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My Meta-journey with my Student Teacher

September 18, 2011

Teacher Musings:
This year, for the first time, I have a student teacher.  I’m lucky because she has worked in schools before and didn’t have a lot of the same anxiety that most student teachers have when they are in front of kids for the first time.  Having her in my room has been fantastic, both because she is able to help students and because she is another set of eyes and ears that will help me improve my practice.  I knew these were going to be benefits to having a student teacher when I agreed to do it, but what has surprised me is the other way my role as a mentor has been helpful to me.  Now that I have someone watching me, and (theoretically) learning from me, I find myself being super metacognitive about every decision I make.  At first this was just so that I would remember to explain to my student teacher why I made the decisions I made when I made them.  I wanted to make sure she understood my reasoning when I asked a student to “go wait” by the door to speak with me individually, when I gave positive feedback to a student who had written a page, but was not spelling correctly.  But in the act of trying to think metacognitivly for her I started to be more aware of my actions and choices for myself as well.  I found myself thinking through choices I would have just made by instinct normally, and sometimes making different choices because of that metacognitive reflection.  This experience has reminded me, once again, that through the act of teaching I am the ultimate learner.  If this is true for me, it is true for my students as well, although it happens for them on a different level.  I look forward to building in more time when they instruct others in the class, and through that teaching learn more for themselves.

A quick aside – this year I had a new type of “get to know you” assignment for my students.  Since I now have 96 students instead of the 45 I had four years ago, I needed something that would tell me a bit about them, but that wouldn’t take hours to read and respond to (like when they used to write me a letter about themselves).  My compromise was a metaphor assignment where students had to take/find a picture and e-mail it to me with a metaphor about themselves (I provided an example).  Click here to see the glogster-poster of one classes’ metaphors.  It was really fun and really engaging – and it helped me learn names!

What are some strategies you use to get to know students at the start of the year?

Yummy Stuff:
As a cost-saving measure I have been making my own almond-milk for several months now.  There are a ton of recipes online, but here is the one I have settled on after much trial and error.  Please note – I think this would work in a normal blender, but you might have to blend it longer.  We have a Vita-mix, and I highly recommend one if you love smoothies, hummus and almond milk as much as we do!

Almond Milk

Ingredients
1 cup raw almonds
Cheesecloth

Directions:
1) Soak the almonds in water for at least 4 hours (or overnight)
2) Drain the almonds, and then add them to the blender along with 1 cup of water.  Blend for 2 minutes on high.
3) Add in 4 cups of water.  Blend on high for another 2 minutes.
4) Let the almond milk sit for 5-10 minutes so that the foam settles.  While you are waiting, prepare a cheesecloth but cutting it to cover the top of a large container (I use a large glass measuring cup – a quart-sized one).  I put the cheesecloth in a mesh strainer just to make it easier, but you could just use the cheesecloth. 
5) Pour 1/4-1/3 of the almond mixture into the cheesecloth.  Let it drain, and then gather and twist the cheesecloth to get ALL the liquid out.  You will be left with almond pulp. Put that to the side and think about all the delicious almond pulp cookies you can make later!
6) Continue until all the milk has been strained.  Store the milk and pulp in the fridge (separately of course!)

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