Posted in Miscellaneous

Internship Q&A

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of BYU Practicum students in the Jordan School District. They had a lot of great questions. I thought I would share some of their questions and a few of my responses…

Q: How did you decide to intern?
A: I absolutely loved my practicum experiences where I got to teach in another teacher’s classroom and implement someone else’s management plan. By the time my practicum experiences were over, I felt ready to implement my own management plan and create my own classroom environment.

Q: What surprised you the most this year?
A: I didn’t realize quite how many decisions would be mine to make. It was exciting, but also overwhelming at first! For example, making a seating chart, deciding what accommodations to make for students, etc. I was also very pleasantly surprised at how willing my grade level team was to help and share resources with me.

Q: What were internship interviews like?
A: Interviews were during my second practicum experience. I showed up at the Jordan District Office, along with a few other intern candidates. We sat at a table with our CFAs and they gave us a list of some of the questions we might be asked. They gave us advice on how to answer each question. Then, we all sat in the front of a room filled with the Principals and Facilitators of each of the BYU partnership schools in the district. Since I had completed both of my practicum experiences and my TELL student teaching experience in Jordan District, I knew more than half of the people in the room. The Human Resources director asked us a few questions and we each answered them. The questions helped them get to know us. After that, we each got to go in that same room one by one. He asked us different questions, these ones were more about specific experiences from our practicum experiences. The people in the room took notes. Each of us went back to our practicum schools for the rest of the day. Later that afternoon, our BYU liaison called and offered us positions at each school.

Q: How much time did you spend planning at the beginning? How much time do you spend planning now?
A: I spent a lot of time planning at the beginning of my internship. I remember a lot of us interns were very concerned at the beginning about how much time it took to plan. Over time, I have  come up with a good system for planning that makes it much quicker. Thankfully, that’s how it has been with grading, contacting parents, sending out newsletters, etc. It has all gotten faster over time.

Q: How did you decide which district to intern in?
A: I did a lot of research about each district before I even had to choose my practicum districts. All of the BYU Partnership districts are awesome. There are certain things that set each one apart from the others though. I chose Jordan District for many reasons. First, they are very professional, have high expectations (which I think is only fair to students), are making positive changes in education, are a good size district (others are much bigger or much smaller) and I love the community in that area. I completed both of my practicum experiences in Jordan District. I would highly recommend completing both of your practicums in the same district if you’re set on one from the beginning. If you’re not set on one district, it can be good to do your practicum experiences in two different experiences and then choose your favorite one to intern in.

Q: Do you regret your decision to intern?
A: Definitely not! I have learned so much this year and have had so much support, especially from my facilitator.

Q: Did you get rehired at your same school?
A: Yes! I will be teaching 1st grade and I can’t wait!

If you have any other questions about the Elementary Education Internship experience, feel free to comment below!

Posted in Miscellaneous

Building a Classroom Library

The summer before my internship, I had a very long list of things that needed to be done before school started. One of my priorities was finding a large quantity of high quality children’s books for my classroom. I turned to a friend who is an experienced thrift shopper. She gave me a lot of great suggestions! Here are some of them…

Thrift Stores

I found some local thrift stores that have great book sales! You do have to be careful because lots of thrift stores try to make you believe that a $1 book is a good deal, when you can find much better deals than that! There are thrift stores that take about 10 books and wrap them in cellophane and sell them for less than a dollar! If I saw 2 or 3 books that I recognized as high quality literature, I would buy the whole package! The same store had different colored tags that went on sale each day of the week. I figured out what days were the best sales and went and found books with the daily deal tag on them. Also, be sure to mention that you’re a first year teacher because they will give you much better deals! 😉

Used Book Sale at the Public Library

Many public libraries have book sales. Be sure to check the books for major damage before you buy them though! They tend to sell books that are too worn to lend.

Scholastic Book Fair

The Scholastic Book Fair comes to my school for Parent Teacher Conferences. This year, the PTA had each teacher make a stack of “Wish List” books. Whenever someone from your class checked out at the book fair, they would encourage parents to donate a book to their child’s class. I think half of my class did! Parents are so incredibly generous!  Students got to write their name on the inside of the book, saying that they donated it to Miss Hinckley’s Class.

Scholastic Book Club (Scholastic Flyers)

The parents of my students love ordering from the Scholastic flyers that I send home every other month. They consistently order and we consistently get free books for our class! Whenever a book order comes in, students love to share what books they ordered with the class! If you save up your parent orders until the end of the month, teachers earn lots of bonus points (which help you earn lots of free books!)!

Summer Used Book Sales at Schools

There was a sale at a school near my home. I happened to show up right as they were cleaning everything up. When the lady in charge heard that I was a first year teacher, she told me to take any books I wanted for FREE! They were going to be taking everything left to Deseret Industries afterward. Be sure to check for damaged books before you buy them at these sales too!

BYU Partnership Book Collection

My school had a collection of books for interns that I split with the other intern at my school. It really helped!

Some final tips would be to start early and don’t be afraid to be picky! There’s plenty of high quality literature  out there-and for awesome prices too! Happy shopping!

Posted in Miscellaneous

TESOL Minor and TELL Student Teaching

When I was starting classes in the Elementary Education program, the TESOL Minor was required. That has since changed and it is no longer required, but I wanted to share my TELL student teaching experience and how it prepared me for my internship.

Once I had finished all the TELL courses (TELL 400, 410, 420, 430, 440, and 450), the last thing I had to do to earn my ESL endorsement was complete my TELL student teaching (TELL 477R). I completed it the spring term before my internship. I honestly had no idea what to expect with TELL student teaching, so here’s a sneak peek!

Since I had just been hired as an intern in Jordan District, they placed in me in a Jordan District school to complete my TELL student teaching. I was assigned to Riverside Elementary School in Mrs. McAllister’s 2nd grade class with another BYU student. I had previously been placed in 1st grade for K-2 practicum experience and 6th grade for my 3-6 practicum experience, so I had never really worked with 2nd graders before. It was great to have an idea of the age and abilities of the students in my class, especially since I was pondering what procedures I would put in place in my own classroom in a short month or two. Mrs. McAllister actually taught one class in the morning and another class in the afternoon as part of the Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program at the school. I had the opportunity to work with many native Spanish speakers! I had one case study student who I worked with in a guided reading group. We had so much fun! We used Coyote and Rabbit as a readers’ theater script. The students recorded themselves at the end… they loved it!  

As you learn in TELL courses, especially TELL 440, Multiple Simultaneous Diverse Learning Activities (MSDLAs) are learning activities that integrate content and language instruction. Part of TELL student teaching is creating a set of MSDLAs for a specific unit in the class you’re working with and then using them! My partner and I created MSDLAs for Mrs. McAllister’s unit on the Night Sky.

They were a lot of work, but it was a great learning experience! We made changes from day to day as we used them to teach two different classes. My partner and I learned a lot about what 2nd graders can do and we have both used them to teach our classes as interns. My TELL experience taught me not only how to work with English Language Learners and their families, but it taught me how good practices that are good for all learners!

Posted in Miscellaneous

Christmas in the Classroom

Merry Christmas!

Christmas in 2nd grade was so much fun! I was not quite prepared for all the Christmas festivities that take place in a classroom before Christmas, but it was a blast! I was really grateful for the members of my grade level team and their willingness to share their tried-and-true Christmas ideas with me.

Parent Gifts

We made these festive wreath ornaments with a couple simple ingredients, including Ditalini pasta, Bowtie pasta, rubbing alcohol, green cardstock, hot glue, red ribbon, and lots of Elmer’s glue! We put this year’s school pictures in the middle. Students wrote their first name and the year on the back in green Sharpie (in their cute 2nd  grade handwriting!).

They included a handwritten letter to their parents with the ornament. We packaged them in brown paper bags that we decorated to look like reindeer and little gift tags. My students were so happy with how they turned out!

Christmas Around the World

Part of the Social Studies core in 2nd grade is learning about traditions. So, during rotations time (gym, art, computers, music) the two weeks before Christmas, students got to visit several different countries in a Christmas Around the World rotation. This year, students visited Hungary, Sweden, Italy, Mexico, and Austria!

Polar Express Day

The 2nd grade team puts together a whole day of Polar Express activities connected to the core. Students wear their pajamas and bring a stuffed animal to school. They get their own Polar Express ticket that gets punched at each “stop”. They also received their own bell. At the end of the day, we had a hot chocolate bar (put together by one of the parents) and watched the Polar Express movie. Students loved it!

Christmas Assemblies

There were many school-wide Christmas festivities, as well. There was a 4th grade program, a sing-a-long, and a Christmas program where each grade performed a Christmas song. The teachers prepared a flash mob dance to Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe” that we performed at the final Christmas program. It was so much fun!

What holiday traditions will you have in your future classroom?