever really did that with the preschool kids... you met Ani, for sure, and maybe Robin and Wren and Pewee and Phoebe and some others towards the end. But today I'll let you meet all eight of the kids I know!
First off there is Finch. The weirdest thing here is that Finch is the older brother of Robin, the preschooler who was always telling me he liked me so much and that I could borrow his Wii! I knew Robin had an older brother named Finch, but I had no idea how old Finch was or that he had special needs. When I saw Finch's last name on his desk name tag, I asked, "Are you Robin's brother?" Finch barely looked up as he said yes. The only thing that caught his attention was when I told him, "Robin says you're great at Wii! He wants to be just like you!" That turned on a spigot of information about all the different video game systems and corresponding games Finch owns. It turns out he's a fifth grader with Aspergers, who is very smart and fully mainstreamed. Aside from being Robin's brother, I don't know much about Finch because he is mainstreamed and is out of the classroom all day.
Weaver, like Finch, is a fifth grader with Aspergers who is fully mainstreamed. I don't know him that well either, since I only saw him today for about ten minutes.
Martin is a fifth grader who is very sweet and who came up to me and said, "Hi, welcome, Miss Read!" (He might have been reading that off the chalk board, but still, it was nice.) He loves to check the lunch calendar to find out what he'll be eating for lunch at any given day in the next thirty days. He also likes to keep track of what everyone is doing and who is absent!
Jay is a fourth grader who is very quiet. The only thing I know about him so far is that he has to stay away from magnets, microwaves, metal detectors, and that sort of thing, because of his pace maker. Also, he likes outer space!
Oriole is a fifth grader who is more "high functioning" than most of the other kids. For instance at calendar time today he was able to run calendar, and talked to the other kids as if he were a teacher and they were the students!
I have not met Towhee and Triller yet because they are sick. I'll meet them next week, most likely!
Kite, like Oriole, is a fifth grader who is more "high functioning" than the others. She can read and write, speaks clearly, makes jokes, and sort of bosses around the other kids in a big sisterly way. I probably won't get to know Kite that well because it turns out she is moving away in a week!
Rosella is a sweet girl who recently got hearing aids and now has to relearn the sounds of all the letters. She is funny and friendly, although she doesn't talk much! An odd thing I realized about Rosella is that although she can read a little, she is almost completely a sight reader. For instance she has a key ring of flash cards of words she has learned. She will see the word "eight" and read it as "four," not because these two words have any letters in common, but because she knows that "eight" is a number and she can't remember which one. Or she will see the word "grass" and read it as "tree." I'm not sure that even counts as reading!
Finally, Starling is a fifth grade girl who is the "lowest functioning" in the class. She talks nonstop, although it is very hard to understand what she is saying. She cannot read, write, or count, and she is still learning to go to the bathroom without accidents. She is very friendly, and loves school work. She demands all day long to be tested! When I first saw her wearing a puffy, swirly, gauzy black skirt with white hearts printed on it, a hoodie with all different colored hearts all over it, sneakers with tie-dyed laces, and a mess of auburn hair, I couldn't help loving her!
I think the most challenging thing about student teaching there will be doing all the lesson plans my university requires me to do, when actually the kids mostly do their learning from very scripted programs that already have the lesson plans for each day included. I'm actually going to have to take the scripted lesson plans, and rewrite them into the format my university requires our lesson plans to be in! Awkward.
The thing I am most looking forward to is the one week unit I have to plan. This is the one area in which I will really be able to use my creativity and have some fun! However, I am not sure what kind of unit to do. Can anyone help me think of something! This would have to be a one week unit in which they would do about half an hour of learning each day for five days. It would have to be something that would be interesting and relevant to all of the kids, from Starling and Rosella who are learning on a preschool level, to Oriole and Kite who are learning almost at their regular fifth grade level. I thought of doing something seasonal, like a St. Patrick's Day unit, but I think the actual teacher may already have that one covered! Does anyone have any ideas? I'd love to hear!
Alright, everyone! I need to go take some cold medicine and go to bed.