Dreams do Come True: Observation Hours @ HHS Part 2

It was a blessing spending an entire school day observing one of my favorite high Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 2.08.51 PMschool teachers. In high school, Mrs. Street was my World History teacher, Economics teacher, and my Student Leadership/Student Council Advisor. As one of her students, Mrs. Street was always someone I thought was a phenomenal teacher. After my day of observation, I’ve learned that what makes her such an incredible educator is her genuine care for her students, her interactive, meaningful lessons, and her inviting, warm, and welcoming classroom culture.

During my day at Holly High School, I observed two classes of 11th grade Economics and two classes of 9th-12th grade Student Leadership. Although I graduated from Holly High School and have already completed a full day of observation there, I did notice some new differences in the students. Observing predominantly upperclassmen students was very different than observing freshmen. These more mature upperclassmen almost found it hard to stay on task and complete the assigned task because they “simply didn’t want to” whereas when I observed freshmen, they just seemed to be confused about the expectations of them, still trying to adapt to high school level courses. Additionally, it was the day of HHS’ Annual Pink Football Game and the students were very lively, especially the leadership students who planned the event, and were excited to get through the day and experience the Pink Game Pep Assembly and the football game later on that night.

HHS Administrators, Mrs. Street, a few leaderships students and I after the Pink Game Pep assembly!

HHS Administrators, Mrs. Street, a few leaderships students and I after the Pink Game Pep assembly!

One aspect that makes Mrs. Street such a phenomenal educator is her adaptability to different learning styles and her ability to engage students. In economics, Mrs. Street utilized independent work time, turn and talk to a partner, and class discussion to ensure she was meeting the needs of all her students. In leadership class, the instruction was completely individual work time so students were able to complete various tasks such as spirit day counting, selling t-shirts, and painting posters. The hands-off teaching in leadership allows students to take control of their learning and leadership experience while Mrs. Street is there to support her students and help when necessary.

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Mrs. Street’s Pinterest-y classroom

If you look up a picture of the perfect classroom, a photo of Mrs. Street’s classroom would most likely appear. Her classroom is one of the warmest, inviting, welcoming classrooms I’ve ever been in. I really loved how all the inspirational quotes and decorations made students feel so at home in her room. Additionally, although you’d expect a classroom with many decorations and even four large comfy chairs to feel cluttered, there was plenty of space to move around and the classroom did not even give off a cluttered vibe. As I saw students become so at home in her room when they entered, I came to the realization that I want to decorate my classroom so it has a warm, welcoming climate where students feel at peace.

My day of observation at Holly High School was a true learning experience. I discovered the difference between freshmen students and upperclassmen students within the classroom and the effect that a large event, such as the Pink Game, can have on students’ learning throughout the day. Additionally, I was reminded that it is essential for students to have lessons that encompass all learning styles and is both relevant and meaningful to them. Also, Mrs. Street’s picture-perfect classroom gave me ideas to make my future classroom as homey and welcoming as hers. I’m grateful for all the lessons I learned throughout my experience observing Mrs. Street and I’m excited to translate these learning experiences into my career as an educator.

President Ross’ Visit to LDR 100

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President George Ross speaking to my LDR 100 class last Monday.

I know what you’re probably thinking:

“You met the president?!?”

Unfortunately, I didn’t meet the President of the United States, however, I did have the privilege to meet Central Michigan University’s President, George Ross. Every year President Ross takes time out of his very busy schedule to meet with the Freshmen Class of Leader Advancement Scholars. For an entire class period, my cohort and I got to hang out with the president of our university, learn more about his background, and ask him questions.

Generally speaking, when I think of a University President, especially of a large university like CMU, I think of some business man who doesn’t necessarily come in contact with students and is more focused on the logistics of the university. However, my after meeting President George Ross, my preconceived notions were completely wrong.

President Ross was an honest, caring individual who puts our success as students as his number one priority. I really appreciated that during our class, he took the time to share his background, his love for CMU, and his views on what leadership means to him. President Ross also set aside a large portion of our class period for questions and answers; he allowed us to ask him any question we wanted, however, in order to do so, we had to say our name, where we’re from, our major, and why we chose CMU. President Ross answered a wide variety of questions from “What’s your favorite part about CMU” to “Who is your biggest inspiration?”

President Ross described CMU as “a university that is big enough to matter and small enough to care” and looking back on last Monday’s LDR 100 class, I feel grateful to attend a large university that cares about our success as students and individuals.

I have not a doubt in my mind that CMU will help me put my stamp on the world.

My LAS Freshman Cohort after our meeting with President Ross

My LAS Freshman Cohort after our meeting with President Ross

Dreams Do Come True: Observation Hours @ HHS

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Mrs. Wheeler and I after my day of observation was complete

Spending an entire day in the classroom with one of my biggest inspirations guiding and encouraging me was an absolute blessing. My day of observations at Holly High School inspired me and allowed me to bring my passion for education into a high school classroom. Spending an entire school day working one-on-one with students and assisting them confirmed my love for teaching and my lifelong dream to become a teacher.

During my day at HHS, I observed four 9th grade classes of Digital Assist, a required class for freshman students that helps them transition from middle school to high school and acclimate them to the different aspects of technology utilized in the classroom. Having graduated from HHS, I previously thought that my school was not very diverse. However, after all of the diversity discussions we’ve had in EDU 107, I was more aware of diversity present within the classroom now than I was as a student. While the students were not very culturally diverse, they were diverse in other ways such as having different learning styles, varied socioeconomic status, and different behaviors. I felt that Mrs. Wheeler did a wonderful job in reaching oHolly_High_School_logout to all of her students and making sure all of their needs were met.

Additionally, Mrs. Wheeler utilized various types of instruction to ensure she reached all students’ needs. She started the class with a discussion based warm up question that was both relevant to their current assignment and related back to the real world. Essentially, she made her students ask, “why does this matter?”, which I feel is a very important aspect of education that I will incorporate into my future classroom. Additionally, she gave independent work time for students to use Macbook laptops to continue working on a digital project. During this time, I was grateful to be able to walk around the classroom and work with students one-on-one and assist them with any questions they had or help they needed. Making classroom content relevant to the real world is very important and I know that I’m going to incorporate that philosophy in my own classroom.

When I was one of Mrs. Wheeler’s students, I always felt at home in her classroom and when I returned to observe her, I immediately felt the same way. What made her room unnamed-8 so warm and welcoming was the way she decorated it. The two bulletin boards in the room were decorated with inspirational quotes, infographics, and also helpful information such as emergency procedures. There were inspirational quotes on the whiteboard, canvases on the walls, and even uplifting messages on the cupboard doors and behind her desk. The classroom was also set in small groups to encourage discussion and collaboration with the students. I’ve always dreamed of making my classroom feel like a second home and I definitely will utilize inspirational quotes, uplifting messages, and arrange the room so it feels like a comfortable atmosphere for students.

My day at Holly High School reinstilled my purpose and my passion for teaching. By watching one of my favorite high school teachers who made class so engaging, interesting, and meaningful; I gained an understanding of how how I can translate those qualities into my own classroom. What I loved the most was working one on one with students and knowing that I was able to help them or just be someone to talk to. I know in my heart I’m meant to be a teacher and my observation at Holly High School has only fanned the flames of my lifelong dream of becoming an educator.