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Just Dewey It

et502's picture

Thoughts on my last day at my placement and "productivity"

My last day at my placement was surprisingly calm. The students had a short day at school, so they'd had a full 3 hours to relax before coming to Wordsmiths. What a difference that made in attitude and atmosphere! We were so much more effective; everyone was in a good mindset for working. I think that, by itself, was really telling of what students need in their daily routine: time to relax.

The student that I worked with, Bianca, said that she spent all 3 hours on her kindle, playing games. And when I think about it, I sometimes need a few hours to unwind--and I end up watching videos on Hulu or talking with friends. And that time is not "wasted"--though it's hard for me to think about it as useful, since so often, we talk about relaxation time as "unproductive."

In fact, I think those hours of "non-productivity" contribute to a sense of balance and, with reflection, internally-driven motivation to get things done when you do sit down to work. You need to hibernate, in order to create. It's unfair to expect students to produce constantly. I, personally, prefer intense work interspersed with calm/relaxation/physical activity. Longer days, working without pausing to relax, seem somehow less productive and more like busy work. I sense that some of the students at my placement feel the same way.

L13's picture

Field Notes

Leaving My Placement

I haven’t really ever felt concerned about leaving my placement before. For some reason, this time I do. I think this is particularity because I have grown very attached to several students and the host teachers were so wonderful to me, especially with the cross-visitations. When I asked a day ahead of time, they let me still bring someone to visit – twice.

That being said, I’m very excited to thank them for everything. Here is my problem – there is an aid in the classroom who also acts as a teacher but has not played a huge role in my experience – can I give the other two teachers a card/gift certificate but not the aid? Is there a classy way to do this?

 Also, is there something that I should give to the students? I plan on making sure I say goodbye to all of the students, especially the ones that I have worked more with but if I give cards to the teachers will they notice if I don’t give the students something?

 Just some thoughts – looking forward to being done but also sad to leave something that I had very little expectations for and have learned a lot from.


L13's picture

Field Notes

Alex has a learning disability – I’m not exactly sure what it is but he has a personal aid in the classroom. This aid is only there for two hours at the beginning of the day and then Alex is on his own.

 After she leaves Alex gets visibly different – he is less focused and disrupts his classmates more. This past week, during one student’s computer time, Alex kept going up to the monitor and turning it off. Then eventually he just put his hand on it and never let it go so the girl on the computer started to ask him to move his hand. Alex wouldn’t. So I went over and said, “Alex, Grace is using her words and asking you to stop, did you hear her?” No response. Then I said, “Alex you need to listen to her and take your hand of the monitor. Lets go together and find another lesson to do.” Nothing. Then a teacher came over and physically moved Alex by pulling his hand down and then picking him up and moving him to the other side of the classroom. While this was clearly effective, it is not the first thing I would think to do – in fact it was probably the last.

 When is it okay to physically move students from doing something? I always thought that physicality was reserved for dangerous situations. Does this change when a student can’t process words? By moving them are we demonstrating that communication doesn’t work? 

L13's picture

Field Notes


While the students have “free lesson time” they can chose to do their lesson at a table or on the big carpet in the middle of the classroom. If they do the lesson in the middle of the classroom, they have to grab a small individual carpet to put their lesson on – so the pieces of the lesson don’t get lost.

 This past week, two boys, the oldest two in the class at 6yrs, were doing a puzzle on the rug without a personal rug for the lesson. I asked them, “what do you need it you are doing a lesson on the big rug?” one of the boys responded, “We don’t need a personal rug for puzzles.” I said, “Alright, good to know, thank you.” Later, I saw a different student doing a puzzle and using a personal rug.

 This made me feel really awkward and unsure of my place in the classroom. The student was probably just being over cautious and didn’t in fact need a personal rug – but it got me to thinking – how can we, as visiting teachers, truly discipline without being aware and knowing all of the rules? I was able to clarify with the teacher about the policy on personal rugs – she said it depends on the puzzle.

L13's picture

Field Notes


 I have mentioned this student before in passing but I thought it would be worthwhile (mostly for myself) to devote an entire field post to her.

 Samantha is the most adorable Chinese 4 year old. Her parents moved here right before she was born. From the beginning of my placement, in January, she has been kind of a pet=project of mine, a student who I always try to work with because she is more quiet and doesn’t seem to socially click with the other students. She slowly started to open up to me and we would have small conversations while working on lessons together.

 A few weeks ago during a full class circle, the teacher made the announcement that Samantha would be moving back to China at the end of the school year. I spoke to the teachers privately afterward and found out that Samantha’s parents were getting worried that Samantha was beginning to like the United States too much – or at least they were worried she wouldn’t want to live in China and would never visit family in China so they were going to move back as a family.

 After that, Samantha has started to talk with me a lot less. It is also very interesting because on Monday her English is very choppy and almost impossible to understand, comparatively, on Wednesday it gets bit better and she can understand sentences. I think it has to do with her family speaking Chinese at home over the weekend – so she gets more accustomed to it over the weekend – maybe she has fallen back into a pattern by Wednesday?

Riley's picture

field notes 4/26

Last Friday at my field placement, it was Grandparents' Day at the elementary school. All of the children in the school's grandparents were welcome to come to school with their grandchildren on this day, and they followed along with the students during their lessons in the morning. Most grandparents then took their grandchildren out for lunch, and spent the afternoon with them outside of school. Because of this, the lesson plan for the day was changed from what it normally is, and after lunch, there were only about five of the fifteen students left in the classroom.

Although it wasn't a normal school day, I still made a lot of interesting observations this day, especially in terms of class--although I encounter a good bit of diversity at my Friends school placement, it is still interesting to me that every single student's grandparents in my placement class were able and willing to take time out of their day to spend time with their grandchild. Would this have been different in a public school setting a mere few blocks away from this center city school? Probably. In a less affluent school setting, it might be considered presumptuous to assume every grandparent is able to take time out of their day to spend time with their grandchild at school, and them take them out of school for the afternoon--perhaps the grandparent has to work, or has other commitments; perhaps they are not retired at as early of an age as some more affluent people in the Philadelphia area. These are important things to consider.

et502's picture

Who's in charge? (situation is unclear)

Yesterday, the site supervisor was not at Wordsmiths. She had another commitment this entire week, so she’d emailed me and several other interns beforehand to let us know. In the email, Mariah had said that we should use the time-out discipline structure as needed, and had told us to call her if anything went awry.  Since I knew she’d given keys to other people, I assumed she had just included me on this list so that I’d be prepared for the situation.

When I arrived on Wednesday afternoon, there were 2 other interns there. They told me that they had been there on Monday and Tuesday as well. I suggested that we go outside first, since it was nice out; I remember thinking that, when I was there 2 weeks ago, it might have been night to get some of the kids’ energy out before making them sit down and do work. Both interns disagreed with me—they said that the kids had “gotten better” in the past weeks, and they wanted to stick to this routine.

In this situation, I felt that I was more like a “volunteer” than an “intern”—I definitely did not feel that I had the authority to make decisions that would affect the schedule. I wanted to, but deferred to the interns’ decision. However, I think that these other two girls were also unsure of their authority; they didn’t want to deviate from the normal programming, even if it could be a positive experiment. 

et502's picture

How do you learn?

A few years ago, I signed up to get email updates from, a site that compiles online tutorials and resources for both students and teachers. Today's email: Do you know your learning style? Find out using SOPHIA's learning preference assessment. Take our two-minute adventure and you'll be on your way to making the most of your learning potential.

So of course, I took it. While I think my learning style is slightly more nuanced than their response, it was fun to reflect on the kind of teaching that I respond to.. 

et502's picture

What will schools be like in 100 years?

Hi everyone! 

I was thinking about the school-drawing prompts from both our group (Just Dewey It) and the group presenting about creativity (CHES)... So this event caught my attention. 

I've been following Lynda Barry, an artist/cartoonist/all around awesome person, on Tumblr. She recently hosted a workshop doing something similar to our prompt - but involving kids in the process of imagining. Here are some photos from that event: 

and here's the poster for the event:

Intersections between art, imagination, and planning.. wish I could have gone to this!

L13's picture

Field Notes: Spring Break

Field Notes: Spring Break


So these are unofficial field notes – just wanted to share some thoughts. Last week was a great week at my placement and very informative (see recently posted field notes) but this week is Spring Break for my placement so I haven’t been there at all. And two weeks ago I was on Spring Break so I missed going to my placement then. I guess I am saying, I feel anxiety being away from my placement so often in the past three weeks especially when my students are younger and may not remember me in addition to my role in the classroom being different from their regular teachers. I hope this week when I go back things fall in place and I have not been forgotten. (Or that I have forgotten their names – given that I have a terrible memory.)

Bringing this back to education related talk – rather than just feelings – I wonder if this type of break is good for students and teachers? Yes, I think everyone is burnt out and needs a break sometimes, but if I am worried about forgetting things over these two week breaks, couldn’t students also be forgetting things that are relevant to course material? While the break is needed for the body – does the rest also help or hurt the mind? I would argue that the rest/break helps everything but that might just be my own personal experience and maybe the break can be helpful or hurtful depending on age and learning style.

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