So, from the last post you know that I’m taking classes here in Tulsa. But what is this summer really all about?
We go to lots and lots of “sessions” where we learn everything that we can in a short time about education and leadership in the classroom. It is insanity, but we earn 9 hours of college credit in literally five weeks. I described some of the classes that we have had so far in the last blog post. I find them super interesting, besides the number that they try to cram into one day.
But, the most important and most exciting part is, of course, teaching. I’ve been placed in a preschool program here in Tulsa. Rather than working with Tulsa Public Schools (TPS), forty of us have been placed at a Community Action Project (CAP) site, specifically CAP Disney. Almost the entirety of the corps members (CMs) placed at CAP Disney are part of the Oklahoma core, except for me and two from the Twin Cities. This is because Oklahoma is one of the only big regions that places corps members in preschools. I honestly feel very lucky to have been placed in preschool, because most of my kindergarteners in the fall will not have attended preschool. This experience is familiarizing me with what kids who have access to preschool would have learned. It also opens my eyes to the reality that I will have to teach my kids two grades in one year in order for them to be as ready for first grade as their peers who did attend kindergarten. And let’s not forget that I’m doing this in Spanish. But that is another story.
CMs at Disney are divided up into three groups, each of which is led by a Corps Member Advisor (CMA). The CMAs are former TFA teachers that have all very successfully run preschool classrooms of their own. My CMA is Maria and she is beyond awesome. Watching her model her techniques is just magical. Within our CMA groups, we are divided into groups of four called collabs (collaborations). All four teachers in the collab work together in the same classroom. So, we have to collaboratively write our vision and goals, classroom management, investment plan, and classroom procedures together (and it is really hard to get four teachers to agree!).
In the morning, all four teachers will be in the classroom from 8-8:30 to greet the parents and the kids. Then, two will teach from 8:30-10:30 and two will teach from 10:30-12:30. Within our two hour block, duties are divided up. Each week we will change duties, so by the end we will have taught everything. This week, I am teaching math in the morning block. The morning block consists of breakfast, recess, morning meeting, and math and literacy small groups. The afternoon block consists of large group literacy, centers and guided reading, lunch, and math meeting. In preschool, the lesson times are actually pretty short, but we have to look for ways to assess all throughout the day. Much of our teaching will also revolve around procedures like transitioning from breakfast to carpet time and sitting correctly on the carpet. I like that CAP uses family style lunches, so we will be working on manners and asking purposeful questions throughout meal times. Next week I’ll run morning meeting and teach small group lit. The following week I’ll have guided reading and the last week I’ll teach large group lit and math meeting. The other two morning hours as well as the afternoon hours are all filled with sessions.
Nights are used for individual meetings with the CMAs, lesson planning, making materials, and doing group work. Thankfully, weekends are ours to work as we need to with no scheduled activities.