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February 22 Field Notes

hl13's picture
  • During lunch, Teacher L asked me to introduce myself and say a bit about why I would be joining them. I told them I was training at Haverford to be a teacher and wanted to learn about how to teach from their class. Then they asked me a couple of questions (will you teach here? Etc.) Then, Teacher L had each of them introduce themselves to me and say something about their selves. Students said thinks like ‘I really really really really like sports’ or ‘I am crazy about horses’. One student introduced herself to me in sign language spelling.
    • This is the best introduction to a field placement class that I’ve had so far. I really got to get a sense of each student from the beginning, and was introduced as a teacher and member of the community.
  • After the class had time for two students to share their fairy-tale projects, which were fairy tales they had written, illustrated, and bound. They first explained what the story was about, showed the cover and back with fake prizes and review quotes. (‘This story was excellent, it left me on the edge of my seat. When is the author writing a sequel?’ –Publisher’s Weekly) Then they read the story to the whole class, which was done in a friendly way with a bit of talking in the middle, and laughing with the group. (One boy said in the middle, ‘Teacher L said I couldn’t use violence, so I used cupcake blasters instead’). Afterwards, each of the two students received comments and maybe a question or two from the class, and lastly Teacher L. Before starting, Teacher L had made it a point to say that their comments had to be positive, with saying what you liked about the story first. The class really seemed to enjoy hearing these stories and was very enthusiastic with their praise.
    • This is the type of project I would have loved to do in elementary school. I thought it was a great aspect of the project that students practice reading out loud, and listening to an out loud story. I thought it was important that students remained very positive in their feedback
      • The class seems to get along very well with one another, especially in comparison to what I’ve seen before (if only in one visit). This is likely a difference I’m noticing between kindergarteners and fourth graders, not better or worse classrooms.
    • I liked that the project was very full/complete (covers and fake reviews, etc.)
  • Some details from the story readings: the boy who went first, T, had a map with his that he made in art class, the girl L had a dedication in her book to her father whom she said ‘passed away’, L’s story was full of what I thought was incredibly rich imagery and description for her age, and T’s story was very humorous and silly.
    • I thought the projects gave a great demonstration of the students’ individual differences, and allowed them a chance to ‘show what they know’ in a way meaningful to themselves, and then to share with the class in a way that was meaningful to the group. The differences in L’s and T’s story showed their uniqueness and strengths. I think Campano would have liked this project!

Here's a selection from my first visit at my official placement, a Quaker school

  • Today was my first day at Teacher L’s classroom. The room has the desks (13) arranged in a U shape facing a whiteboard, with three desks in front of the U directly facing the board. There are posters all over the walls, and in particular one wall is entirely taken up by a collage done by students of an old-fashioned town by a cranberry bog, a village museum the class went to in October. (One student told me that each of them were responsible for making one of the houses or features of the town, she made the blacksmith’s.) There is a corner next to three bay windows with big pillows and a low table that looks like it could be a reading nook. There is also a small set of bookshelves holding independent reading books (Eragon, Redwall, Dear Americabooks, etc.) with more pillows and a reading bench. Facing that is the Teacher’s desk, also covered by bookshelves. There is a sink in the opposite corner of the room, near the door, with some can of coffee and a coffee grinder, which I think is used for the students Costa Rican studies, where they sell coffee from fair trade farms to benefit a sustainable agriculture program. The Costa Rican studies program culminates in a sixth grade trip there, which the students have talked about with me already. Also on the walls are many pictures of the students, either of them reading hanging in the reading nook, or photos of them as a feature on one wall of their class. Hanging from the ceiling were foam board cloud cutouts, as well as shades that look like leaves, and a map of Pennsylvania.
    • I liked that there was a lot of evidence of student work and pictures of the class. The classroom seemed very homey, and I think a bit of disorganized hominess can make a classroom seem like a friendlier place.
      • What are the advantages of having a “friendly” classroom? The disadvantages? It makes students more comfortable, but what about being too comfortable? I’m not sure about this, just trying to stretch the point.
  • I came in just as the students returned from recess. Students came running in, took their coats off in the cubbies in the hall, and came to the desks talking and laughing. It was fairly chaotic, but Teacher L was calm, as he walked in and spoke with me. Students came up to me cheerfully and asked who I was, if I went to Haverford, etc. I talked with some of them about who I was, who they were, if their parents worked at Haverford, etc. Eventually, and with very little encouragement from Teacher L, the classroom grew quieter as students began to eat. Many brought their lunch, but Teacher L sent a student to the office to pick up a pizza, because students can choose to pay and eat a pizza lunch on Fridays (with apples).
    • I enjoyed talking to all the children and they were pretty much all eager to meet me, talk with me, and show me things they know/have learned (sign language, talking about the math they learn).
    • I really appreciated the tolerance Teacher L had for a bit of chaos (something I don’t always see in classrooms I’ve worked in). I also loved the quiet demeanor he had with his students. He didn’t seem at all to discipline them, but it is clear that he did from how smoothly the class runs in and out of its small chaoses. The students all seemed very friendly with one another.
      • Part of my intense appreciation for what went on in my first visit of this classroom has to do with the developmental differences between kindergarteners (who I’ve worked with a lot in the past) and fourth graders. Kindergarteners are much less used to all school entails, like sitting still. However, I also wondered how much the small class size (13) and private school selectiveness also effects the changes in this classroom from what I’ve seen in the past.