Being Taught to Teach

Entering Public School
November 30, 2010, 3:45 am
Filed under: Encounters in 5th Grade

After my morning hours at the French Immersion school I headed a few miles away and went into my first day of public fifth grade class.  Although it was a stark difference to the setting from earlier.  I still greatly enjoyed the experience.  The class size doubled, making this a class of thirty-two students and rather than be so culturally diverse, this was certainly an ethnically diverse class.

Today I introduced myself to the class and they were able to ask me a few questions, then I observed for a while before helping with writing assignments.   This class proved much more challenging and even from day one it is apparent the perks of private schools.  Although, once I was beyond the more rawness of the class and able to work one-on-one it was very rewarding.  The first girl I helped is very challenged when it comes to writing.  Yesterday the kids were supposed to be “showing” paragraphs rather than “telling”. Today’s task was revising and editing. Mrs. Smith’s first major hurtle was making sure everyone knew what revising meant.  After a few minutes of explaining and modeling examples everyone set to work (modeling being one of Walqui’s key scaffolding techniques).  The girl I worked with admitted she really didn’t know what she had written the day before and had simply been trying to fill the paper.  It was apparent that we would need to rewrite everything at the start.  We went through it slowly and I was able to help a few other students with their questions as we worked.  I had her re-read her own work, find mistakes and correct them until she was satisfied.  At the end I felt really good and I think she was happy with the outcome.

Most of the two hours I was there was spent observing and walking around the classroom, but occasionally kids asked me for help.  One thing that I’m disappointed I never was exposed to in school was a gardening course.  It makes so much sense to do, but then again so does cooking, sewing and other basic skills the Oakland schools didn’t seem to provide learning spaces for.  Half of the class left the room for thirty minutes for gardening, upon their return one of the girls gave me a sweet purple flower.  Some of the other kids gave Mrs. Smith a small bunch of flowers they had gathered.  

Even though both of the schools I am volunteering in are very different, I look forward to the individual experiences each will provide.


First Grade French
November 30, 2010, 3:18 am
Filed under: First Grade French

Today was my first day of volunteering in the classroom, it was fantastic.  Being in this school is like stumbling upon a unique culture corner of the world.  The school itself represents children from over forty countries!

Most of the morning was taught in French and I remembered a fair chunk.  The teacher (PJ) was in very good control of his class of fifteen, sure there was some acting up but he was able to calmly (in French) remind those students to focus, close their mouths and keep their eyes on the board.  After a while the English teacher had her teaching hour.  She had a far more shrewd approach with the children.  Rather than calmly getting the children to quiet down there

was a lot of slamming her story book and “Do you want me to even read this story?” I guess it worked, but did not seem as effective as PJ’s method.  I really don’t think that’s the way to get kids to respond, they usually just look like a deer in headlights when she yells, meek and bewildered.

Most of my activities consisted of walking around the classroom, checking work and spelling, helping with art projects, etc.  A student that I know was cute, she kept showing me various projects whenever she could sneak a chance.  Many of the kids were excited to have me in the class, a new face and all.  While I was helping one of the girls with her work  the boy sitting next to her (the seating is boy, girl, boy) leaned over to me and said, “Guess what?” Without giving me a chance to respond he blurted, “You’re cute, ” raised his eyebrows and went back to his work…I was not ready for the suave nature of these culturally diverse first graders!

My first day already had me reeling with delight! I know I am only beginning and teaching is a lot of work, but when I actually get to watch learning take place I feel that all the hard work I encounter will be worth it.

The Beginning
November 29, 2010, 2:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have always been told I would make a good teacher, now it is time to see if that’s true.  I grew up in Oakland, went through the public school system and made it to the University of California, Santa Barbara for undergrad.  My education in Oakland gave me a strong, culturally diverse background.  Once I started studying at UCSB I fell for the Cultural Anthropology department.  By taking courses in this discipline I could broaden my understanding of human culture and better interact with anyone I came in contact with.  After graduating from UCSB and working for a few years I decided it was time to go back to school and earn a teaching credential, perhaps a masters and educate a group of cultural and socio-economically diverse children.  That is the path I now face.  In order to prepare myself for a rigorous program I have begun volunteering in two very different school settings.

The first school I began helping in is a French Immersion school. I am helping in a first grade classroom of fifteen children.  Although I am a little rusty in French, I am able to help with spelling, reading and math, as well as with their English sessions.

After I finish in the French Immersion school for the morning I drive a few miles to a public elementary school.  Here I help in a fifth grade class, mostly working one-on-one or in small groups to give students the attention they cannot normally receive due to class size (thirty-two).

Here I hope to share my experiences in becoming and being a teacher.  Now it is time to take my first steps…