Saturday, June 29, 2013

Franklin Elementary Boasts Well for PM Teacher Cadet Experience

Teacher Cadet Experience - Franklin Elementary

I had the pleasure to work with PM as my Teacher Cadet for the last trimester of the 2012-13 school year.  PM displayed motivation, innovation, a love for learning, and most importantly, a love for children.  There is no doubt in my mind that PM will become an inspirational teacher.   

As a teacher, I pride myself on getting to school promptly and getting the day started.  To my surprise, PM was waiting for me to arrive each and every day!  This will serve her well in the education field.  It is imperative in our profession to get the day started smoothly.  Not only was she prompt, but when I would arrive she was already setting up the room!  Furthermore, she was smiling and excited for the day!  

Creativeness is at the heart of the education profession.  Good teachers spend most of their time trying to come up with new and innovative ways to get students to learn the task at hand.  Not only did PM provide valuable lessons directly to my students, but she always had an interesting angle that I could use with my students on particular lessons.  

PM is a great listener.  Periodically, PM and I would sit down and discuss her student observations and also observations from my lessons.  Her note taking was spot on, and she always followed through with questions for her own learning.  Her drive for learning will no doubt serve her well in the years to come.   

What I appreciated most about PM is her love for children.  She was a natural with the students, and the students LOVED her!  Our field is always looking for bright innovative people, but if you don't love children, this isn't the field for you.  This will NOT be a problem for PM.  Her love for children is very innate.  

In short, my Teacher Cadet experience was tremendous!  As with any field, PM just needs more classroom experience to refine her skills.  I'm very thankful for the Cadet program - what a great way to promote/recruit young people such as PM!!

KA's Teacher Cadet Experience with Ms. Maybee

My cadet teacher was KA, a senior from Arapahoe High School in Littleton Public Schools. K worked in my fifth grade classroom Tuesday through Friday from 7:30-9:30 am.  Since my students did not arrive until 8:30am K had the opportunity to observe and be a part of daily preparation for a classroom. I believe this was a valuable experience for her to see what is involved in getting ready to teach a classroom of 27 fifth graders. During this time she helped grade, prepare for reading lessons, assist with playground supervision and attended our PLC and staff meetings.  After the students arrived, K had the opportunity to be a part of reading instruction.
 When K began in February the students were beginning a historical fiction book to coincide with our study of the Early European Colonies in social studies. I gave her a copy and she read along with the students so that she could guide book discussion once a week with a small group of students. I gave her guiding questions to help lead the discussion and she took it from there.  As the book wrapped up, I assisted K in planning a lesson that had the students compare and contrast two characters from the book using a Thinking Map and moving to writing a paragraph. K did an excellent job putting together the materials and lesson for the students.
March moved the class into the TCAP testing window, which brought a change to my instructional schedule so K had the opportunity to help with an Interact Simulation on Colonization of the New World. The students are very engaged in this simulation and provided K the opportunity to observe a more active instructional setting with kids working in small groups to tackle the challenges of colonists traveling across the ocean to the New World and establishing successful colonies. K was a great help guiding student through some of the group activities and troubleshooting with the students as conflict arose in the some of the small group tasks.  
K created a Power Point presentation on a lesson teaching the students how to recognize Primary and Secondary sources of information.  I provided some resources and she did an excellent job creating a lesson that incorporated a Google Template for the students to complete on their Triple E computers and shared with her through Google Docs.  The final weeks K helped some of my struggling students navigate through nonfiction reading strategies of their social studies and science textbooks. Having her presence in the classroom was a great help and the students had some much needed small group assistance at the end of the school year.
K is not sure that teaching is going to be her final career choice and if she does choose teaching it will be at the secondary level but I hope that by spending time in my fifth grade class she left with a better understanding of the teaching profession and can make an informed decision as she begins her college instruction in the fall. The students loved having her in our classroom and were quick to notice if she was not there. K was a great help and it was fun to watch her grow in her comfort level with working with a variety of students.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"The drive and enthusiasm to be a fantastic teacher" --Mentorship Experience at Mountain View Elementary

My cadet teacher was KR, a senior at Legacy High School in Broomfield.  K worked in my classroom for a few hours in the morning Monday through Thursday of each week from January 31 to April 26, 2013.  During that time, K was very active and assumed many responsibilities.  It should be noted that our fourth-grade teaching team “departmentalized” this year, and I was the math, science, and social studies teacher for two homerooms—55 students in all.  There was a wide range of ability levels, from gifted and talented to significantly below grade level, students on IEPs and literacy action plans (for below grade-level readers), ELL students, one autistic student, and one student with severe emotional and behavioral issues.  I did not teach reading and writing.

K jumped right in on the first day and helped students with their math.  She was able to build a solid rapport with the students very quickly.  During her time in our classroom, K did the following:  observed me teaching; taught a few math lessons herself (reading a pictograph and estimating products); added valuable comments during my teaching; co-taught lessons; circulated and helped the students with math, science, and social studies in both individual and small-group settings; helped me to set up science experiments; helped prepare students for TCAP; assisted me in proctoring TCAP; and attended a weekly 4th-grade team meeting.

I wanted K to see the students taking the TCAP test, but it didn’t make sense for her to spend two weeks of her time doing so.  And because I didn’t explicitly teach literacy this year, I knew she would benefit from seeing this, too.  I arranged for K to work in a second-grade colleague’s classroom for a few days.  K was able to observe this teacher’s reading groups, read with some students, helped to set up and manage students working in “centers,” and also did some quick assessments with students.  This second-grade teacher said that K worked wonderfully with her students, and K remarked that she enjoyed the experience, too.

Due to the nature of my classroom and the schedule, what K did most was to circulate and help my students with their math during the guided and independent practice phases of the lessons.  This was invaluable, as it allowed twice as many students to get individualized help.

This was the first time that I had mentored a cadet teacher, and it was a very powerful experience for me.  The main reason is because I was K’s fourth-grade teacher nine years ago.  I remember K as a hardworking, kind, and respectful fourth-grade student.  I was very impressed with what a motivated, responsible, caring, and confident young woman she has become.  What a rare gift it was for me to see her each day and to get to be her teacher again, although now in a different way.  I was honored that K had sought me out as the teacher she wanted to do her cadet teaching experience with.  One of the things I really treasured about this experience was the deep conversations we had about teaching, in general, as well as processing events and situations that occurred each day.

K has no illusions about the teaching profession and some of the challenges that she will face.  Her mother is a teacher and her father is a school counselor.  K has spent hundreds and hundreds of hours helping out in her mother’s classrooms growing up.  This has helped her to develop good teaching instincts that were in evidence during her cadet teaching experience.  We had many candid conversations about the challenges of teaching today and nothing was sugarcoated.

K simply has the drive and enthusiasm to be a fantastic teacher.   During one of her final days in our classroom, K said to me, “I can’t wait to have my own classroom.”  I believe this young woman was born to teach, and I know she will have a profound influence on her students, colleagues, and families.  I know I can honestly say that this experience has had a profound effect on me.

Teacher Cadet at Cotton Creek Elementary with Joan Knapp

The Teacher Cadet (TC) program through Adams12 Five Star Schools is excellent.  This year I was happy to learn that I would have a TC for the second time in my career with Adams 12!  It had been several years since my last TC, and I was really happy to be part of this program again.
     I met my TC in a professional interview-like setting.  She was prepared with a calendar of the dates she would be in my kindergarten classroom.  Her duties and responsibilities were outlined clearly.  She asked in-depth questions about my classroom routines, students, and school culture.
     My TC instantly bonded with the 28 students in my PM kindergarten class.  She was immediately proactive and intuitive, and it quickly became apparent how deeply she cared for each one.
     Throughout her time in the classroom, my TC showed great potential as a future educator.  She took time to learn a bit about each student's educational history and family, she noticed both positive and negative relationships between students in the classroom and worked to provide support to continue to develop the positive ones and to problem solve the negative ones.
     I was most impressed with my TC's knowledge of technology.  She used the classroom iPad to create lesson plans, keep anecdotal notes on student progress, and supplement lessons with miscellaneous apps.  When I made suggestions for instructing a particular small group, she immediately searched for an appropriate technological component.  She was careful to preview any app., photo, or internet site before introducing it to the kindergartners.  She taught me many more uses for the iPad as well!
     This TC spent far more time in my classroom than her required minimum hours.  She stayed for some grade-level meetings and a school-wide professional development meeting.  She was able to use her knowledge of Standards-Based Grading (done in her high school currently) and apply it to the new setting in the elementary school-giving me insight from a student perspective.  She attended an evening performance to support the class outside of school hours.
     One morning, my TC took the initiative to come to school during my AM kindergarten class time.  She was quite interested in comparing class culture, and immediately noticed many of the nuances that made the two classes so different!
     I highly recommend the Teacher Cadet program to any teacher who needs some extra support in the classroom.  The students are well prepared by instructor Sue Less to become future educators.  They transition to college educator-formation programs with so much background knowledge and practical experience.  I look forward to another year with a TC! 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mary Lou's Mentorship Experience with SJ at Hillcrest Elementary

My name is Mary Lou Keirns and I teach Kindergarten at Hillcrest Elementary in Northglenn, Colorado. I have taught for 28 years in Kindergarten and First Grade. SJ was my teacher cadet from January 31, 2013 to April 26, 2013.

SJ was easy to work with and took to the children quickly.  Kindergarteners love to talk and it was very easy and relaxed for SJ to answer the children in the proper way. She always made it a point to come in each morning and circulate the room as the students were entering. We call this a "relaxed start". SJ took care of collecting the children's daily folders and checking them in for me. She learned to take out the homework if there was any and collect any important notes. I allowed her to grade their homework and at the end of her experience, she brought the children up to the table who had more than three mistakes to correct it. SJ was also responsible for conferencing with two children who needed extra help during writing time. I also let her pick two others each day to visit with and help at writing. I loved when I would look over and see her laughing and enjoying the children's stories. 

She made a huge difference during writing time being an extra teacher in the room. SJ watched me for the first week and easily took to what I would do with each student during writing encouraging the children to resource the room or their tubs on their tables. She did a cute lesson for the kids during Easter week where she modeled a story of what she had done at Easter. They went back to their seats and completed an Easter story. It was a great experience for all! During reading, it was SJ's responsibility to work with all children. She engaged in Kindergarten sight word practice, sight word games, reading the books of the day with each child in a group format, playing beginning sound games, rhyme games and alphabet games. She was a favorite of the kids and they all wanted their turn with her! If Sam was there during math time, I had her work with the children who needed extra practice. 

I think the activity I liked best was SJ doing a bulletin board. Eric Carle was our author of the month and we did some paintings like Eric Carle would do. SJ took pictures of each child and glued them on a green circle. Each of these circles were part of Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar. She cut out a caterpillar face and made a board with their paintings and the caterpillar with each of their faces on it. SO so cute and it is still hanging up in the main hallway! 

SJ also had the experience of joining my grade level in a weekly meeting. She sat and listened to us collaborate and plan our weekly lessons. SJ had planned on joining us on a field trip to the zoo, but we had lots of snow and the trip was postponed. She also had the chance to do recess duty with me as well! That was an experience as she watched 100 kiddos run around on a playground! I loved having SJ in the room! Any extra teacher is only a benefit for the children! The children totally loved her and respected her! Sue Less did a wonderful job preparing her students for the classroom experience. YEA for the Teacher Cadet Program!