Thursday, March 27, 2014

Blog Reflection on Blogging and Class Assignments ;)

In all honesty, between extensive assignments for multiple classes, creating impressive lesson plans for work, raising a 2 year old on my own, and life, itself, I have been slacking on writing my blog. Yes, this is all my fault and, yes, this is sad. However, after this entry, I will be completely caught up.

Blogging is an effective way to reflect on your work and your readings. I thoroughly enjoy being allowed openly express my thoughts and opinions on the material that we are reading/working on that week in class. It is just hard to remember to complete. You'd think that I would be better at this, considering the fact that I am quite the opinionated writer. Oh well, I have them all completed now and, personally, I think that my opinions adequately reflect on the topics assigned each week. 

As far as what we have been working on in class lately, well, I'm not 100% sure how I feel about this assignment. We have been working on an Instructional Unit with Classmates. It was not an easy assignment. I wrote most of the materials, lessons, and did the APA citations on the original submission and then contributed to the reflection piece. When the assignment was sent back to the group, I took a few days and edited the assignment to address the concerns of the professor. I then e-mailed the edited assignment back to the group. Then, the group met and changed the entire format of the unit and submitted it. My e-mail was rebelling against me being a great member of the group and I truly got to feel like what it must be like to be the media coordinator who is not 100% involved in the final creation of a unit/lesson that directly involves the use of my materials, resources, etc. While I got to go back in and approve of the final submission, there were times that I was completely left out of the planning portion. I addressed my concern via e-mail with my group and was able to work again with the group, but it was really difficult to plan with multiple people who are on very different schedules.

More now than ever, I want to be a librarian. I have personally felt what it is like to collaboratively plan with others who are on such different schedules and I know that I have the patience and ability to work around the schedule of others, even when mine is hectic. I feel like my personality helps me to have the skill set needed to work with others and make suggestions/revisions to work without being "pushy" or "overstepping my boundaries" in one way or another.

I did not realize how difficult the job was going to be, though. If I'm going to be honest, I went into this program under the assumption that the media coordinator's job was a lot easier than that of a classroom teacher. What I am learning is that the media coordinator's job is just as difficult and just as complicated. Sometimes, it might even be more complicated because of the expectation to work with the entire school - all grade levels and all content areas, including encore classes like music and art. While this is frustrating, it is also inspiring. I have so many great ideas as to what I will want to do once I have my own media center. I am incredibly excited with the possibilities that this class has made me realize I can do once I get in there and work in a library that is all my own. I am also very lucky that my own media coordinator has allowed me so much freedom in running the library so far. She has been very receptive to my ideas and has allowed me to do so much more than I imagined I would be doing at this point in my program.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Teacher Observation and Interview

This week, we were asked to explain how the topics in this week's readings relate to the teacher observation and interview that we were asked to complete.

I observed an 8th grade ELA teacher at my school. She is an incredible teacher who was working hard to review difficult concepts with a smaller group of students during an intervention/enrichment period and then trying to inspire her full class to work hard and complete difficult assignments on time.

During the intervention/enrichment period, she clearly set a purpose for the review/readings that the students were doing: They were reading for information (discussed in chapter 9 of Donham). Students were reading articles that were related to astronomy and taking the information gained from the articles to answer questions. Students would read, look for a particular piece of textual evidence, and then use that evidence to support an answer choice.

During the regular class period, the teacher first gave a small speech about responsibility, effort, and completing assignments. She then assigned a difficult fiction piece for the students to read and complete an assignment on point of view. When we discussed why she chose that particular piece for the students to read, she told me that she had looked at various measures of complexity before deciding to use this specific play.. She said that while the lexile level of the play was easier than the suggested lexile level for 8th grade, the qualitative dimensions of the text made it more complex and therefore, made it appropriate for her students. This was also discussed in chapter 9 of Donham.

The teacher that I interviewed admitted to not working collaboratively with the media coordinator. I wonder if, had the media coordinator gone to her planning meetings and made suggestions to the teacher, she would have been more receptive to working together. Collaboration wasn't the particular focus of this week's reading assignment, but it has been the focus in the past. This is not just common for this particular teacher. There is a lack of collaborative planning with the teacher and the media coordinator in a lot of the schools that I have worked in previously.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Most Heartening Piece This Week

I'm a little unclear on how any of the assigned readings this week were "heartening." I didn't find anything that we read specifically cheerful or encouraging. If anything, it made me more nervous. A lot of the pieces we read this week were about planning collaboratively. Teachers and media coordinators working together to create materials, lessons, units, etc. together.

The article that I liked the best was "Understanding How Teachers Plan: Strategies for Successful Instructional Partnerships." I feel like this article gave the most helpful hints as to how to work together. For example, media coordinators should "be open to new ways of looking at teaching and help teachers to do likewise." I think that media coordinators should be the more open-minded of the two who are planning together and should be responsible for suggesting "out of the box" ways to address the same standards that the classroom teacher is looking to address in a particular lesson or unit.

I really appreciated that the collaborative reflection and planning is supposed to reflect the teacher's teaching and planning style. The fact that this article encouraged media coordinators to truly help the classroom teacher was great. When teachers and media coordinators talk about their planning and about their work, it will eventually become obvious that the teacher's style and desires will drive the instruction. When the media coordinator can add to that without being hostile or overly demanding, the planning will go a lot more smoothly.

My favorite part of this article was where the author said, "Don't wait to be asked; assume partnerships and look for opportunities to plan with teachers." In my district, at least, I do not ever see teachers go out of their way to plan with the media coordinator. However, if the media coordinator were to come to our common planning with some ideas ready to be contributed, we would not turn him or her away. We are very receptive to new ideas but do not have a lot of time during the school day to seek out the help.