I wrapped up my first placement at Cache La Poudre Elementary on Friday, February 26th. As I am fully reflecting on the eight weeks, I am also acknowledging what events, situations, and teaching moments I was able to experience. Because groups alternate each week, I had to begin my goodbyes on Week 7 which was the first time I understood how teachers feel at the end of the year. I have been designing lessons, walking and facilitating students into new projects for kindergarten, first, third, fourth, and fifth grade. Kindergarten has been doing many one or two day projects while the rest have been working on one large project, concept, or medium. The last two weeks gave me the final push of growth I needed. I focused on predicting, assuming, and anticipating what students will need, understand, and where it could go wrong.
On Week 7, I had to leave town to visit my grandparents. Luckily, I was able to treat this time as if I had to prepare for a substitute. I created sub plans for my mentor teacher to follow for the days I was absent to help guide her in each class (not that she needed them, but to practice). I layed out all the odd times, alternating classes, and times because of the flexible, everchanging schedule right now. This allowed me to get organized, sort my thoughts and objectives for each class, and gather what I have learned. After I finished the plans, I got helpful feedback from my mentor regarding detail and necessary elements to include. It was another real learning experience that I can apply later in my teaching career. It is easy to get comfortable in the position as a student teacher and still view yourself as a student. When I get the opportunity to step into the true position, I get a taste of the nitty gritty tasks teachers have to do. I think that it is important to see all sides, even if student teachers are slightly restricted. I am continuing to be open minded, willing, and positive about the circumstances.
Another great opportunity has been the vaccine! I am very thankful that the Poudre School District fought for student teachers to get the vaccine just like the regular teachers. We are on the road to cultivating a safer, free, work zone in our classrooms. The in school substitutes have been extremely helpful because scheduling the vaccine times and locations have been difficult while dealing with possible symptoms following each round. I have felt supported and valued as we move forward into full in person Middle and High School. COVID has impacted the way I am able to teach, but has given me learning opportunities that I have never experienced and without it, possibly wouldn't ever experience. I have adapted to COVID cleaning and protection guidelines while focusing on art. Something that I want to work on is the comfort that takes over if I think my classes are doing well. Just because no one has tested positive, does not mean I should loosen up. I am aware that Middle School art classrooms are different and management will be different, so I am hoping to keep COVID in the forefront of my teachings. It has almost been a year since this began, it is easy to get over relaxed. Luckily, the weather is warming up soon and will be able to take students outside during class time.
It is sad to say that my time at Cache La Poudre Elementary has come to an end, but I am beyond thankful for the experience I had. The community of teachers cultivate resilience, growth mindset, and care. The students are very lucky to be taught by each teacher and the community students get to build as well.
My last artwork for my Elementary Placement resembles a beautiful balance that came from the chaos of teaching right now and the care that came from the community.