Post Written By: Kim Hatch
Major(s): Early Childhood - Middle Childhood
WOW, it has been quite a first week in student teaching! There was no school on Monday, but even for a short week, it was challenging. My cooperating teacher was out sick for two days so I got the chance to lead the class on my first day! My cooperating teacher emailed me her sub plans and told to me to go for it, if I was comfortable. I had the same cooperating teacher in Fall 2015 for Field 1 so I felt pretty comfortable with her routines. I woke up pretty nervous that morning knowing it was my first day with the students and that my cooperating teacher wouldn't be there. Being my first day I wasn't sure if I wanted to lead the class or observe the sub, but I decided to just go for it; sink or swim, right?! The substitute was very kind and let me lead and was there for support. It was a stressful couple of days, but quite a learning experience. I definitely learned a lot about myself as a teacher in those two days that she was gone.
We also got a hydroponic tower garden in our classroom on Tuesday. I had never seen one before and it was very interesting to learn about. It was made possible through a grant and the students are responsible for planting and harvesting the vegetables. The students helped assemble the garden and made room for it by the windows. We decided to wait to plan the seeds until the cooperating teacher returned; the students felt bad that she would miss it. How sweet that they thought of her!
Now that we are into our second week, I am really starting to get my footing in my classroom and build relationships with my students. I am discovering that fifth grade math is a lot harder than I remember. It's been a long time since I've had to do long division by hand and I'm realizing that we are very spoiled with calculators. I have had to relearn how to do math. I am taking the math book home with me over the weekends to try to refresh my memory and learn the upcoming lessons. I definitely have a new appreciation for calculators! Growing up, math never came easy to me and I find myself having a soft spot for the students who find themselves in the same boat. One student said to me, "Ms. Hatch, numbers are hard." I certainly feel his pain. This is where I love the relationships we build with students. We sat down together to figure out where he was making a left turn in his calculations. I really believe that it's the relationships we build with students that make teaching so special. Numbers might always be hard, but with a little encouragement, he will get through with perseverance, and motivation.
I had the opportunity to do Literacy Assessments with my cooperating teacher. I remember discussing the Fountas and Pinnell Assessments in Lit class a few semesters ago, but have never actually given one of these assessments. The learning experience was wonderful and very useful. My cooperating teacher and I each did an assessment on a student and we would compare our results. I appreciated her teaching me the ropes and giving me the opportunity to do a few of them. I will probably be using them in the future and it was nice to be able to experience it. We have been researching United States National Parks as each student is writing a report on their chosen park. I have never been to any of the national parks, but now I have a few that I would love to visit. The students are so excited about what they are learning and they are even getting a little competitive about whose park is cooler.
I am absolutely in love with fifth grade. The students are ten and eleven years old. They're at this tender age where they are on the edge of middle school and want to be independent, but they still need you a little bit. They know enough about the world to have a conversation about it, but not so much to be jaded. It's this really cool age where they are learning about the world and asking questions and deciding what they believe (which I'm sure will change several times before they really figure it out). I've had several experiences in different grade levels, but so far, fifth grade is my favorite. I'm sure my tune will change when I get to Kindergarten in fourth quarter and see the wonders of six year olds. One thing I know for sure is that teaching is definitely where I belong. It's beyond rewarding and I'm so happy I get to do it.