“[Kids] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
~Jim Henson


Build Rapport With Students
One of the most important aspects of being a teacher is building good rapport with students. Without this great relationship, students will not be receptive of instruction, discipline, or the curriculum. Throughout my time student teaching, I worked to build a good rapport with students. Throughout my practicum, I tried to build rapport by always making myself available to answer students' questions. I tried to be as helpful as possible without giving away the answers. In addition, I greeted my students with a warm welcome when I was there in the morning.

I also answered questions that my students had about me. They were very curious about who I was and what I did. Therefore I tried to answer questions that they had. One important document that I created to tell both parents and students about who I am is my newsletter that I sent home shortly after I began student teaching. While it was initially designed for communication, it helped build stronger rapport with my students. After I sent the newsletter home, students came and asked me more questions about what I do in my free time and about who I am as a person.

Finally, I had the opportunity to build rapport with one student during my student teaching experience. One assignment was to talk with a student for 2 minutes each day for 10 days. I chose a student who was new to DJ Montague. This gave me the opportunity to meet with my new student and to get to know my new student in a short amount of time. This assignment also created a good relationship between me and the student and therefore I can hold him to the same high expectations that I have for my other students.

Organize the Classroom for Effective Instruction
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To successfully run a classroom, a classroom has to be organized. Organization, I believe leads to optimal learning. Throughout my time in Mrs. Washington's room, I saw the physical arrangement of students' desks change frequently. While she began the year with the students in groups, she changed them to different locations, placed them in rows, and changed the rows. Before I began student teaching, Mrs. Washington decided that it would be a god idea to place the students back in groups. Therefore, she and I worked together to find the perfect place for each student. We took into account how students interact, where the special education students needed to be placed to help the assistant work with them more efficiently, and which students needed extra reinforcement. I decided that the students should be placed in groups of four. However, that changed once we received a new student. We placed the desks and tried out the new system. We soon realized that some students needed to change seats and we rearranged the classroom again. However, we have finally found an arrangement that seems to work. This situation has taught me that as a teacher I have to find the best way to organize students based on what they need and how they interact with each other. I have to always be willing and open to change the arrangement of students' desk to give them the best chance at learning.

In addition, as part of my classroom management class, we had the opportunity to create our own classroom organization plan. Through this assignment, I learned that it is crucial to organize a classroom in a logical manner. Students should have access to materials that they may need throughout the day. My students kept things like scissors, glue sticks, and highlighters in their desk. Loose leaf paper was placed in a stack in a paper container on top of a cabinet. However, there are some obstacles to organizing a classroom as well. For example, my placement classroom has cubbies that cannot be moved. Also, we have to be aware of the A/C unit and the document camera.

Finally, I have to keep myself organized in a classroo
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One of my desk organizers that held my supplies.
m. Classroom management begins with me and if I can keep myself organized, then I can effectively teacher and manage students. I had my own desk in Mrs. Washington's classroom. On my desk I kept a few organizers to hold my supplies I needed along with the school laptop that I had access to during teaching. In addition, I used Mrs. Washington's organization shelf to keep the papers that I needed for each subject. I labeled the stacks of paper to remind myself which day the notes or worksheets were for. This optimal organization helped me more effectively teach throughout my ten week experience.
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Mrs. Washington's shelf that I had access to during student teaching.


Routines and Procedures
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Here is an example of a morning screen that I created for my students.

The only way to have a successful school year and to be a successful teacher is to set up routines and procedures from the beginning of the year. My cooperating teacher did an amazing job setting up routines and procedures that I could easily follow and adapt throughout the year. One of the most important routines that I followed was always creating a morning screen to have for the students. Basic information with the centers for the day and lunch options were always on the screen. Each day students would have morning work to complete. Some days students had to copy or answer their history cards. Other days students had to complete math work or a science worksheet. Regardless of what students had to do, it was important for them to always have some task to complete in the morning to focus their attention.

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During my time as a student teacher, I had the opportunity to create my own procedure and implement it in my classroom. I decided to create a writing process chart for my students and myself to use during our biography unit. I used Popsicle sticks with each students name on the stick to give them some tangible object to move throughout the process. This gave them a sense of accomplishment as they progressed through their writing. I used this chart as a way to gauge how students were doing. If I saw that a student was struggling through the process then I or the paraprofessional could given them one-on-one support. I also used this chart when I was editing my students' biographies. It gave me a way to see who needed to edit and gave me an order in which to edit.


Finally, another assignment that explains how I feel about classroom procedures and which ones that I value is our Classroom Procedures for the first 3 days of school assignment. We had to choose which procedures we would teach during the first three days of school and explain why we would teach those procedures. Since I was placed in a fourth grade assignment, I created my procedures for a fourth grade classroom. I chose routines for how to leave the classroom, how to use items within the classroom, and how to work in small groups. For me, simple, effective routines with clear expectations are the only way to have a classroom run and work smoothly.

Classroom Management Plan

A final important aspect of a classroom is having a specific management plan in place to guide students throughout the year. As part of my classroom management class, I had the opportunity to create a classroom management plan based on specific styles of management. Through this process, I learned that as a new teacher I like to have more control over the classroom. However, while I like to have more control over the classroom, I also want students to have a voice in what specific rules should be followed. A comprehensive analysis of how I would manage my classroom can be found here.

In addition, I have learned from my practicum observations and my student teaching experience to always have high expectations for students. This will force students to always strive to do their best and push themselves to do even better. One important way that my cooperating teacher and I responded to behavior was by sending a weekly report home to parents. This not only created communication on weekly basis with parents but it also gave students feedback on how they did. At times I would write notes on the weekly report explaining the behavior whether it was good or bad. Before spring break, I gave each student positive reinforcement by telling many of the students to 'keep up the good work.' Other times, I would explain that the student was 'unprepared' or 'a little too chatty.' This weekly report was placed in students' purple folder that went home every Thursday. Students were expected to return the folder on Friday with a parent or guardian signature on the bottom portion of the weekly report. This type of communication keeps classroom standards high because many students do not want to disappoint their parents.