Fingers Crossed

I found out that all three of my references got calls from HR. They each in their own way said if the job is being determined based on references then I am a shoe-in because their review was fabulous. And I cried. Yes, I know that my references are supposed to sing my praises. Something about my dream district calling them and hearing those praises made me teary eyed. I feel like I am another step closer. Fingers crossed that they find all the resume and reference stuff up to standards and I hear from them soon.

Second Interview

So I went to my second interview with the HR Department on Friday.  This one I felt very confident leaving. They did ask for some additional information from my program and university, which I requested the moment I got home. Unfortunately, that takes time and I am stuck in a waiting pattern until they produce the needed items. I am fairly confident that they would not be asking for so much if they were not leaning towards hiring me. So, I am taking this as a positive sign. One thing that is still a tad anxiety filling is that I still don’t know what grade level(s) they are considering me for at this point. During my first interview, one of the panel members mentioned that they had been given a glowing review for me working with older grades due to my tech skills-so I have a feeling I will be either upper elementary (3-5) or extending into middle school (6).

Stay tuned for updates…

First Interview

On Friday, I went in for my first real (non-student teaching/intern style) interview for a teaching position. It has been a while since I interviewed for any job, not to mention, interviewing for my dream job at my dream district.

Prep I did: I researched the district, even though I student taught in it, to make sure I was familiar with the whole picture. I practiced my answers to lots of common questions that I found online. I did a lot of positive self-talk. I applied for the two listings that covered TK-5th. Before my first interview, the HR contact asked if I would be willing to consider 6th as there is someone who has a slot that they have not found the right fit (after tons of candidates), I said yes because this IS my dream district.

Reflections on prep I did not do:  I regret not going out to recruitment fairs for places beyond my target regions. There were several earlier this year that I got word of and opted against attending since they were way beyond my commute range. I was wrong. My advice, drive beyond your target range early. Attend as many walk-in recruitment interview opportunities as possible so you get to practice, that way when your dream or even just second choice districts call for interviews you are prepared, plenty of practice under your belt.


Stay tuned for updates…

Personalized Learning

I found myself thinking about the idea of personalized learning, a popular buzz phrase in education these days. South Carolina is making a big push statewide on the idea of personalized learning, something I enjoy reading about. What is personalized learning? I think I could write a whole series on this idea but for today I will stick to a simpler break down. The four pillars of personalized learning: learner profiles, personalized learning paths, student ownership and flexible learning environments.

  1. Learner Profiles
    1. We need to understand who they are, what their ability levels are, what motivates them and what their goals are in order to truly support their individualized success
  2. Personal Learning Paths
    1. We must hold all students to high expectations which are clearly communicated to them and their families.
    2. Those expectations are based on their individual learner profiles (learning progress, motivations, goals, strengths, and needs)-they are custom fit, not cookie cutter.
    3. This means students are regularly and continually assessed to determine competency level. Once competency is demonstrated they advance/earn credit/move onward/etc.
  3. Student Ownership
    1. Students have a voice in their own education, they are empowered but also held accountable.
    2. They know what they are doing and why every step of the way.
  4. Flexible Learning Environments
    1. Different students learn and grow in different ways, Adaptive
    2. Student’s needs are the deciding factor, they are given the time, space, materials and support to succeed.
      1. Time and Support allocations include direct instruction and teacher time activities: 1-1 student consultations, small group instruction, whole class mini-lessons-how much time, how long and how frequent
      2. Space: How can we maximize the space that we have for the maximum function for the students?
      3. Group & Collaboration: How should students be grouped? This could encompass bridging grade levels for diverse collaborative experiences. As we prepare students for the “real-world” having them work with a variety of team-mates prepares them to face real-world diversity in skill and communication levels present in adult society.

I find personalized learning to be an exciting prospect, especially when combined with technology. Researching the idea of adaptive personalized blended learning programs is one of the things driving my summer to do list (that, learning to code and submitting my TPAs).

Second Placement Done!

I managed to get a post in a week even during my second placement for student teaching. Woohoo!  I am pretty proud of myself.

I have learned so much from this placement. I feel like every time I turned around there was a little tip here or idea there. My master teacher was just amazing. Hands down, everything I could have ever wanted and more. There is no way I can repay her for all that she has done for me. I can only hope to pay it forward someday and be a mentor to someone else.

I hadn’t worked in this district prior to student teaching (something I may have mentioned my post about getting on sub-lists). Now I am so thankful that I branched out. It was an amazing experience. During my time I discovered fantastic grade level teams that were supportive and collaborative both within their team and with other grade levels. I got to see a healthy and positive school culture that was supported by staff, administration, teachers, and parents. The PTA really blew me away, so amazing to witness all the cool things they add to the school for students and teachers alike.

I am taking June off master’s courses to focus on the one thing I have left to get my credential. My TPA’s are now my focus which means I may take a bit of a break. Don’t worry, I will be back to celebrate turning them in. Until next time…

Letters of Recommendation

I suggest that you ask early in student teaching for letters. Realize that everyone you are working with from your master teacher, grade level team, faculty advisor, professors, and administrators are all possible letter sources. Ask early, they have busy schedules of their own.

At my first placement, I had a meeting with the principal before I ever started to introduce myself as suggested by my University Advisor. I encourage you to do the same to get to know them and the school. They know you need letters, asking for one isn’t going to shock them. While in this meeting, let them know that you are interested in having them come out and observe a lesson so that they can write you an honest letter of recommendation.

If you are checking out multiple schools for possible placements I suggest talking with the administration about letters right at the start. Obviously, they need to see you in action but it is important to make sure they don’t have a blanket policy against writing letters for student teachers. Yes, that is a thing I have come across. If the administration denies all letter requests before ever seeing a student teacher in action, I suggest finding a different school. Teachers regularly need letters from administrators to apply for jobs and if all your placements were at schools with an auto “No.” policy then you might be in a hard place for finding a job.

That all being said, admins are busy people with quite a bit on their plate so if they aren’t able to write you a letter don’t fret. Ask your master teacher, your professors, your academic advisor and even just a status letter from your university about your expected graduation and recommendation dates. And never underestimate the influence of just word of mouth. If you really like a school or district, let them know it.


My first Breakout

I created a Digital Breakout for my second-grade students to review all of the concepts they learned this year in Math. I was so excited to try making my very first breakout style game after running physical locks one with my fifth-grade placement. After trying a digital style and physical locks both, I think I would prefer a physical style. Maybe just a digital lock or two for more complex puzzles with older students. However, the students loved it. They said it was the best party day they ever had (which is awesome since this was a lesson before we got to our afternoon party). I included a script on the project page for people to see how to move through the game since they do not have all the materials. Now I just need to wrangle it all together and submit it to an actual Digital Breakout site so people can run it themselves without having to re-create the materials.