Sienna M.

July 20th – August 13th (34.01 hours) – Recently, I ran the procedure for Daily Math Skills with the students. Though we made it through the assigned script, it was difficult to keep them on task and focused. They also chatted far too much between instructions. From that experience, I learned quite a bit about the kind of presence one needs to have to command a room and persuade the children to listen to what you have to say. Next time, I will be using more of our classroom management techniques. In addition, I will be walking around the classroom and monitoring students closely to ensure they are using their time efficiently.

One thing I want to learn from the program is how to communicate more efficiently. Whenever one needs to contact someone, there is a delicate balance including word choice and method. Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate what is appropriate for what situation. In particular, I think I need to learn more about speaking over the phone; I rarely use this mode and there is plenty of room for improvement. From Mrs. Roberts, my mentor, I want to find out more about how to maintain professional relationships with coworkers, especially as a team lead. I have been taking steps to observe this by attending various staff meetings.

One thing that I have learned about myself as an emerging professional is that sometimes I am too timid; I lack the courage to take even relatively insignificant risks. I tend to “play it safe”, entirely too reliant on instructions from my superiors. As a student, it has come to my attention that I need to develop better methods of organization. This is true about both my life as a whole and the papers and such that are integral to it. Setting up and maintaining a digital calendar has truly redefined the way that I approach deadlines. By implementing a few more simple changes, I will be better prepared for the future.

August 14th – August 27th (14.01 hours) – Within the past two weeks, I had my first experience with working with a small group of students by myself. I had the responsibility of picking out an age (and reading level) appropriate novel and structuring about fifteen minutes of time around it. I worked with three students: one of whom is notably difficult to keep on task. I chose to have the students and myself alternate between reading different passages, making sure to address unfamiliar words or phrases. In addition, we discussed the differences and merits of literal and nonliteral language, as that was their reading standard at the time. I was a bit nervous before I actually worked with them. However, I gained some confidence after the students actually remained on task and genuinely seemed to enjoy the activity. I was also reminded just how much the kids differ from each other; they all have different strengths and weaknesses, and it is always important to keep that in mind when working with them.

August 28th – September 10th (15.79 hours) – These past two weeks have truly focused on benchmark review. Because of this, I had the opportunity to observe just how much planning is required to prepare students for the exam. I was actually able to watch testing procedures in action twice. It was interesting to note how the education system lacks the ability to tailor itself to individual students. For example, a few of them finished fairly quick, but they were forced to wait on the rest of their peers to finish. Asking any child to be silent and still for that amount of time is nearly impossible. I felt that perhaps this system of evaluating students is inefficient and does not accurately portray their true understanding or mastery of a topic. Especially as this is not a timed test, it does not allow them to develop the skills needed for exams like the ACT or SAT.

At Mesquite Elementary, there are certain expectations and personality requirements that need to be met in order to have a productive work experience. In regard to personality, it is generally expected that everyone should have a positive attitude in the classroom, especially when working with students. You should also ensure that you treat the students all with the same level of respect and courtesy. On the other hand, behavior is expected to conform to typical workplace standards. For example, little to no use of cell phones and answering classroom phones professionally. In addition, employees are expected to be able to make small decisions with no oversight from their supervisors.

In general, meeting the expectations at Mesquite is a natural fit for my personality. However, some days in particular it poses a challenge. Per my schedule with Mrs. Roberts, I work longer on Thursdays. Sadly, this is also the day that I take exams in most of my other classes. It it is remarkably easy to get frustrated with the third graders after AP Language and AP Government exams. On those days, I have to make sure that I step back and evaluate the situation a second time before responding.

One vocabulary term I was unfamiliar with at the start of my internship was “sped”. This term is actually an acronym, it stands for “special education”. As a whole, special education refers to a form of learning that is tailored to an individual student’s needs, normally related to a disability. I came across this term when my mentor referred to one of the other employees as a sped teacher. At first, I was unaware what subject they taught (until I asked for clarification).

September 11th – September 24th (8.01 hours) – At the beginning of these last two weeks, I had my first encounter working with a substitute teacher rather than Mrs. Roberts. It was interesting to observe the juxtaposition between how the instructor ran her classroom when compared to how Mrs. Roberts usually does. In fact, it was a little bit awkward because the students were more comfortable with me rather than the substitute. I think this was because I have spent far longer with them in the classroom and worked with them extensively, whereas the substitute was more of a stranger. From this experience, I learned that sometimes my presence could be more of a distraction than an asset to the teacher. In the future, I will try to keep the students on task and engaged with what the sub is teaching.

Recently, I learned the specific definition for benchmark testing. A benchmark test is one that uses specific, measurable standards that students can be evaluated on. I came into contact with this term because the third graders recently finished up their benchmarks and all of the teachers had to determine what standards they needed to reteach or review going forward.

September 25th – October 8th (0 hours) – Because this log consists of the weeks of fall break, I have not been able to work with the third graders recently. However, a few weeks ago I did get thrown into a situation that I had not planned on at the beginning of my shift. Mrs. Roberts had to take a quick phone call, so she approached me and inquired if there was any way possible that I could set the students up for their next activity by reading them A Bad Case of Stripes. Normally when I do a whole-group activity, Mrs. Roberts gives me a few hours or days notice to prepare. Though she seemed a bit nervous to spring this on me, I was excited. I love working with the students, and reading to them is simple (and difficult to make mistakes while doing). I feel like this also served as a confidence boost, reaffirming that I am capable of doing real and helpful tasks for Mrs. Roberts.

Most often, I communicate via in-person contact at Mesquite. Instead of working at my own specific desk or cubicle, I tend to station myself wherever I can be most helpful to Mrs. Roberts. In addition, she always in the room with me. This means that simply having a quick verbal exchange with her is far easier than sending her an email and then waiting for her to make time to use her computer to respond. If I ever need to speak with one of the other teachers on the team, I can do so during their lunch break. I could also just poke my head into their rooms to see if they are too busy to answer my question.

I think that in-person communication is a perfect fit for me. Though there is obviously always a degree of professionalism involved, it is a little bit more relaxed than some other methods. After all, there is no need to check whether not you have misspelled a word or misplaced a period as you say something aloud. When I do have questions for Mrs. Roberts, I tend to ask them as soon as I have a chance to. A majority of my questions do not truly require elaborate or in-depth answers. However, when they do, I wait until the students have been released to ask them. This ensures that I do not take away from class time and also that we are not interrupted in the middle of an extensive discussion.

Before I started working at Mesquite, I had no idea what the term “specials” meant. However, this word refers to the rotating schedule of classes that the third graders attend. This list includes art, music, physical education, and a trip to the computer lab. I learned this word when I saw it used on the lesson plan.

October 9th – October 22nd (2.67 hours) – This week was the return of the elementary school students from their fall break. Because of this, we are going through the motions of reminding them about classroom procedures and acceptable behavior. I spent much of my time as an intern observing this week as Mrs. Roberts taught. On the other hand, I was surprised by how many of the third graders remembered to bring their math homework back. While I did grade their papers, next week I will be focusing my efforts on the file cabinet goal that I set with Mrs. Polivchak during our site visit. From this experience, I learned that I need to maximize the use of my time better to truly assist my mentor.

One acronym that I learned on my site is “ELL”. It stands for English Language Learner. This term is especially important due to the location that Mesquite is located in. Many of our students are raised in homes that primarily speak a different language, which necessitates additional instruction to raise them to the age-appropriate standard for English.

October 23rd – November 5th (9.76 hours) – Last week, I organized a binder for Mrs. Roberts that lists all of the standards that the third graders have to learn before the end of the year. Though it was not the most exciting use of my time, I did learn a lot from the experience. Before this, I really had no idea what the standards looked like and what sort of content they covered. I was surprised at the depth of the types of material that the third graders have to master before the end of the school year. Some of the standards towards the end of the year are concepts that my teachers did not even begin to cover until fourth or fifth grade. I am truly interested to know how Mrs. Roberts will structure her instruction for the more complex ideas she needs to cover later in the year.

About a month ago, I was enlisted by all of the teachers to cut out various pieces of paper for all of the students in the third grade. However, after I had finished the class sets for Ms. Rivera and Mrs. Roberts, I realized that I had completely forgotten how many Mrs. Olson needed. This meant I had to ask her for clarification. I chose to use verbal communication, as it is the primary method used at Mesquite Elementary. I waited to speak to her until I would not prove to be too much of a disruption for her class as a whole. While the students were participating in independent work, I quickly came in, asked my question, and left. In the future, I want to attempt to use other forms of communication, namely electronic alternatives.

On the days I intern, I come in during the teacher’s lunch break. Because of this, I regularly have the opportunity to engage on a purely social level with my coworkers. Normally we discuss how the school day has gone so far and how their days have been going. Occasionally, they ask me about how school assignments have gone or how my little sister is doing. In addition to this, they are always happy to answer any of my seemingly random questions about what it is like to be an educator. Due to the fact that I have known them since July, I am very comfortable with all of them. I enjoy to talking to all of them, whether it be on a professional level or not.

A learning standard is an element of education that defines the specific content that is found in the body of a course. I learned this word and became familiar with some of Arizona’s standards when I organized a binder for Mrs. Roberts. This text governs almost all aspects of a student’s education and gives teachers clear guidelines about what the content they are expected to instruct upon.

November 6th – November 19th (8.79 hours) – This week, one of the third-grade teachers had to leave on short notice. Because of this, we were short staffed for reteach and enrich. This meant that I had to watch one of the classes as they worked in partners on word problems. Initially, I was incredibly apprehensive about the entire situation but I quickly grew comfortable with watching the students. The only problem that I ran into concerned the behavior of one child in particular. She was having an incredible amount of difficulty focusing, so I attempted all of the redirection techniques I had observed Mrs. Roberts use in the past. However, I simply lacked the authority necessary for her to actually take me seriously. Next time, I am going to try to be more authoritative and I will not stop until she listens to me.

At the beginning of the semester, Mrs. Roberts and I constructed a strict schedule that I was expected to adhere to. All in all, I was on time every single time that I came in to work at my site. For the few days that I missed, I communicated at least a week in advance with Mrs. Roberts through both verbal and written communication. Setting such rigid expectations truly helped me succeed; it reassured me to know exactly how many hours I was earning or needed to earn before the deadline. Planning around the days I had to miss presented a challenge, so I was glad that I did not have to miss any shifts unexpectedly. All in all, scheduling was an easy way to keep on track and ensure accountability, rather than merely showing up at irregular intervals.

At the beginning of the semester, there was a steep learning curve associated with time management. I struggled with balancing my online classes, homework, and my internship schedule. I found myself prioritizing other parts of my “school life” after the internship, when, in reality, I should have viewed them equally. Around September, I created a stricter schedule with specific amounts of time devoted to internship-related work and other school obligations. Recently, I have been doing well in splitting my time, due to these extra efforts. My extracurriculars did not truly demand a meaningful amount of time this semester; instead, they pick up towards February and April.

One term that I learned at my internship site was IEP. This acronym stands for Individualized Education Program. This service is provided for students that need their education tailored to them for a variety of reasons. I had heard this term before I started my internship, but Mrs. Roberts is the one who defined and explained it to me.