Home Visits for Spanish Speaking Families

Today I was able to go on home visits for families, which are so important to any school. Home visits help teachers understand the child’s home life and environment. Teachers are able to see the child’s physical living environment from pets to the neighborhood they live in. Last year I went on home visits with the Early Head Start where I interned. In that home we saw how involved the siblings were with teaching their little brother and how proud they were of his accomplishments. He was working on saying the word “hot,” with their help. Their house truly enacted Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development where the siblings were gradually helping their younger brother to do tasks that he previously could not do. This year on a home visit we learned the mother sewed which would be a great skill to bring into the classroom. As you can see, more facts are learned on home visits about students than in just classroom conferences.

However, today’s home visits were different as they were with families who spoke primarily Spanish. I’ve had 3 years of Spanish through UNC, so I knew some of what the parents were saying. We did not have a translator on the trip, so I had to serve as a sort of translator between the teacher and the families. I read the Spanish questions and interpreted the responses from the parents. It was a little difficult as they often talked faster than I could understand, but often we worked together. I translated the teacher’s responses or gave her extra words, and I translated what the parents were saying to the teacher. I was able to tell the parent about the day their child would start school and when the busses would run. I was also able to communicate to my teacher that one child gets sick frequently. At this point, I’m extremely thankful I took Spanish versus any other language (except one semester of Chinese) as it was so useful today and will be useful in my future classrooms. I can’t wait to start conversing with the children when we start school tomorrow!

Human Resources Meetings

The past two times I have been at my student teaching internship have been spent in Human Resources meetings. After leading plenty of meetings last summer and helping decide the policies that my staff would have to adhere to, I can honestly say that I had a lot more respect for the leaders of the meeting than I ever would have before. There is so much give and take in meetings, what others want and what the speaker hopes to accomplish with their rule. Setting out a new policy or rule is never easy; there is almost always someone who has an opinion or believes they are the one unique exception to the rule. I enjoyed the opportunity to watch someone else handle those situations for a change. From these past few meetings I had a few take-away points, specifically:

  1. No reptiles for the classroom as kids have incredibly sensitive immune systems and could easily get sick.
  2. Modeling words and positive behavior are so important when working with children. Every interaction you have is important.

I figured I would sign off today with a few quotes we have been told the past few days.

“Teachers plan the lessons they give, buy the materials they use, allocate the time they have, say the things they say, treat children the way they do, evaluate the way they evaluate, reward and punish the way they do, and so on because of what they believe about the way learning occurs and how it can be brought about.”

Cambourne, 1988

This year we are learning how to teach, what our vision should be and how to bring it to fruition. While I have a million ideas, I am so excited to be able to process them all through student teaching.

And finally:

“As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.”

Ginott, H.G. (1972). Teacher and child: A book for parents and teachers. New York: Collier Books, pp. 15-16.

Student Teaching-The Beginning

I’ve watched quite a few people in my life student teacher from cousins to friends, and I’ve even had a few student teachers in my classroom. However, I know it will be so different when I student teach as I will no longer be watching others. Instead, I will be actively participating in teaching students new topics and I will be responsible for ensuring they learn. To say I’m excited, nervous, and anxiously awaiting my chance would be an understatement. I’ve always loved working with kids, from nannying in high school, helping with the local library’s summer reading program, and helping lead Vacation Bible School. When I graduated high school, I automatically became a sleepaway camp counselor, and then progressed through the ranks of many different YMCA jobs (afterschool, swim lessons, KinderCamp Director) and different camps and until eventually I had the chance to be an admin at the camp. Throughout the summer I made a lot of the decisions that affected both the campers and my staff, it was a great learning experience that I will treasure forever. Last semester, I even interned for an Early Head Start and helped in their classrooms. As you can see, I’ve had so many opportunities to work with kids but never as a student teacher which is why this will be the best journey of all as it will hopefully lead to my final journey—being a teacher. I can’t wait to see what this school year holds and how it will all unfold!

Attached are a few photos from the last two summers where I’ve loved every minute, even the crazy ones that camp holds.

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Summer 2013--For the Kids Cheerleader

Summer 2013–For the Kids Cheerleader. Summer 2013–For the Kids Cheerleader

Summer 2014--Pulled on stage for a talent show.

Summer 2014–Pulled on stage for a talent show.