*The names of the students and the teacher used in this blog post are code names, used to protect the privacy of the students I will be working with this semester. I am very excited to share about my practicum experience, but must be careful about using real names.
This semester, my practicum placement is at an elementary school in Grottoes, VA. I am in Mrs. Q’s first grade classroom! For anyone who has never been to Grottoes, there isn’t much there. It is about a 30 minute drive for me from JMU and on the way to school on my first day, I drove past lots of farms, cows, horses, and there were even a couple of geese on the side of the road. I was so excited for my first day in first grade! When arrived to the school, there were only two cars in the parking lot; I was really early (surprise, surprise)! The school was not unlocked yet, so I anxiously waited in my Jeep for nearly half an hour.
When I entered the classroom, Mrs. Q was just arriving. I had introduced myself through e-mail, but I was really excited to meet her in person and get to know each other. Mrs. Q has two little daughters, of whom she had adorable pictures hanging in the classroom. My first thought- maybe I will get to babysit for her one day once she gets to know me J Anyhow, a little while later, the students began to arrive! I was so excited to meet them all. I cannot even write about all of the introductions I received and stories I heard upon the entrance of all of these cute little first graders! One girl, greeted me with, “Who are you?” Another screamed, “HI!! My me-maw got me these shoes last week!” One little girl attempted to read my name tag, and was followed by a little boy who just held his head low to the ground; it did not seem like he was ready to be out of bed yet. They were all so full of energy and I was so excited to hang out with them all day and learn more about what types of learners they were. The last student to enter the classroom was a blonde-haired littler girl who was extremely hyper, and I could tell she was going to be a handful. She cheerfully greeted me and asked, “Do you like my butterfly dress? I chose to wear these tennis shoes, even though my momma told me I should wear the glitter shoes. You see my dress has butterflies and glitter on it. My momma got it for me and she wanted me to wear the glitter shoes. But I like to catch bugs at recess so we can feed them to our spider, and we have to walk through the grass, so I wanted to wear these tennis shoes. Do you think these tennis shoes look okay with my butterfly dress?” I responded, “I love your dress and you look beautiful!”. She continued, “Will you be here all day? Are you the substitute? Look the boy who sits beside me, his name is Jimmy (code name) and his last name is Rice that’s a kind of food. My last name is Scott. It sounds like something in your body, but it’s not snot, it’s Scott. Do you want to know what I have to do if I want to get an ice cream cup from Food Lion? All I have to do is listen to my momma.” She went on, and on, and on, and on. I forgot to add that almost every child in my class has a heavy southern accent, so that makes these stories even cuter!!
Mrs. Q was doing some literacy testing, so she was out in the hallway for much of the morning. There was a substitute for a couple of hours. One of the reading specialists and a special education teacher were also in and out of the room from time to time. My class had been studying spiders at science time, so I pulled students one at a time to do a super cute spider web art project that Mrs. Q found on the internet. It involved paint and yarn, so of course the kids were really exited! This was also a great way for me to introduce myself to and spend a couple of minutes chatting with each student.
Mrs. Q allowed me to come out into the hall so I could witness the test she was administered. This test quizzes the children on reading and spelling skills and is given at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year. She showed me the testing for a lower reader, a higher reader, and an average first grade reader. I am very grateful that Mrs. Q let me see the process of the testing, as well as the kinds of questions and tasks the students are asked to perform.
We went on with the day: reading, seatwork, math, recess, lunch, guidance, science, P.E., reading, centers……that may be a little out of order, but you get the idea. I really enjoyed helping in the classroom throughout the day. While the kids were at P.E., I spend a little bit of time in the workroom making copies, stapling, sorting, etc. We were going to end the day with a second recess, but it was beginning to storm and Mrs. Q didn’t want to take any chances, so she decided to stay inside and do centers again. I sat on a beanbag in the reading center and read two books aloud to a soft-spoken little girl and I really enjoyed reading to her and hearing all of her predictions about what would happen in the books.
I absolutely love my first grade class and I am so excited to spend every Wednesday of the semester with them! I can’t wait until I start presenting my lesson plans and interacting even more with them! I feel extremely blessed to be enrolled in the education program at JMU and to have the opportunity to be exposed to such a variety of classrooms and schools! And just one more closing statement, Mrs. Q is awesome!! She is easy-going, extremely nice, and she lets me help with everything, which is so cool!! I think my biggest fear was getting placed with a teacher who didn’t want to let me help, and my practicum just turned into one big observation. I know that with Mrs. Q, this won’t be the case and I am really, really excited for first grade!!