Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Shanny...

A while back I posted that I was going to have a full time student intern this semester. I shared some of my concerns about teaching her how to be a teacher, and my concern that she might not learn the good stuff from me.

Well, I've had her in my classroom now for about 2 months. Her name is Shannon and I like to call her Shanny...and you should be able to guess since I have a nickname for her that I like her. She's a great teacher! Shanny walked into my classroom and right into the hearts of my students (and my heart, for that matter). She quickly developed an easy relationship with most of my students, and experienced some of the same types of struggles that I experienced at the beginning of the year with these students.

Pretty quickly after Shannon started coming to my class, we planned what she would be teaching and when she'd begin and stop teaching. She will still be with me for three more weeks, four weeks if you figure that Spring Break comes while she's still with me, and I'm so excited to have seen her grow this semester. I know that I've been able to help her with some things that she has needed help with, but I've also learned from her. It's been more like a partnership of teachers than a mentor/mentee relationship. She's just great.

About three weeks ago Shanny said "I'm going to be so bored after I finish here." I promptly told her that I wasn't discussing that yet and that I want her to be able to get a job in my school. In all seriousness, I will be kind of bored when she finishes too. She has been great at making me see the good in my students at a time of the year when I begin to only see the bad in them. She also has a great since of humor that keeps me laughing! My students will miss her of them proposed to her about 3 weeks into her internship. He's in seventh grade, remember! So anyway, if you read this blog, and you know of any open positions for really great middle school math or language arts teachers, please let me know. I know a really great middle school teacher who is certified in math and language arts and is looking for a job! :)

Shannon and her dog, Hank

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring has SPRUNG

If you've taught for more than one year you know exactly what I mean when I tell you that my students are acting foolish because Spring has begun! It's kind of like coming to school when there's a full moon go because you have to and you are getting paid to be there, but you really don't look forward to the foolishness you are about to encounter!

The "Happy Thought" is that there are only 3 more weeks of school before Spring Break starts, which we are all looking forward to. Please don't misunderstand me...I LOVE teaching and LOVE my students but we've all gotten to the point where we need a break from each other.

Let me brag on my students for a little bit here...we have had MAP testing this week. I love MAP testing for a couple of reasons...1) it's computerized so the kids don't have to spend hours bubbling, and 2) students have immediate feedback about how well they've done as their score pops onto the screen when they complete the test. I gave my students a sticky note with their fall score written on it and prior to the test I had given them all a pep talk about doing their absolute best on the test.

Well, I haven't done the math so the figures I'm about to spout are estimates, but my students kicked booty on these tests this week! My estimate is that around 80% of my students showed gains from fall to spring. Somewhere between 15 and 20 of my students had gains greater than 10 points (generally when a student has a "BIG" gain, it's about 5 points or so). And finally I had one child gain 20 POINTS!!!! Yes...I'm shouting! This child worked SO hard on this test and it really paid off!

Lots of people at my school have said things like "well, they gained so much because you've taught them so well" but I don't see it that way. My teammates and I talked to several of our students who showed significant gains. We asked them what made the difference for them...why they scored so much higher this spring, etc. A majority said "because my teachers care about me." How FANTASTIC is that? We care, and they know we care, and because we care and they know, they work harder! I'm really excited about this!!!!

So, if you have any opportunity to lift up a student, show them that you care, please do it. They notice...they may not act like they notice or care, but they do and they work harder!!!