Tuesday, September 30, 2014

So Many Careers


Well, yesterday I introduced the kids to the Future is NOW project, and it was met with a great response.  I gave the kids their questionnaires, and after they were finished, I gave them a rundown of how the rest of the year is going to play out.  And, I have to say I was very excited by their excitement and enthusiasm about the idea.

Once I collected all of the papers and wrote down their job choices, I ended up with 20 different professions that the kids had selected.  I had lots of interest in police officers, the military, firefighters, doctors, nurses, teachers, and athletes.  There were also some that I didn't expect like water tank builder, chef, and security guards.  It was very amusing to read some of the things the kids knew about the jobs and some of the stuff they wanted to know.

One student wrote he was interested in learning more about being a security guard.  He wrote that he knew they wore tuxedos and sunglasses all of the time, and they don't talk.  He wanted to learn more about why they don't talk.  Using my context clues, I realized he wasn't talking about a regular security guard... he was interested in Secret Service.  That will be fun to learn about.  

Another student wrote that she was interested in learning more about being a nurse.  She wrote she knew that they took people to rooms, but she wanted to know more about what they do when they get to the rooms.  

Yet another wrote about wanting to learn more about the people that build the giant water towers.  He knew they built them, but he wanted to know how they build them and how the water gets in there.  

I was so impressed by the level of curiosity I had at my fingertips, and so excited by their enthusiasm with completing the questions.  

Thankfully I had two students who gave me the professions I wanted to start off with:  Vet and farmer.  Being that we're reading Charlotte's Web, I think it will be great to tie in professions that work with animals.  Thanks to the nurse's assistant at school, I think I may have a connection in getting a vet to come in and talk to the kids.  I think that will be awesome.  

Not only that, but I have already started reaching out to our school's police officer, and he's going to try and help me with getting the SWAT team to come in and see the class.  My fantastic assistant superintendent gave me a connection to a military person to come in.  And, my school nurse is next on the list for me to hit up to help me out. 

I told the kids that I wanted to dress up for each of the occupations, and how they'd have to wait until Monday mornings to find out what the next assignment would be.  They thought that was an amazing idea, even more so when I told them that they'd get to join in for the rest of the week.  I have quite a task in hand when it comes to dressing up, though.  I noticed one student had wrote "Ballerina" on her paper... not sure I'll be able to pull that one off.  Well, I could, but nobody needs or wants to see that!  I will also have to condense a little, like adding all of my athletes in together.  I think it will be a lot better to do a sports week, rather than try and do a week for football players, a week for baseball players, and a week for soccer players.  

Which reminds me - if anyone I know has any items that could help me with dressing up PLEASE let me know.  I need all the help I can get.  It's going to get rather costly to buy all the supplies I will need.. but if anyone knows where I can borrow some uniforms, I'd be forever grateful.

Yesterday, during our library time, the kids all checked out a book about a job they're interested in that they are required to read this week and present about on Friday.  I have never seen my class so eager to check out books before.  They were all sharing about what job they wanted to read about, and I couldn't get them to put the books down once we got back to class.  It.  Was.  Awesome!

Even though we haven't started with a career yet, I told the kids that this week's focus is on school and how important school is.  I am having a couple of Jr. high kids come and talk to the class today or tomorrow.  But, yesterday, we discussed how important note taking was in the upper grades and in college.  I showed them my college notebook.  We learned about the word "initiative", and how it's vital for school success.  

I tried a little experiment with them to test their initiative.  On Mondays, we take our spelling pretest.  Usually, I grade them and give them back so that they can write their missed words on their spelling contracts.  Yesterday, though, I told them to start working on their missed word list BEFORE I handed back their graded pretest.  I told them that I wanted them to read through the spelling list and see if they can recognize words they don't understand the meaning of, or knew they didn't spell right.  I was utterly shocked to see the kids scan and study those lists and write down words they knew they didn't know.  I expected some kids to just write all the words down, and try and impress me.  And I expected some kids to write a couple down, thinking that would get them out of some work.  

Well it goes to show how much I know.  Almost every student wrote down the exact words that they missed on their pretest, and a couple more or less.  I had some kids tell me that they knew they could spell a couple of the words, but didn't really know what they meant.. so they added them to their contract.  I had some kids who got the words right on their pretest but had written some of the words on their contract because they said they guessed how to spell them, and they may not guess right on Friday when they're taking the post test.  I had a couple of kids who knew how to spell pretty much all the words, and knew it, and then asked if they could add the bonus words to their contracts (usually something I don't ask them to do).  

Goes to show what a little push of initiative can do, huh?

During math, I had the kids focus on note taking, and they did a practice assignment in their notebooks to use for reference.  It was amazing to see them writing down the vocabulary words and the definitions, making little notes in the margins on how they got the answer, and hashing out a word problem with different pictures and notes on how they could solve it.  They were all very impressed (as was I) when we went over the assignment and almost every student got every problem right.  The same can be said during our science time when we were studying for the test that will happen today.  We discussed that students in the upper grades and college students spend a lot of time studying for tests, but their teachers usually don't hand out study guides.  We discussed how the students in those grades are responsible for coming up with their own study guides.  So, we spent some time going over some of the important information a study guide might have, and they then got to work on making one.  Once again, I was floored by the way they used their glossary to look up vocabulary, how they made notes and wrote down definitions, and how they wrote down main concepts from the chapter (like what a sample food chain looked like).  

All in all, it was a FANTASTIC day.  I left feeling happy and excited.  I had a pep in my step and enthusiasm for watching this idea grow in to something amazing for my students.  And most importantly, we all had fun.  

Watching their little eyes widen with excitement was the highlight of my day.  There's something very magical about seeing sixteen pairs of eyes look at me with excitement and curiosity.  It's even more magical when those sixteen pairs of eyes are focused, motivated, and eager to learn.  It's almost as if those eyes are capable of sending me superpowers, because every time I was met with those eyes, I felt like I could accomplish anything.  There's nothing more motivating or invigorating than having the entire class hooked on every word that comes out of my mouth, and them in a buzzed frenzy about how excited they are to come back to school every day.  

One of the most powerful moments of the day happened when I spoke with a student who's had a few struggles over the past few weeks.  It got to the point where I had to sit him by himself.  He is not a bad kid, the opposite in fact.  He's a great kid, he just gets a little too distracted and unfocused sitting with other students.  Well, yesterday I told him I'd like to try sitting him with his table again.  You know what he said "Please don't move me.  I work harder when I sit by myself.  Unless you want me to move back, then I will just try even harder to work hard while I'm sitting with them."  Kleenexes anyone?  

How do you respond to something as powerful as that?  I told him that I was going to leave the decision up to him.  That he has the initiative to know where the best place is for him to sit, and whenever he feels like he's ready to move back... he can make that decision.  He gave me a big smile and thanked me.  

And THAT folks, is why I have the absolute, hands down, best job in the entire world.  From one little day of being the teacher I was born to be, I can walk away feeling the power of my actions.  My kids will learn, they will enjoy learning, and it will impact their lives.  That's why I do what I do... it's not about the teaching, it's about empowering the students to want to learn.  And that is what I'm going to do.  We're going to have a ton of fun doing it, too.

Have an AMAZING day, everyone!!


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