FEATURES FOR TEACHERS
Features For New Teachers
Volume 3, Issue 14
Editing is making changes in the students' writing for content. This is the opportunity for students to make adjustments to their paragraphs, adding in more details, and getting rid of irrelevant material.
Unfortunately, students really hate to rewrite their drafts. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but I have a hunch that they really just want to move on. Blame it on the high speed internet and gaming culture if you want, but regardless of why, students don't want to go back over the same paragraphs over and over.
Our writing program is designed to counter this. Our focus, as you have seen, is on the drafting aspect. The students' writings are kept in a file in class so they are not lost some place. Then every couple of weeks the students choose one paragraph from their file to type into a final form. We like to have students type because it is different than hand writing. This helps counter the boredom aspect, because the kids would much rather work on the computer than write by hand.
Students are required to read over their paragraph before sitting down at the computer. And we teach our students to 'edit on the fly'. This means to make corrections as they're typing. Many students can find the areas where they want to make changes, adding or deleting from their text. After a bit of practice, the students get really good at 'editing on the fly' and they'll begin planning their changes even as they open a new file.
Peer checking and editing is important too. Partner up students and exchange papers. I find its good to have students find some of the information on their own papers first before swapping. For example, each student knows where his or her topic sentence, clincher, and supports are in their paragraphs, but these may not be clear to other students. Once the important facets of the essay are identified, it becomes easy for the partner to work with and make suggestions. I like to have students write comments that 'Mr. Holes' would make. By putting themselves in my shoes, and writing from what they think I'd say about the paper, the pressure of criticizing and making suggestions is lessened. This has been extremely positive for my own students.
Editing can be practiced in class too. Use student examples you've copied onto overhead sheets, show them on the front board, and discuss how to add more details, make changes, move words and phrases around, and get rid of irrelevant information. Do this as a whole class activity, and in small groups. Be sure to give students the chance to voice their ideas. You can also type up a few paragraphs, either student examples or ones you've created, and have students practice editing those.
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This is the culmination of several years of hard work. You've finished college. You're done with your student teaching and you've passed all of your teacher certification examinations. The applications, resumes, and cover letters have been sent out to every local school district.
All you can do now is sit around the house and wait for the phone to ring, right? Wrong! You should be preparing for your interview!
I've been to the interview table several times as a candidate and many more times as an interviewer. If there were any tricks, secrets, or shortcuts to success in the interviewing process, I haven't discovered them. My only sound advice for candidates is to come to the interview prepared.
You should have your teaching portfolio in-hand and you should be ready to talk about anything and everything that relates to you, your background, and your philosophies on education. The best candidates know how to teach, they know how to articulate their teaching beliefs, and most of the time, they already know what types of questions will be asked before the interview even begins.
It's easy for an interviewer to spot an unprepared candidate. Candidates who have not practiced basic interview questions beforehand are unnaturally nervous. They shift in their seats more. They begin most answers with the word, "uhhhhh." There are long pauses while interviewers wait for the candidate to process the question and think up an answer. They get confused by basic educational jargon that they learned in college.
Almost every teaching interview includes similar, common questions. In order to be a prepared candidate, all you have to do is practice answering the most common questions before you go to the interview. If you prepare beforehand, the interview questions will seem routine and familiar. There are no tricks or shortcuts; if you do your homework you will perform well.
Body language can show whether you're a confident, qualified teacher or an unsure one. At the interview, be confident, but not cocky. Smile when you walk in. Greet the people interviewing you with a smile and a nod. Firmly shake the hand of the principal and other interviewers that are within easy reach. When you take your seat, sit up straight with your feet on the floor and your hands in a relaxed position on the desk.
Have a mild sense of humor. Prepare to make some humorous small talk when you are greeted. For example, if a principal shakes your hand and asks how you are, it's okay to say, "A nervous wreck!" A whimsical introduction can break the ice. Be sure your sense of humor is clean and appropriate for an interview.
Have a teaching portfolio ready. Your portfolio should contain extra copies of your resume, a copy of your teaching certificate, sample lesson plans, samples of student work, and any other evidence that shows you are a qualified candidate for a teaching position. It should be bound in a neat, professional-looking leather binder. Place the portfolio in front of you when you sit down at the interview table.
Usually, the people interviewing you will not ask to see your portfolio. They do, however, expect you to have it on-hand. Don't wait for anyone to mention the portfolio. Instead, you should use it as a tool to describe your teaching experiences. For example, if you are asked to describe a lesson that involves teaching writing, you might say, "Yes, I can show you! I have a sample of student work that shows how I teach the writing process."
The first question at almost every interview will be: "Tell us about yourself." You should already know what you're going to say. Keep your answer reasonably brief. You can talk about the college you attended and provide an overview of your teaching experience. Always be positive. Try not to say, "I don't know." Avoid saying, "I'm not really good at..." Don't say, "That's one of my weak points."
Always tell the truth, but you don't want to suggest that you're not a confident, successful, qualified teacher. If you honestly don't know the answer to a question, you might ask the interviewer to restate it in a different way, or you might want to give the best answer you can based on your knowledge and experiences.
Use lots of examples when you answer questions. When they ask how you would do something, tell them how you have already done it. This will make you seem more experienced. For example, if an interviewer asks, "How would you you use creative problem-solving in your lessons?" You might answer with, "When I was student teaching, I did a great creative problem-solving lesson when..." When you use specific examples, you're convincing the interviewers that you're more than just hypothetical talk.
The final question of your interview will most likely be, "Do you have any questions for us?" Be prepared with a thoughtful question ahead of time. While this is probably not the most important question of the interview, it is your last chance to leave a positive impression. Rather than answering with, "Not really," you should ask something philosophical or complimentary. You might ask the interviewer why they are proud of their school or what the people you'll be working with are like. Since your interviewers will probably be meeting with lots of candidates, you should use the opportunity to ask a question and make yourself stand out. And, think about it: You've been on the hot seat answering their questions for 45 minutes. You've earned the right to turn the table, even if it is just for a moment.
When you leave, the interviewers will, of course, be talking about you. They'll be filling out little forms rating your experience, qualifications, communication skills, and personality. At the end of the day, they will have about a dozen of these forms sitting on the desk. They'll look through them all and the chosen candidates will be the ones who were the most memorable, most qualified, and most prepared for the meeting. With some time and effort, that candidate can be you.
an intern is an interesting position to be in. The university treats you
as a student, making you jump through hoops completing projects and
meeting deadlines sometimes seeming totally irrelevant to the
internship. The school district you are working in expects you to be a
professional educator with all the secrets of innovation and new
technologies fresh from the university 'think tank'. Parents think of
you as someone who really doesn't know what they are doing yet and don't
understand why you are practicing on their kids. They are always quick
to point out their perceptions of student teachers when a problem arises
about grades or behavior.
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In This Week's Issue
Student Editing For Paragraphs & Essays
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