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This semester, I have been student teaching. I loved every minute of it and learned so much. Today, I got an awesome surprise. My University supervisor (the person from FSU who gave me grades and so much more) called to let me know all my paperwork had gone through and that I was clear for graduation! (YAY!) But she told me something else that was very honoring. She complimented my final reflection and said that it had been given to the Asst. Dean of the College of Education because it was written so well. 🙂 Honestly, I had no idea that that would happen or even that it was a possibility. She told me that the people at FSU were so impressed that they sent it to the Dean to be reviewed and used as a future example piece in the program. I was so honored and excited. Now I can say there is still a piece of me at FSU, touching people into the future, which always was and remains to be my joy of life as a teacher.

I also must confess that I couldn’t even remember exactly what I wrote, so I found it and this is what I wrote:

(Also, side note: there are 12 accomplished practices that we are evaluated on from day one in the program, so that is what I am discussing in this reflection)

Of all the areas of accomplished practices, I feel that I have made the most progress in Communication. The reason I really feel that this is my greatest achievement is that it has been the most lengthy period of time since beginning teacher education that I have had the opportunity to express my voice as an educator and be heard and respected for my professional opinions. I also feel that practice is key to success. Short-term experiences in the classroom give the opportunity for new teachers to try techniques and ideas but do not provide the long-term practice and evaluation that really leads to mastery. One of my own goals for this semester was to become a fluent and confident communicator. In the beginning, it was difficult to be instructional and conversational at the same time. I had a hard time moving smoothly between questioning, instructing, and providing adequate feedback to students. In order to meet this challenge, I made a “cheat sheet” for each of my lessons, essentially a checklist that I constructed from my plans that included my objective, each part of the lesson in progression and three to four questions that I wanted to be sure to include in each section of my lesson. I began with a page for each lesson, then moved to an index card, and then to just a sticky note or two. I found that the more I wrote questions and focused on my skills as a communicator, it began to just come naturally to me. I also set weekly goals of specific things I wanted to practice. Specific praise was definitely part of that strategy. I spent time making sure that I gave excellent praise and it was directed to particular student using what he/she had learned from the lesson.
Other than classroom communication, I was also looking to develop my skills as a professional communicator, speaking to parents, administrators, and other colleagues in a confident and qualified manner. I had the opportunity to meet with other teachers weekly and took that opportunity to absorb much information and to give some of my own suggestions. Also, I took the initiative to meet with and interact with the administration and parents. I feel like this is a step in my professional life that had been lacking and was intimidating to me as a new teacher. But, now I feel much more prepared to interview and interact with administrators and parents. Overall, I have felt an exponential amount of growth during this past semester. The skills that I have now developed in communication are only a small part of the whole picture of progress that I feel I have achieved.

Florida Accomplished Practice #2

Communication — FSU Unit Indicators:

  • 2.1. Identifies and uses appropriate techniques for effective classroom instruction (e.g. listening, modeling/demonstrating, using examples and non-examples, checking for understanding, getting students’ attention, probing, summarizing student comments, set induction, and closure).
  • 2.2. Encourages students in a positive and supportive manner while communicating to all students high expectations for learning.
  • 2.3. Uses communication techniques (e.g. conferences, telephone calls, letters, newsletters, e-mails, and web sites) effectively with students, colleagues, school/community specialists, administrators, and families
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    Today I went on a hunt for electric pencil sharpeners that I need for my classroom. Everyone said, just go to wal-mart, but I don’t shop at wal-mart at all. (another post for another day) Anyway, went to Staples, Target, and finally Office Max, where thank goodness, I finally found one (two actually). **PS If you are looking for a sale on electric pencil sharpeners, go to office max, thier $22.99 mid-grade model is on sale for $10.00 Wahoo!!**

    But, that is not even the story. Here is the funny part… 🙂

    At Target, I got a few supplies and decided that I needed marking/grading pens.. they had a pack on sale for $.99 so I decided that that would be a worthwile investment. When I got to the check out, they wouldn’t ring up. They just read “item invalid” or something like that. So, to avoid a bunch of drama for cheap pens, I just said, “I don’t need them, don’t worry about it.” It wasn’t a big deal, I just thought it would be nice to have some back-up pens… Oh well. At this point, I had crossed Staples off the list and now Target, so I was off to Office Max. When I walked in the door, someone pointed me in the right direction, and I was met with three nice choices, I chose the middle price and then my eye was caught on a box of purple pens, yes, purple, a good choice for grading, in my opinion, so I picked up a box! At check out, I was plesently surprised that the pencil sharpener was less than half the normal price and the pens were only $0.01… no lie! So then, the cashier says “Um, I am not supposed to sell these (the pens) to you because there has been a recall on the product, do you really need them?” Of course, avoiding drama once again, I said, “No, that’s ok” So I had finished the classroom supply trip with two pencil sharpeners and NO PENS, not for lack of trying!!! I guess I didn’t need them!!

    Funny how sometimes things don’t work out… and sometimes they do! (I am still glad I did not go to wal-mart) 🙂