Intro to Education has given me a wonderful opportunity to observe a second grade classroom. However it was not just any second grade classroom, it was the very same classroom at Chippewa Elementary School with the very same teacher I had 11 years ago. As soon as these field hours were assigned I knew exactly where I wanted to go and who I wanted to observe. Ms. Clancy, a John Carroll alumni, has been in the field of early childhood education for many years now and I feel as if she is very good at what she does. She is good with working with the kids, being creative, disciplining when needed and so on. So from 9:30-11:30 each week I had the pleasure with working with Ms. Clancy.
From the very moment I walked into the classroom on October 28th I noted that the classroom was predominantly white with one asian, two indians, and no african americans. That is very typical of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights School District as it is predominantly white and suburban area. The classroom was filled with bright colors, crafts, and kids that were ready to learn. The students had a typical morning routine in which they would clean out their desks, listen to the morning announcements over the speaker and then start their learning. On this day Ms. Clancy started the class off with a Halloween-themed poetry activity, as Halloween was right around the corner. The students read along to each poem and all actively participated. Following poetry came math in their workbook. Ms. Clancy did a few problems with the class on the board and then had them try it on their own. Whenever the students had a question they would flag down either me or Ms. Clancy. Ms. Clancy put me to work from the very start of my time at Chippewa, but I really enjoyed having the opportunity to actually work with and connect with the kids. Following math class came music class with Mrs. Ferguson, my old music teacher from when I attended Chippewa. Mrs. Ferguson works very well with the kids because she is a very sweet lady who is very passionate about music and is able to connect with the kids. The kids all participated in Halloween music activities, listened to Halloween songs, and danced! It was a good way for them to let out all of their hyper energy and they even asked me to participate along with them. They were all very excited and got into the activities. Following music it was time to get ready for lunch, meaning that my time was up. However, from the moment that I walked into the classroom some of the young girls grew an immediate attachment to me. Throughout the day they would come up to me and hug me, give me compliments, ask me questions about myself and so on. So when it came time for me to leave these girls all came up and hugged me. I had a very good first day at Chippewa Elementary School and it made me glad that I chose to come back and do my field hours there.
Throughout my next four visits to Chippewa I noted the repetitive morning routine of cleaning out desks, listening to the morning announcements and going over their morning lesson. Everyday started out with either an english or math lesson. Occasionally the guidance counselor would come in and teach a lesson that dealt with being respectful of others. The lessons also gave the students an opportunity to move around and get out of their seats. They would look at pictures of different facial expressions and were asked to describe them, they would work with partners and would be given scenarios and had to work together to figure out how to handle them, and so on. Aside from these lessons the students were also given the opportunity to be creative in the classroom. Ms. Clancy had them participate in many different crafts, some of which I did when I was in her class 11 years ago. Around Thanksgiving time the students were working on a poem that they were going to recite for the first graders: “My Turkey Shot out of the Oven”. They were each given a line to the poem that they were going to say and even made festive turkey hats to wear during their presentation. They practiced the poem over and over again and really got into their line by adding a lot of expression. Each student is given a chance to be the “star of the week”. Every week one student is chosen to present on themselves and their interests. Sebastian was the star of the week that I got to hear about. Sebastian talked about where he lived, his favorite color, his favorite food, what he wants to be when he grows up, his family and so on. Following his talk the other students of the class had an opportunity to ask him follow-up questions. It amazed me how many questions that the students were able to come up with. It showed how interested they were and that they wanted to hear more about their classmate. I think that incorporating a star of the week in a classroom is a good idea because it gives each student a chance to be recognized. On my last day the students were given new seats. New seats meant new teams. Ms. Clancy has the desks arranged in groups of 4 or 5 and that would be considered their team. Each team had to think of a creative team name for themselves. They took some time and discussed interests that they shared about winter and turned it into a name. One name I recall was the “hot chocolate snow fort builders”. The students in this group all liked to drink hot chocolate and build snow forts. Ms. Clancy does a nice job of incorporating both education and creativity, as they work hand in hand at this age level. The kids were also given a chance to be creative in music class. Each week they would play music-related games, dance, and even had the chance to demonstrate their talents. Once every few weeks they have a talent day, in which a few students volunteer to show their musical ability to the class. Kids played the piano, sang, and danced for the class. One performance that stood out to me was one of the girls in the class, Whitney, played a rather complicated piece from “Beauty and the Beast” and it was phenomenal. I was in awe by her performance and she is going to grow up to become a talented musician if she sticks with it. On my last day there the students watched “The Nutcracker” in class. They all found a spot on the carpet to lay down and quietly watched the movie. I was very surprised by how quiet they were and how well they listened to the movie because this class is typically filled with movement and activities. In general throughout my time at Chippewa Elementary School I noted many different ways in which creativity was used in the classroom and I was very happy to see that.
Not everything was always smooth sailing in the classroom of Ms. Clancy. Second graders are still young and have a lot of energy. One student, Lydia, grew an immediate attachment to me. Throughout the class time she would get up to hug me or compliment me and I would have to tell her nicely to take her seat. Lydia also had a tendency to act up in class. She would talk out loud without raising her hand and not listen to instructions frequently. I feel as if teacher will almost always have a student (or students) like this and it is important to know how to handle them. Ms. Clancy does a very good job with it because she is stern, yet nice. Lydia has received many behavior warnings during my field hours. However she wasn’t the only one who received warnings. Sometimes the whole class would get one because none of them would follow directions. One example I recall was during the time that they had to move desks. They had to physically move their entire desk, so Ms. Clancy asked them to do it one person at a time in order to avoid chaos. That did not work out the way she hoped it would as the students immediately grew eager and started moving their desks all at one. Ms. Clancy had to get pretty stern with them to get them to stop, but they listened after that moment. In general, sometimes the class would get pretty loud and could not sit still during the lesson and it is important to know how to handle it.
Ms. Clancy put me to work right away during my field hours. She started me off with going around the room and answering questions when needed. I did this a lot during their math lesson since they were learning subtraction and seemed to have a hard time grasping the concept. I felt that once it was explained to them they were able to understand it. There were occasions when a few of the students got every (or almost every) question wrong on their math homework. When that would happen, Ms. Clancy would have me pull them out into the hallway individually and work with them. I really enjoyed doing this because I felt as if I was actually helping them and teaching them how to subtract, so I found it to be very rewarding. However it was not always easy. As stated earlier sometimes it was hard to get their attention and they would get off topic. I had to redirect them on multiple occasions to work on what they were supposed to be doing. Once they got back on track and focused on the problems, it clicked for them and they flew through it. They were able to go back into the classroom happy with their progress. Ms. Clancy also had me take the all of the girls out into the hallway and read them a story. I had to pause reading multiple times to regain their attention. They would get upset when other girls took their seat or if they couldn’t see the illustrations in the story. Getting through the story took a long time but each time I feel as if I did a pretty good job with redirecting their attention. Working with the students and being able to help them out was a very rewarding feeling and I am glad that she had me participating throughout the lesson.My field hours reflected on what we learned in Intro to Education. In class we have talked about different school environments such as inner-city and suburban. I have always pictured myself working at a suburban school, like Chippewa, because I feel as if I would have an easier time relating to those students. We have done field hours in class in more inner-city areas and although I enjoyed it, it did not feel right to me. Going back to Chippewa reassured me that that is the type of setting I can see myself in. Another thing that we discussed in class is a student’s home life. If a child is acting out in class, it is important to talk to them and not just jump to conclusions about them. It is possible that they are going through a rough time at home. This reminded me of Lydia. Lydia frequently acted out in class and it made me wonder if there was something going on that I did not know about. These things are very important to know as they need to be handled properly. Another important thing that we talked about was the greatness in teaching. I feel as if there are many different aspects that come into play when describing its greatness. From a personal standpoint the most important aspect to me would be building relationships between the students and the teachers. Ms. Clancy has developed a great relationship with her class. She knows about the things going on in their home life, she knows their interests, and she knows how to communicate with them. These are some of the qualities that make her such a great teacher. I admire her teaching style and connection with her students. Chapter 3 in our book asked the question “why teach?” After doing these field hours I got a better idea of how to answer this question. I believe that adding creativity into the classroom is essential as learning should be fun. I know that I want to go into early childhood education and students are still forming in their personalities and behaviors at this point. I want to be able to have a positive impact on students. I want one of my students to come back to my classroom 11 years later and ask me if they can do field hours in my classroom, as I did with Ms. Clancy. I can see myself fulfilling a career in early childhood education and teachers like Ms. Clancy are role models to me.