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Week: 1 (August 19 21)

1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did you have?
This was a partial week, intended for setting up the classroom prior to the actual start of
school this coming week. Based on this, I did not have a lot of responsibilities, but I did help my
mentor teacher to set up a lot of her classroom. I hung a lot of posters, wrote out nametags for
various aspects of the classroom, and accomplished any other tasks my mentor teacher asked me
to (such as cutting, laminating, printing, etc.). On Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending the
West Des Moines Community Schools Welcome Back to School event. It was very cool to hear
from school board members as well as current high school students about their visions for the
school year and what they were looking forward to for the year. There was also a flashmob done
to a teacher version of One Day More that was particularly exciting. Later on Thursday was
Back to School Night so I got to meet almost all of the students as well as their parents. It was
very exciting, as well as slightly intimidating, to meet all of the students and parents but it
definitely made me excited for the remainder of my time in the classroom! The only other unique
part of this week was the fact that there was a staff meeting on Friday so that I was able to be
introduced and meet most of the staff that I had not met already. All in all, the meeting was not
particularly informative for me but it was cool to see how the new principal of the school
welcomed everyone back and addressed the concerns that they had for the rest of the school year.
2. What were your most satisfying experiences? What were your most challenging
experiences?
The most satisfying experience that I had this week was definitely having the chance to
meet all of the students that I had the chance to and to see how my mentor teacher interacts with
the students, both past and present. There were so many students that my mentor teacher has had
previously who came to visit her and talk with her. She had a great relationship with all of them
and I can tell that the students really look up to her. However, this experience was also my most
challenging for the week. I was not entirely sure how involved I was supposed to be in Back to
School night or how upfront and aggressive I needed to be in regards to introducing myself
and talking with the students and parents. I definitely know that as the classroom teacher I would
need to initiate the conversations, but as the student teacher I did not really know what my role
ought to be. I know that I will not have something that I need to really learn from this
experience, considering that I will never be in this same position again, but I do know that this
was a real challenge for me and Ill need to overcome my intimidation moving forward.
3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?
Since this upcoming week is the first week of school, there arent too many super solid
plans for the week. The first few days of the week will be mostly filled with introductory
material, both introducing the students to each other as well as reintroducing basic subject
matter. Starting on Thursday, the three fifth grade classrooms will begin to switch
teachers/classes for three subject areas (writing, history, and science). Im sure those first few
days of switching classes will be a bit confusing for the students, this will be the first time they
will experience it at school, but I think it is important for them to have the experience as well.

Week: 2 (August 24 28)


1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did you have?
This was the first week of school (yay!) so a lot of this week was spent doing get to
know you activities and teaching the students the different rules and procedures of the
classroom. The majority of what I did was to observe the classroom (second week of observation
and all) but I also was given a few additional responsibilities this week. I picked up the students
from several of their specials, led various get to know you activities, and kept an eye on the
students during their extra recess time (something many of the contract teachers werent actually
doing). My other, fairly large, responsibility was to keep an eye on one of our more challenging
students and keep track of the different kinds of behaviors he exhibited (in order to have
evidence for a meeting with his parents later this month.
2. What were your most satisfying experiences? What were your most challenging
experiences?
The most satisfying experience that I had this week was just the number of connections
that I have already been able to make with this class of students. I have gotten hugs from many
of them (something I never expected from a group of 5th graders to be completely honest), had
several come up to me with questions rather than Mrs. Buchanan, and already had them expect
me to be the one who picked them up from lunch and other classes. I am very excited to see how
these connections deepen and change as the weeks continue. My most challenging experience
this week was also my most disgusting to deal with. The most challenging student in the class,
thus far, was playing outside during extra recess and ended up rolling in some dog poop that
hadnt been cleaned up. He then tracked it into the classroom which made the entire room smell.
I did have a chance to see how my teacher quickly, and discreetly, was able to make contact with
the office and get the entire situation taken care of.
3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?
For this upcoming week, I will slowly begin teaching some of the classes and taking on
even more responsibility in the classroom. The plan for this week is fairly simple, at Western
Hills, the fifth grade teachers switch classes for three of the main subjects (science, social
studies, and writing) and, since my teacher teaches writing, I will teach one or two of the classes
of writing a day this week after she teaches the first one. I am a little concerned because I havent
seen the plans my teacher has for this week yet (she was writing them this weekend) but I think
that observing the lesson first and then teaching it myself should go okay.
Week: 3 (August 31 September 4)
1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did you have?
This week, I taught quite a few lessons. Starting on Monday, I began teaching the reading
mini lessons (from The First 30 Days of Reading curriculum). I was not expecting this
responsibility though, so I had to prepare for the lessons during the day rather than preparing

beforehand. I also prepared the Writing Process lessons that will begin to be taught next week. A
couple days this week, my mentor teacher also asked me to teach a couple of the writing lessons.
These were also lessons that I did not prepare for ahead of time, I didnt know about them until
about 10 minutes before, but I did my best. My teacher also had me pick up and drop off the
students at almost every special class this week, minus a few.
2. What were your most satisfying experiences? What were your most challenging
experiences?
The most satisfying experience that I had this week was the reception that I received from
the students when I did teach lessons. They did a lot better listening than I expected, based on the
fact that I am the student teacher, and some of the students even told me that they thought I
would be a good teacher (something I did not expect to hear, particularly not this early in my
student teaching experience). The most challenging experience that I had this week was in
regards to teaching some of my mentor teachers lessons. There were several times when she
actually interrupted me to input some of her own opinions which I wasnt sure how to react to.
3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?
For this upcoming week, we really havent discussed how much I will be teaching. I know that I
am teaching the lessons regarding the writing process, but I dont know exactly when that will
start. I also will continue to teach the reading mini lessons this week. With the week being
shorter than normal, Im not sure exactly what will be happening, but I hope that Ill be able to
teach even more lessons this week.
Week: 4 (September 8 - 11)
1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did you have?
This week, I continued to teach the reading mini-lessons as well as prepared Fridays
writing lesson entirely on my own (rather than simply teaching what my teacher had already
done). A couple times this week, I also took over the writing lesson that my teacher had given
previously. I also tested every student in the class based on the San Diego Reading Assessment (I
believe thats the name) in order to help determine their current reading level.
2. What were your most satisfying experiences? What were your most challenging
experiences?
The most satisfying experience that I had this week was also the most challenging
experience that I had this week. I have been trying to help my teacher to work with one of the
girls in the class named Rachel. Rachel is extremely smart but also rather lazy and with no
concept of social skills. Dealing with her in the classroom has been a real challenge because
there isnt enough time in the day to focus on just one child. However, that was really my focus
this past week. On Friday, I worked with her one-on-one with her math assignment and had to
talk her down from crying and getting upset multiple times. Talking calmly with her seemed to
work wonders, but it was certainly a test on my patience. However, later in the day, I was talking

with some other girls in the class when they noticed Rachel hiding behind some bushes nearby.
They were a little weirded out but I explained that Rachel was probably trying to see if they
wanted to play with her. One of the girls, Natalie, walked over to where Rachel was and asked if
she wanted to play. Rachel immediately jumped up and shouted YES! with the biggest smile
on her face. Seeing that smile made everything that I had done this week seem worth it and I feel
ready to continue to work with Rachel.
3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?
For this upcoming week, I will continue to teach the mini reading lessons. I am also
teaching all three class periods of writing for the entire week. As I will start full-time teaching
next week, I am not sure if I will start math as well this week or not, but it is possible that I will
teach one or two of the math lessons at the end of this week.
Week: 5 (September 14 18)
1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did you have?
This week, I continued to teach the reading mini-lessons as well as began teaching all of
the writing classes. I taught the new vocabulary words (Word Work) as well as gave the spelling
tests. I had various grading to do throughout the week. I also prepared all of the Friday Folders
for the students which contained work they had done during the past week as well as an
evaluation of how their week had gone. I was also in charge of selecting the options for the next
read-aloud and led the vote for determining the final book. I then began doing the read-aloud
itself the next day.
2. What were your most satisfying experiences? What were your most challenging
experiences?
The most satisfying experience that I had this week was the response that the students
had to the books that I had selected for the read-aloud. I brought several books that I had really
enjoyed reading as a student, either around their age or when I was a little bit older, and the
students got really into the selections that I brought. I had not expected such a response,
considering that the students seem to tune out the read-alouds for the most part. I also had the
students listening attentively every time I read, something I honestly had not been expecting.
The most challenging experience that I had this week was in regards to the same child
who rolled in dog poop a few weeks back. This week, we learned that he had not taken his
medication in about a week. On Wednesday, it became very obvious that he had not taken his
medication and he just slowly continued to build up to a freak out until he exploded. Throughout
the day, he was chewing on various things (paper, pens, his chair, etc.) which was a sign that his
medication was either wearing off or he hadnt taken it at all. Finally, when I was teaching the
writing lesson, he started freaking out (for lack of a better term) and was unable to focus or write
anything at all. My teacher took him out into the hall to take him to the counselor. She told me
later that he started shaking his head violently and mumbling to himself. While walking there, I
guess he also started scratching the wall and eat pieces of his shorts. To be honest, Im still not

entirely sure what happened or if there was anything I, or my teacher, could have done
differently. But it was an all-around trying experience.
3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?
For this upcoming week, I will slowly take on full-time teaching. My teacher is only just
now ready to start math and reading groups so she will be explaining how to do those and then I
will begin leading the class. On Monday, we have a staff development day so I will be in the
meetings for that as well.
Week: 6 (September 21 25)
1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did you have?
This week, I attended a staff development day in which the first half of the day was spent
with the 5th grade PLC and the second half was spent learning how to implement the new science
curriculum/lessons. I also continued to teach all of the writing lessons for the rest of the week as
well as did the read alouds and mini-reading lessons for the week. I also was able to spend some
time with some of the reading and math small groups, which was a little bit of a challenge
considering that this was the first week that the small groups were implemented so the students,
and I, needed to learn how they were going to work.
2. What were your most satisfying experiences? What were your most challenging
experiences?
The most satisfying experience that I had this week was more of a feeling than a
particular experience. Throughout this week, I just ended up feeling as though I really was a
teacher. From teaching to the PLCs to my mock interview with the principal, I just ended up
feeling as though I can actually do this.
The most challenging experience that I had this week was just realizing how difficult it
can be to keep three different classes, when they have various amounts of time per class, to stay
approximately at the same point in a writing lesson. Not that I think it is imperative to have all of
the classes at the exact same point, but it can be really challenging to figure out what can actually
be cut from lessons in order to make a lesson cohesive and complete in half as much time as the
previous lesson. Theoretically, each lesson should become progressively better but the time just
really seemed to get in my way this week.
3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?
For this upcoming week, I will actually be teaching full-time! I will be in charge of
everything, including math finally. Since Ill be teaching everything, there really isnt much else
to say about the plans themselves.

Week: 7 (September 28 October 2)


1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did you have?
This week, I taught every single lesson for every single day. So I was finally in charge of
the math lessons, math groups, taking the class to and from specials, all three writing classes,
reading, reading groups, and even the encore (study hall-ish) time.
2. What were your most satisfying experiences? What were your most challenging
experiences?
The most satisfying experience that I had this week was when my mentor teacher had a
substitute for the day. That sub told me that she thought that I had control of the classes and
would be a great teacher in the future. The fact that she was someone who had never seen me
teach before just helped to reaffirm the fact that I feel as though Im doing a decent job.
The most challenging experience that I had this week was during encore time on
Tuesday. It was the first time that we were actually doing everything that had been intended for
the encore time. My mentor teacher ended up having a meeting with a parent at this time and, all
of a sudden, about 30 fifth graders from the other two classrooms came in for a reading activity
(which was not what my mentor teacher had anticipated happening). We didnt have enough
passages or graphs (for graphing words per minute) for each of the students who came in so I had
to improvise. It really made me think on my feet but it was also a very stressful situation because
I really did not know what I was supposed to be doing with all of those students.
3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?
For this upcoming week, I will be finishing up my time at Western Hills. I am still
teaching the writing lessons but I also will be doing my classroom observation this week.
Belfast Week: 1 (October 12 16)
1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did you have?
The majority of this week was spent in meetings / training sessions about Northern
Ireland History and Curriculum. On Thursday, I was able to go into my school and actually meet
the students and my mentor teacher. I was there for the entire day (this will be the focus of this
log).
2. What were your most satisfying experiences? What were your most challenging
experiences?
The most satisfying experience that I had this week was simply getting to meet the
children that I will be working with. I went from a 5th grade placement in West Des Moines to a
placement in Year One (4 5 year olds) in East Belfast. I was amazed at how well-behaved the
students I worked with were. They were quieter in the classroom and in the halls than the fifth

graders I worked with ever were. The students in my new class were also way more excited
about learning, although I havent yet determined if that is a cultural or an age thing. I also had
the pleasure of working with a Year Four (2nd grade) class for about an hour. I have already
fallen in love with all of the students in both of these classes.
The most challenging experience that I had this week was simply trying to get a handle
on understanding the differences between Northern Ireland and America. One of the things that
first threw me was the fact that my mentor teacher had separated out the tables the students sit at
by ability group, and every single child definitely knew that this was the case. Then, when we
were preparing to move outside the room, the girls had to stand in one line and the boys in
another. Finally, the fact that the school day has some parts that are extremely openly Christian
(example: praying before lunch) really surprised me. I am sure that by the end of my time here,
these will seem fairly common place, but it was a little bit of a shock to me this week. The
transition between places was obviously quite challenging but then the transition between ages
simply compounded on those challenges.
3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?
For this upcoming week, I will be in the classroom Tuesday Thursday but I will still be in the
observation phase. I will not be teaching a lesson for a couple more weeks still, something that I
think is actually good to hold off on for now.
Belfast Week: 2 (October 19 23)
1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did you have?
On Monday, I attended a class regarding difference in the classroom. Tuesday through
Thursday, I was actually in my classroom and helping my mentor teacher out as much as
possible. On Thursday, the classroom assistant was sick so I was able to be more involved in the
classroom than I had been previously. I spent a lot of time this week working with the lowest
ability group, the Hedgehogs, as well. On Friday, we had another class which was extremely
useful because we talked about how to lesson plan for Northern Ireland.
2. What were your most satisfying experiences? What were your most challenging
experiences?
The most satisfying experience that I had this week was the connection that I was able to
make with the new Slovakian student, David. David came to the country about two weeks ago
now, so he does not speak any English whatsoever. Working with him has been a challenge, but
this week he started using some English words (such as I want) and responding to positive
feedback. I received lots of smiles as he was able to write several sounds (letters) correctly, even
though he didnt necessarily know what the meaning of those sounds were.
The most challenging experience that I had this week was in regards to the fact that we
were not able to attend the parent interviews (parent-teacher conferences) that were happening
this week. I needed to stay at the school until 4 even though the students were done at 1:45.
Therefore, I had to find somewhere else to go for 2 hours and I did not get to experience
conferences, either in Ireland or in the States. So that is a little bit stressful for me because I have

not seen how conferences actually work which means I will not have experience in this area
before actually becoming a teacher.
3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?
For this upcoming week, I will actually be in Italy. However, the following week, I will be
teaching a reading lesson each day of the week.
Belfast Week: 3 (October 26 30)
1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did you have?
On Monday, I visited Venice and traveled to Florence. On Tuesday, I visited Florence
and got some great views of the city. On Wednesday, I traveled to Rome and walked around to
many of the biggest tourist attractions. On Thursday, I spent most of the day in Vatican City
and then walked around Rome some more to get a few night pictures. On Friday, I traveled to
Naples and then spent the day in Pompeii.
2. What were your most satisfying experiences? What were your most challenging
experiences?
The most satisfying experience that I had this week was simply the opportunity to travel
around Italy and experience an entirely different culture. I had to work on my abilities to
communicate with people who do not have the same language as me, which truly was a
challenge. But, by the end, I felt like I was generally able to get my meaning across fairly
quickly (considering the fact that I didnt know any Italian) using hand gestures and several
words that are at least similar or known in various countries. I also loved being able to
experience the history of Italy, particularly that of Rome. I think teaching World History
(something I am sure I will have to teach at some point) will be greatly enhanced by my firsthand
knowledge of several of the places that are taught about. I remember learning about the Coliseum
when I was in elementary school and now I have actually been there! I think that that can show
students that they can truly apply what they have learned in school to their real life. It also gives
me the opportunity to share my pictures and personal experiences with my students, which will
provide me the ability to make better connections with my future students.
The most challenging experience that I had this week was dealing with one of my travel
companions, a 19 year old from Hong Kong who I just met about a week before we left for Italy.
Although I wont go into too much detail, lets just say it was truly a struggle to continue to be
polite as I continued to get more and more annoyed with him as the week went on. However, I
think this was a truly beneficial experience for me because I know that there are students that I
am going to have to deal with that I may not always get along with. I realized that it is possible
for me to wake up each day and not hold whatever happened the day before against a person (a
little bit more challenging when spending every hour of every day with a person but definitely
still possible). I have realized that I will be able to keep my mind clear (as far as I know) and to
treat each of my students with the respect and understanding that they deserve, no matter the
circumstances that have brought them into my classroom.

3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?


For this upcoming week, I will be teaching a reading lesson each day of the week. On
Tuesday, I will be introducing a wordless picture book, my 4 year old class first real
introduction to reading. On Wednesday, using the same book, we will work on constructing
sentences using what the students can see in each picture. On Thursday, I will be doing a readaloud about the polar lands and talking with my students about various polar animals.
Belfast Week: 4 (November 2 6)
1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did you have?
This week, I started teaching one lesson a day. I taught reading lessons on both Tuesday
and Wednesday and then taught a math lesson on Thursday. Aside from these lessons, I
continued to be the equivalent of a classroom assistant and spent a lot of time working with the
low achieving table. I also tried to help the students learn their songs for both their music
morning and their nativity play. There were also several times where my mentor teacher sent me
in her place for several of the co-teaching positions that she has, so I became the only other
teacher in the room.
2. What were your most satisfying experiences? What were your most challenging
experiences?
The most satisfying experience that I had this week was actually when I was in one of the
co-teaching classrooms, the only one I had worked with before. As soon as I entered the
classroom, the students all turned to me and shouted Hi, Miss D. at the top of their lungs. It
made me feel very welcomed into the classroom and was something that completely took me by
surprise. I had only worked with these students for approximately 45 minutes previously and did
not really expect them to remember me (they do have additional teachers in their classroom
every single day). Now, Im not sure if they remembered me for me or just because I was an
American, but it was still a thoroughly uplifting experience. It helped me to feel as though I
really am working in the right field for me, because it means so much to have made even the
smallest impact on a students life, let alone an entire class of students.
The most challenging experience that I had this week was teaching my math lesson. I did
not receive the information for the lesson itself until Tuesday, which meant I had less time to
prepare it than I had originally. However, that was not my main challenge. That challenge was
the fact that I forgot how difficult it can be to work with 4 year olds, and how little they can
actually do on their own. Since I had taught fifth graders in Des Moines, I had gotten used to the
fact that every student was able to read directions on their own, some more easily than others but
still, and that they could perform simple tasks without it completely falling apart. My 4 year olds,
on the other hand, could not handle even the task of getting into a group of five without turning it
into a chance to run around the room and scream. Very quickly, my lesson fell completely apart
and was not remotely salvageable.

3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?


For this upcoming week, I will be teaching a mini lesson on sequencing of The Three
Bears for sure. The remainder of the week is still up in the air in regards to what I will be
teaching due to the fact that my teacher ran out of time to work with me on it to figure it out. The
music morning for my class will also happen on Tuesday, so that will take up quite a chunk of
the day.
Belfast Week: 5 (November 9 13)
1. How did you spend your time this week? What responsibilities did you have?
This week, I continued to teach one lesson a day. All of my lessons this week were
related to either reading or writing / phonics work. I helped the students to write a letter on
behalf of Goldilocks, to turn separated words into a complete sentence, and to sequence the story
of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
2. What were your most satisfying experiences? What were your most challenging
experiences?
The most satisfying experience that I had this week was when I attended the Accelerated
Learning after school club on Tuesday. The students in this club are all year sevens (fifth
graders) who are preparing to take their examinations to get into their secondary school (middle
and high school) with the hope that they will have good enough grades to get into a grammar
school (the more advanced secondary school). I got to spend about 45 minutes with them as they
worked through practice tests and helped each other to determine the right answers. While this
may sound not particularly exciting, it was my most satisfying experience because I was seeing
where the students in my P1 class have the potential of ending up by the end of their time at
Euston Street Primary School.
The most challenging experience that I had this week involved bodily fluids. The kids
could not seem to keep them inside their bodies and outside of the classroom this week. On
Tuesday, the little boy who does not speak English ended up having an accident in his chair
about 5 minutes before the school day ended. As I did not know the schools policy for handling
such incidents (I really had not thought to ask about it), I did not know what to do. My mentor
teacher ended up just sending him home the way he was due to the fact that school was ending
when we figured it out. On Thursday, another little boy ended up getting sick in the middle of the
day. What really surprised me about this incident was that the classroom assistant simply took
off his sweater and had him sit down with some water. Not even five minutes later, my mentor
teacher allowed him to get up and play. In my previous experiences, any student who throws up
is automatically sent home but I dont believe his parents were even contacted.
3. What are the plans for the upcoming week?
For this upcoming week, I will be teaching one lesson each day, yet again. I will be doing
another cut-up sentence on Tuesday, working with a Bee Bot on Wednesday (I will find out what

that actually is on Tuesday), and helping students to sequence Cinderella on Thursday. I will
also have my first Stranmillis observation on Thursday.