Teaching in LA next year!!!

Hey Everyone!

I have been accepted to Teach for America! I will be writing and sharing my experiences with you all as I learn new and exciting things in the world of teaching!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Half way point (check)!

Wow, so for those of you who have been following my blog thus far the half way point of Teach for America (Institute) is over! I have mixed feelings about this, because I have never slept so little in my entire life yet I love the kids I am working with so that will be sad to leave.

Lesson plans have been VERY daunting to say the least. At first, I felt a little ridiculous scripting out my entire lesson plan because the task seemed a bit over exaggerated. However, now that I am getting used to it, I am starting to realize that scripting out your lesson plans is the best thing to do because as you read it yourself, you are able to discern if what you are teaching makes sense or if the kids are going to stare back at you with blank looks thinking, "This blond teacher that is rapidly firing words at me has no idea that everything she is saying is not going into my brain." So, with that said I really feel this rather "daunting" task has actually made me a better teacher.

Now onto a boy in my class who is amazing! For the sake of privacy we are going to name him (steven). So, the first day of summer school everyone in my class was writing down notes, and following along with their worksheets as I would talk. However, Steven wouldn't. I had Steven stay after at break and finish his work, which he was happy to do. As I started talking with him I realized he wasn't a defiant boy rather he didn't know how to study. So, I was pretty stumped at how to help him... until AIT (AIT are small sessions about 25 min. of individual attention) I asked him what setting was and he replied, "I don't know." I thought this was a little weird considering I had tested his reading level and knew he was at a 6th grade reading level, and he had 2 days of teaching that was focused on "setting." So, I said ok and had him read the book I had planned for him and his fellow classmates to read. About a page and a half in I stopped him and asked him to tell me what was going on in the story. He told me exactly what was going on in the story and even used sensory details. So, I wondered how then he couldn't answer a basic question such as, "What is setting." So, I turned the paper around asked him to read the question, "What is setting." He read the question looked up and said, "The time or place of the story." I assumed then that he must have a verbal processing disorder. I called his mom and asked her if I sent Steven my lesson plans would she have him just sit and read them. She said she would. So, thus began the experiment. Steven sat there the night before my lecture and read the entire thing. He came in the next day, and did all of his work beautifully!! He can learn, he just didn't know how to!!! This is why I teach, and this is why I am so passionate about the kids I teach!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I'm Here!

Hey everyone!

Wow, it's been such an overwhelming week! I was at Amber and Derek's wedding which was beautiful. She was born to be a bride she looked gorgeous. After the wedding I boarded the airplane for 14 hrs. and then came here to TFA. It is sooooo OVERWHELMING. I feel really excited to learn about teaching and how to become a more effective teacher, and also to join in this incredible community.

Well, so far I know that this summer I will be teaching at a Middle School Charter school in Los Angeles. My schedule goes from 5:30 AM until about 10:00 PM at night. Along with that I have about a 600-700 page manual that I have to read and conduct lesson plans with. Wow, this summer will be fast, hard, and really challenging but I am excited to get started.

I will post more next week when my first week of teaching actually starts!

Monday, June 7, 2010


Hey everyone!

So, I passed 2 of the 3 tests I needed to pass. My third test I received a 119/120. So, TFA is now reviewing my file and deciding if I continue through this year or if I have to defer a year and start next summer. I will keep everyone updated as the process continues.

I know that God has a beautiful plan through this all, and He will be faithful to deliver His plan for me this next year. He is a sovereign God who has our best intentions. Thank you for all your prayers and support this far, and I would appreciate them throughout this month as I wait to see what Teach for America decision is for me!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Maintain High Expectations

I have been drowning in readings and video clips of effective teaching strategies. I stumbled upon a book about classroom management which has been useful, and quite insightful. The first chapter is titled, "Maintain high expectations for student's behavior and for one's own ability to assert authority in the classroom." This concept has been amazing to learn about. Each teacher has an objective daily for the classroom that goes along with the state standard, and the lesson for which the teacher has prepared. With this objective, each student has specific expectations they set for themselves as each standard is presented. The teacher meets with each student at the beginning of a new unit and goes over individual goals each student writes and strives to achieve individually. Then, the teacher meets with the student again at the end of the unit to assess the progress made at achieving that goal set forth. Pretty amazing, this allows each student to be held responsible for his/her learning throughout the school year. With this expectation comes and expectation for the teacher to as well set a standard for themselves. So, the teacher must post somewhere in the classroom his/her expectations as a teacher for themselves. This allows the teacher to model to the students how to strive after and achieve goals set forth! I love this model and definitely plan on using it in my own classroom!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Test Coming Up

Ok, so it has been awhile since I have posted something! I have been ubber (yes I used ubber) busy with studying for my test! I feel overwhelmed and prepared all at the same time.

Well, I have a mildly amusing incident that happened today at school... I was subbing in Mrs. Medoza's 5th grade classroom for the second time this year. The first time happened to be about 3 weeks ago. During my first time in the classroom she had me show the movie "Winn Dixie" for about an hour. The movie is about two hours, so I assumed they were going to finish the movie the next day. Well, I walked in this morning to find that the kids would be seeing the second part of the movie with me today. So, when the time came for me to a movie.. I announced, "Please put your math books away, and direct your attention to the back of the room towards the TV we are going to watch a movie for the next hour." I suddenly hear a burst of cheering.. (which I was a bit offended.. I certainly thought my teaching was more amusing, but to each their own.) So, I put the DVD in and Winn Dixie pops up... A very "loud" kid in the class raises his hand, and says... "I'm confused Mrs. Payne we watched this the last time you were here... is this your favorite movie? If you like I can bring one of my favorite movies the next time you teach us." I literally burst out laughing, because he said it so matter of fact.. It was awesome!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Marijuana anyone?

Ok, so some of you may be waiting for me to write about my experience with confiscating Marijuana from a kid. Well, here is the story: I opened my door to the classroom to let everyone in, and all of a sudden I smelled a skunk. However, that skunk smell went away so I realized the smell was pot. So, I sweetly went up to the front of the room and said, "When I opened the door it smelled like pot, so I don't care who it is or why you have it but I strongly suggest you get rid of it." This kid in the back started laughing and said, "I'm sorry" and threw it in the trash... hahahahah CLASSIC. I didn't know he would have actually thrown it away.. it was funny!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Electoral College

Ok... so today I studied the Electoral College. For some of you this may be a relatively easy concept to comprehend. For me, it poses a bit more of a challenge. I can still remember my Senior year of High School when this lovely voting concept was being taught to me and my very thought being, "This guy is talking and I'm pretty sure my brain is supposed to understand the words however, my brain is rejecting the words." So with that been said I thought hey 5 1/2 years later I would now understand it... hmmm I thought wrong. So after about a half hour of diligent reading and research, and 2 phone calls to a friend and husband who are passionate about History... I think I now have the concept. So this is MY understanding of the Electoral College for all of you who may not know what the crud that is. (Please note this is MY understanding)...

The Electoral College is the USA's standard of voting. So each state has a certain number of Electoral votes. California for example has 55. Each of those votes are split up into "districts." So, the popular votes are counted and put into one of the "districts" based on where you live. So La Mirada is in the (30th District). With that information I can deduce that my "popular vote" goes towards the 30th district in California. If my District decides to vote Republican then there will be 1 of 55 Republican "electoral votes" for California. If my District decides to vote Democratic then there will be 1 of 55 Democratic "electoral votes" for California. A Candidate wins a State by receiving the most "electoral votes" Whew... and there you go!