Entering the fourth week, I knew this would be five days of an emotional roller coaster. All of the counselors bonded so quickly with all of the kids that despite only spending four weeks with them, we knew we’d be upset come the last day. This week would be a little different in that we also had parent conferences with individual parents for each kid accompanied with one psychosocial or recreational counselor and an academic lead that worked closely with them, meaning every counselor would participate in two meetings. These meetings would cover academics, social interaction, strengths, challenges, and recommendations for the home and school environment. I was most intrigued by this because in my future career as a teacher, parent-teacher conferences were what I was most nervous about.
The students I was doing conferences for showed tremendous growth throughout the course of the program. One student, we’ll call him Student A, started out the program with difficulty regulating himself, often becoming very upset and crying easily over losing in recreational games. Emotional regulation is still a challenge for him, especially when it comes to his triggers (being targeted by his peers in a recreational game or tattletaling), but his improvement in his regulation shows in his recovery time from when he gets upset - it’s immensely shorter and sometimes he just becomes disgruntled but lets it go instead of having a full out breakdown. The use of the phrase “be flexible” has improved his willingness toward trying new things at home, and so long as his family and teacher (come September) stick to a behavioral plan of positive reinforcement combined with concrete expectations, Student A’s behavior will be of minimum concern moving forward.
Student B, the other student I did conferences for, showed tremendous improvements in his control of his body and use of personal space. Originally he would just get up out of his seat to get things without asking, but now he both asks for permission by raising a quiet hand and is aware of his personal space when doing so. Similarly, he’s improved with quick compliance in the sense that it used to take him a little while to actually follow through with what he was being asked to do, whereas now he’ll quickly comply. If he gets points off during the day (since our main reinforcement system is based around receiving and taking away points), he doesn’t take it as personally anymore. At the start of the program, if he felt something was being taken away from him, he would feel insulted but try to cover this using a defense mechanism of “ “I don’t care about points,” often going out of his way throughout the day after the incident occurred to continue reminding counselors and other kids that not only did he not care about points, but he didn’t want them in the first place. After receiving parent feedback and finding out this was a common occurrence at home, we worked on getting Student B to realize minor critical feedback is not such a negative thing in the grand scheme of things. Throughout the program he made a concerted effort to improve, and it has shown in his progress. Student B’s emotional progress in terms of his tolerance for frustration has not only improved, but he’s overall had a substantial reduction in his emotional outbursts. His main focus moving forward should be expanding his emotional vocabulary to help him state what he’s feeling so that adults can help.
The above summaries of two out of the eight students’ progress above show just a small sliver of what the month July had in store for me. There was so much progress, so many improvements, that we decided to have a small celebration for this kids on the last day involving food, a slideshow, and the present each student with an award for something they worked hard to improve on. The counselors also presented each kid with a handwritten card detailing their accomplishments and what we were proud of them for (with the cards following a theme from their favorite book/movie/video game/animal). This part got particularly emotional because we knew this would be the last time a lot of us would be seeing our kids, and we were so proud of how far they’ve come.
The BUDS program was an incredible experience through and through. I entered this position nervous about how the reliance on such a tangible reward system would affect the intrinsic motivation for the kids’ behavior to improve. I was also nervous because this was the first time I, along with my co-teacher, were in complete control of a group in a classroom scenario. This was the first time all of the counselors has the opportunity to be at the helm of the classroom environment, fully in charge and making our own decisions on what we feel the children should learn and what expectations we would set for them to thrive most in said environment. With September and a new teaching position rapidly approaching, this opportunity provided invaluable experience with meaningful reflection on where and how student’s needed to improve, and allowed me to get comfortable with exercising classroom management practices to attain these goals. I was surprised by how natural it felt to converse with kids and develop bonds that would make them trust counselor advice/instruction in terms of their behavior later in the program.
A big realization I came to towards the end of the program was just how vital it is to reflect on the kids you have and where they are at in their entirety. It’s so easy (as I experienced first hand) to 1) place the blame on the kid and not yourself 2) focus on the negative and not the positive (and vice versa) and 3) make claims about the kids you want versus the kids you have (and by this I mean generally saying you wished your student was more of a certain quality, I’m not saying wishing you had another student). The whole point of programs like this and school in general is to improve the whole student. These observations, like wishing a student was more kind to their peers, are useful so long as the teacher puts to work a course of action and believes in the child’s success.
Entering week 2, the program’s means of functioning became fairly efficient. Our staff meetings throughout the week became more streamlined and easier to follow by following the general structure of discussing positives throughout the program day, crisis situations, logistics/operation business, and behavioral modifications/management. In segmenting our meetings this way, it required staff to organize what they wanted to add to the meeting and really think about where a certain thought regarding the program, and specifically the kids, belonged. In organizing our thoughts in this manner, it also helped jumpstart the process of brainstorming potential solutions, because where the problem fit into the agenda determined what the course of action could be.
During the staff debrief at the start of the week, we discussed the need for a stronger emphasis on C.A.L.M. expectations prior to transitions so as to iron out any confusion regarding what is expected of kids. This Monday was a challenge, and as the week got off to its start, we realized we had to especially plan on accounting for this at the start of the week since kids may regress in their following of commands during the weekend.
I’ve noticed that all of the instructors (myself included) have gotten stronger at providing behavioral modifications for students during real time interactions with them. This is an area we struggled with a bit last week, but as we’ve gotten to know the kids better, we’re able to create a stronger redirection or modify a task to better insure student engagement and behavioral compliance. My co-counselors and I have also started working together in a more seamless way – throughout the week we often understood each other’s nonverbal signals for a variety of scenarios (addressing a student’s behavior, directing individual instruction to kids who needed it, etc). We also seemed to be on the same page about how to go about interacting with particular students and employing therapeutic intervention (from the types of reinforcement we would disseminate to the way we went about handling conflict) we often would act on our instincts and find that another counselor was about to take the same course of action as us.
After reviewing the data for the week, I started to see general patterns of behavior for almost all of the students with the exception of one particular kid. His behavior did not follow a clear and consistent pattern. He is incredibly bright, but he often had difficulty focusing his attention to our academic coursework despite it encompassing subject content and activities he enjoyed. I had difficulty coming up with meaningful interventions for him because it felt like I could not connect with him as a students, and more importantly as a kid. I noticed another counselor had a more effortless experience when interacting with him, and when I would consult her about strategies she used that I would also try to employ, she always had such positive things to say about this particular student. Going into the third week, I would need a perspective shift, a new means of observing and interacting with students I didn’t always get along with, especially if I was going to be of any assistance in helping him regulate his anger and bullying tendencies.
With every week that passed, I felt more and more comfortable being at the helm of the classroom and basing my instruction, along with my co-instructor, on the strengths and weaknesses of our group. The kids were finally starting to fall more naturally into their routines with less aversion to academic activities. I realized just how much children pick up on when you enjoy teaching a subject; for example, I absolutely love reading, and teaching reading feels fairly easy to me because it’s a subject field I enjoy. My students seemed to pick up on this because they were extremely responsive during our reading periods.
At the start of week three, I got insight into a different side of the program - parent meetings. Every week there was a meeting with all of the parents to go over a section of our process of intervention for their children. Counselors rotated this responsibility with our morning shifts with the kids, so the third week was my chance to sit in and participate. During this meeting we, along with the program director, reviewed the implementation of positive reinforcement, special play time, daily schedules, and house rules, and received positive feedback from all of the parents with how their kids were responding to these structures in the home (after setting up plans from the previous meeting). This particular meeting focused on aggressive behavior and using effective consequences following instances of aggressive behavior. We discussed as a group the kinds of aggressive behavior and gave each one an operational definition so as to have a consistent approach. If a child is aware that they will receive consequences for a specific behavior and the line between that isn’t murky, they’ll be less likely to repeat said behavior. If the behavior isn’t clearly defined but the child receives either too strong or too weak consequences, it’ll be confusing for the kid to keep up with the expectations placed on them.
It’s been interesting to see the integration of the Coping Cat and Coping Power groups in the daily fabric of the program. Coping Cat is centered around strategies to help manage anxiety whereas Coping Power has a stronger anger management core. Both groups run simultaneously for a period of about 40 minutes twice a week with kids broken up into their respective groups based on their needs (if their daily struggles are sparked by anger versus anxiety). One student in particular has been fascinating to observe and interact with because he is triggered by actions that are not targeting him in any way, such as a lead counselor in his group asking the class to double check their work or a him (amongst a group of students) not being able to swing in the park because they did not effectively manage their time. His reactive behavior is typically aggressive, he’ll stomp and yell and he seems to go to a very rigid, distracted place (for lack of a better expression, he begins to see red). I’ve noticed that keeping a very calm demeanor and smiling at him/encouraging him to smile with me sometimes works to get him out of this negative place, but it only works for a handful of counselors, and since I am not this particular student’s academic instructor I wonder if he disassociates me with an academic authoritative figure which thus may make me more relatable/easier to get him to calm down. With all that being said, I’ve noticed a tremendous improvement in how this student calms his anxiety down. After speaking with him about taking deep breaths, modeling it for him, and having him practice it with me, I’ve noticed him implement this into his daily battles with frustrating scenarios and it has helped reduce the amount of breaks he has to take.
My attempt at having a more positive mindset when talking to the other student from last week seems to be effective. In paying attention to his positive attributes, especially attending to how the aspects of his personality that might commonly be misconstrued as negative can be positive if expressed in a way that isn’t detrimental to others. He’s been more receptive when I give him instructions and this shift in mindset has helped create a more positive classroom tone during the academic subjects that I lead.
The first day of the program was moderately hectic because were only just beginning to set up our daily routine and kids were getting used to the point reinforcement/punishment system. We were also getting a feel for what each child actually functioned like throughout the day and how they interacted with the structure of our activities. As we learned about each student individually and in the context of the group, we also had to keep in mind that this was only the first day and the way they may present initially could be completely different from what to expect from their behavior throughout the course of the program.
The most difficult thing to get used to was giving CALM expectations for every period. CALM is an acronym that stands for communication, assigned task, location, and movement. The CALM expectations that we give are standards within each category formed to clearly lay out what students need to do to succeed for the period. They are meant to ease the positive reinforcement we give because there are clear expectations outlined through which they can be praised on, and they are entirely aware of what they need to do to succeed. It is also easier to give differential attention to those following the CALM expectations to get everyone back on track when there are clear expectations outlined; for example, if a student was rolling around on the rug, I could praise other students for sitting with still bodies and accounting for each other’s personal space on the rug. CALM expectations were supposed to be given at every transition within each period (for example, transitions to set up the lesson, beginning the skill drill, or working independently). Initially, these remembering to give these CALM expectations felt both robotic and overwhelming.
Naturally, the second day felt more routine. I found myself remembering to conduct point checks at the end of every period, but I still felt weird making assessments about what the kids needs were and how to best support their ADHD/anxiety/behavioral disorders throughout the day. It felt like I was troubleshooting how to interact with specific students, and I was hyper aware of things that would potentially trigger a response. This hesitation hindered my practice because it was like I was tiptoeing around my own students.
By the middle of the week and throughout the end of the week, though, I felt much more comfortable both calling out negative behavior and instructing with positive opposites to help correct this behavior sans negative/punitive language. During our daily staff meetings that recap the day, crisis situations, logistics with how smoothly the day ran, our strengths and weaknesses throughout the day, and any behavioral modifications for specific students, I found myself being able to pinpoint how situations with students could have improved and what I could have done better as an instructor accounting for all of their behavioral disorders.
Over the past couple of weeks I have engaged in training sessions to prepare me for my summer internship with the Columbia University Medical Center, specifically in the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders. The program is called BUDS and focuses on treating kids diagnosed with ADHD and behavioral disorders to prepare them to cohesively participate in various school settings. The kids are aged 6 to 9, and their goals all vary based on the individual needs. The ADHD manifests itself in different ways, from anxiety to a lack of regulation of emotions like anger or excitement, as well as low attention spans and bodies constantly in motion. The program will follow a schedule that embodies a fusion of camp and school, with plenty of unstructured time (morning playtime, lunch/snack, and two recesses), structured academic time (reading, writing, and math), and semi-academic time (physical education, social skill building, morning meeting, and coping skill building).
The training covered the rules and expectations of the program (this includes the rules students are going to have to abide by to succeed in their individual treatment plans), scaffolding activity types, how to give an effective command, positive reinforcement, the token economy system, consequences, ignorable behavior, response cost, time outs, crisis management, and daily procedures. Much of the content revolved around creating an operational definition for every behavior identified (for example, what constitutes verbally aggressive behavior, what is positive reinforcement, etc.) to unify everyone’s perception of how to go about implementing the procedures of the program. We also participated in skill drills to practice specific procedures and increase our fluency with giving effective commands, positively reinforcing desired behavior, and delivering consequences for unwanted actions (including but not limited to skin picking, using unkind language, and leaving the activity area without asking).
Our skill drills were similar to some of my experiences in education classes in the sense that my coworkers played roles of students with all types of personalities, styles of interacting, and distracting tendencies, which was helpful to paint a more realistic scenario of the context we would later be put in. At times it felt overwhelming because we were adamant on sticking to the script of each protocol and making sure to include an even distribution of types of positive reinforcement given (labeled praise, reflection, behavior description, and social/token reinforcement) to better prepare ourselves for every situation, when sometimes our instincts were telling us to handle a pretend situation otherwise.
We went over schedules of reinforcement to establish the type of reinforcement schedules we’d be utilizing to give points throughout the day. Since praise should be given immediately either during or following the desired behavior, fixed interval point checks were decided to be the most fitting schedule of reinforcement for unstructured activities like recess where kids are running around the gymnasium or morning play, where they are free to roam the classroom.
My favorite aspect of the training program was how open the program director was to feedback and improvement on the implementation of the program. Since this is its first run, counselors got a lot of say in contributing to the structure of the program, from the content of academic and social instruction to the procedures utilized for praise.
As my internship nears its close, I’ve really started to reflect on just how incredible this experience has been. The work environment my team and I have cultivated has made our assignments all the more efficient and enjoyable to complete. While I have always understood why teamwork and community is so vital in the workplace, I feel as though this particular journey has truly illustrated the benefits of a cohesive, well running machine in the form of a 3-person team. We played to each other’s strengths and had an understanding of how our individual, specific roles could propel our work forward for the better.
Our collaborative work ethic was best demonstrated in our group project – through not graded, the Network Operations Intern Team was expected to research a topic of our choosing that involved education. It was extremely broad in the expectations since the main goal was to provide us an opportunity to explore a topic in education while also having access to the school’s resources and staff as an information base as well. My team and I were most interested in race and education, so we decided to center our topic around that and further specify our interest in the school-to-prison pipeline.
Instead of doing a standard presentation that involved talking at our audience, my team and I wanted to provoke discussion and actually engage our supervisors and fellow colleagues in our research. We incited dialogue by including discussion questions throughout our slides and calling on individual experiences with over-policing in the school system, as well as utilizing various school experiences to contrast our unique backgrounds with regard to the school system. One intern on our team is majoring in communications at his college and is a talkative people-person, so he focused on reaching out to potential resources for the project and gave us direction in terms of what our project should look like aesthetically. Another intern on our team is a psychology and Africana studies double major, and she was really interested in the history of this particular topic and how it has affected racial tensions in schools presently. Correlating with my studies as a future public school teacher, I was interested in the potential trajectory of our topic – how we can make changes in the present for a better future? What are different approaches and content we can teach the potential future leaders of our country to diffuse these racial tensions and rid the institutional racism that is prevalent in our education system today?
In addition to the research project, another opportunity I was given was the recording of a 1st grade math labsite. I was extremely excited when I was tasked with this responsibility since this is the grade I hope to teach once I graduate. Since this labsite was supposed to focus on problem solving in math, a skillset students often have difficulty with, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to see real teachers work with real students live and help them understand the concept (as much as they could in a 45-minute window). The concept of problem solving for younger kids tends to be a difficult one because it's essentially creating a story and assigning deeper meanings to typically arbitrary numbers – sometimes that deeper meaning goes over the kids' heads, so the way it is presented and broken down is vital.
Originally I sat in on a 3rd grade math curriculum planning session but I never got to see teachers actively partaking in the education of children, only them discussing it. With a labsite, I actually had the opportunity to see teachers put actions to their practice and interact with children. While I was partially there to learn what to do right, I was also able to get an observer’s perspective and see what could be improved, allowing me to reflect on what I'd like to incorporate or do better on when I teach my own class. This labsite would be slightly different in that two co-teachers would take half of the class, and another pair of co-teachers would take the other class and each would teach the class on different sides of the room.
The double lab site would eventually exhibit a weakness in testing certain teaching methods out because the students would get distracted with what their peers were learning on the opposite side of the room. One group of teachers had much louder voices while the other pair were more on the quiet side, which seemed to affect how frequently they had their students’ attention. One particular model teacher seemed like she needed to be more comfortable with an awkward wait time. She would often only gives a short amount of time to think or answer, and considering they were only in 1st grade, I don't think they had adequate time to ponder what the numbers in the word problem symbolized. Although students were given colorful math block manipulatives, I think there needed to be a stronger connection between what the manipulatives stood for versus what they actually were.
As I first mentioned, this internship has taught me a lot in terms of teamwork, but it’s also taught me a lot about myself. I came into this position nervous because it was a realm of education I’d never experienced before – I’d never heard of an operations department for a school, I’d never I’d never even so much as entered a charter school, so I was filled to the brim with questions and confusion about what my job expectations would be. My first day, a hectic foreshadowing of the journey to come, did little to nothing to calm my nerves, but I found that over the course of my time here, I’d grown accustomed to – even comfortable in – the frenzied, consistently chaotic work environment. I imagine it’d be the same for kids in a classroom setting – while routine is vital in the classroom, so is breaking the routine to maintain interest. In subjects like math and science where students usually have a process of steps to follow, this method of changing it up and breaking routine is imperative – students need to see a variety of ways to solve a math problem, they need to understand that diverse ways of viewing their content is a good practice. I’ve come to realize that no matter what I do in education, no two days will look the same, and to be quite honest, they shouldn’t. While I wasn’t working directly in the department I plan to be, having a constantly changing job description helped keep me on my toes while it also allowed me to maintain an interest in the work I’m doing. This is an invaluable lesson that I definitely want to maintain in my future classroom, and I’m so grateful I had this internship and opportunity to learn it.
My projects at HVA continue to revolve around standard intern responsibilities, such as making coffee, setting up room layouts last minute, making copies, distributing supplies, putting together binders, and the like, but it’s definitely started to fall into a more concrete rhythm. I’m more confident in my responsibilities and I have a better idea of how to take initiative of certain projects that keep me busy throughout the day. Additionally, the other interns and I have become fairly close, so our efficiency when completing tasks as a team has drastically increased.
The past two weeks have definitely been more STEM focused than my first two. With the actual start of Institute, I had to assemble cameras and set up the recording for all of the professional development sessions. A lot of maintenance work was needed to help fix or connect SmartBoard speakers, projector, ELMO document cameras, and the copy machine, but I would usually shadow the person in charge of the building’s tech and once they show me how to fix the problem, I’m able to do it on my own whenever there’s a tech complaint.
The highlight of this internship so far came during the middle of my fourth week here, when I finished all of my tasks for the day. Since none of my supervisors nor the teachers participating in Institute needed anything and I had extra down time, one of my supervisors recommended I sit in on a professional development session regarding 3rd grade math curriculum synthesis/review. The experience was an engaging and interesting one to say the least. The curriculum HVA uses has everything planned down to the lesson every single day. Their lesson plans include not only a lesson template including an interactive PowerPoint that takes advantage of the SmartBoard’s features, but also a page with teacher notes. The teacher notes include potential misconceptions, where the lesson fits into the school year as well as the unit timeline, a description of all the slides – including what the coach’s vision and intention was for the lesson – and space to edit and add on to the lesson notes for other teachers to utilize when they teach the lesson.
The session began with the teachers collectively viewing the curriculum and just talking about it generally. They discussed the timeline and what units would be taught when and for how long (fractions are a huge 3rd grade unit and would have several weeks dedicated to it). Since the timeline was broken down based on need, teachers could propose ideas for bigger projects and how they’d fit into the timeline. At one point, a teacher asked about what they should do on test days/if those days would be devoted to fun, recreational activities. The facilitator then responded that while the students should definitely not be expected to complete mentally strenuous, challenging tasks, teachers should refrain from just giving them free fun time so as not to have students rushing through their tests to get to the fun activities. Instead it should be something calmer and mentally relaxing, like independent reading, essentially an educational brain break (academic free time). This is something I never really thought about as a soon-to-be teacher, so I think implementing elements of this would be a good idea for my future classroom.
The session then started to take more focus on multiplication, division, and area. The teachers and myself were given an assessment and were told to take it through a child’s lens. While taking the assessment, we were asked to mark or take notes of any confusing questions and unclear wording. Once those 15 minutes were up, the facilitator asked how we felt about the assessment. It received generally positive feedback, but then the facilitator mentioned that the assessment we’d just taken had actually received a lot of push back from teachers for being too difficult. As we went over it question by question, complaints and questions about it started to arise. The very first question was a multi step multiplication problem that required close reading, and a lot of teachers actually messed up on it and had to go back. It seemed like the overarching theme of the entire session was that the teachers need to teach the content with meaning. Each number in an equation should have purpose in the sense that students should understand what each number represents in a word problem. The focus shouldn’t be on “is my answer right” but rather “what is the question asking and what does it mean?” The students understanding the deeper meaning of what they’re doing is necessary for them to closely read and correctly answer questions, and more importantly have comprehension of what they are learning.
I was given another opportunity to sit in on professional development when we discovered an issue with the cameras that were recording the sessions – they would only record the first 12 minutes, and after that the videos would cut off. Since the cameras had enough memory and they were fully charged, we assumed it had to be an issue with the cameras going on powersave mode. We decided to man the cameras to ensure they were recording the full 3-hour sessions, so I was able to sit in on an extra professional development session this past week, and will be able to sit in on a lot more in the coming weeks.
The second professional development session I sat in on focused on routine and beginning of the year procedures. It seems like such a minor concept, but the month of September really sets the precedent for the remainder of the school year. The facilitator of the session really grounded in the importance of modeling and mapping out your beginning of the year routines, from how students walk in to what their initial responsibilities will be and how they will conduct them upon walking in to students understanding why these routines are so important. It was interesting to see the way the professional development sessions are run because the leader of the session usually uses modeling as a subtle but huge way to drive home the content they are trying to get across. The facilitator will use things like start signals, having teachers reflect before receiving feedback, Turn and Talks, creating charts together, and using language the teachers should use to address their students in these sessions. Even the Institute itself provides snack breaks and materials necessary to have the best possible sessions they can, which is partially while the role of the intern team is so vital.
I would like to try and sit in on more curriculum developing sessions because it was extremely fascinating to watch current teachers analyze an assessment that seemed perfectly fine and point out what needs to be improved on both the teachers sides as well as with the actual assessment itself. I would also like to participate a bit more because I was much more timid throughout my first two professional development sit ins. I also know there are a few lab sites approaching in the coming weeks, so I would like the chance to observe how the teachers actually interact with the children they’ve been hypothetically referring to for the past couple of weeks.
For the past two weeks I have been working at Harlem Village Academy West Elementary as a Network Operations Intern. My job revolves around the behind-the-scenes planning of the Summer Institute, a month long professional development intensive for the teachers and administrators of HVA. I was a little surprised when going over my task list and essentially the expectations I would have to meet for the first week, as my duties involved a lot of smaller, more tedious tasks such as distributing supplies to every classroom, setting up bulletin boards, and organizing tables and chairs in specific configurations to meet every workshop leader’s needs. My coworkers and I had anticipated work that would focus on technology assistance, data analysis, and purchasing, as those were all key facets of the position description we saw when initially applying for the internship. In reality, we were met with a lot of active running around and initial setting up, as the Institute had not yet begun.
Initially, it was difficult to see how my duties were assisting with the actual implementation of and benefitting a student’s STEM education. How were these meager contributions of rearranging chairs and desks and ensuring that all rooms were stocked with chart paper, markers, pens, and the like actually making a difference in a child’s appreciation for and understanding of the STEM field? Upon speaking with my supervisor, she explained that a lot of the Network Operations job is perfecting the smaller details that allow the professional development institute and summer school to run seamlessly – essentially the glue that holds everything together. Without our department, teachers would be left to do a lot of the tedious but necessary work to help their classrooms run, such as retrieving materials and scanning books into the class library and setting up the Smartboard, and wouldn’t have as much time to dedicate to their classrooms and professional development to better their teaching. These behind-the- scenes projects are trying to maximize teachers and administrators’ time spent focusing on how to better their classrooms and the school as a whole so their attention isn't shifted to the more tedious jobs that need to be handled. All of our seemingly minor contributions were parts of the larger machine that is a successful school year.
The second week was a bit more exciting in that my daily projects started to focus more on technology and less on the physical movement of furniture. At the end of the previous week, my supervisor and I had a conversation about my specific interests and what I really want to gain from the internship, which allowed me to express the skills I wanted to refine and develop, and essentially get everything I could from my time here. As an aside, I plan on becoming an elementary school teacher, but the thought of navigating Smartboards, document cameras, audio equipment, and just general technology that I wasn’t familiar with during my elementary school education has always been a bit daunting. That’s partially why coming across this internship seemed like an exciting and educational opportunity – I would finally have a chance to get comfortable with not only setting up this very technology, but also trouble-shooting and fixing the very technology that has always intimidated me. I was finally given plenty of practice, as one of my projects was finding the cables for, connecting, and fixing all of the technology equipment (i.e. the aforementioned Smartboards, audio, document cameras, phone, etc.) in every classroom in the school.
Additionally, we also started to begin day with a daily morning meeting, where we the Network Operations team (both the supervisors and the interns) could bring in articles to discuss that pertain to the world of education. The first day we started this, we talked about charter schools, and their benefits and negatives. Since anyone can bring in content to discuss, I’m interested in sparking a discussion on how to inspire and support more women of color in the STEM education field, while also analyzing HVA’s science an math departments, hopefully gaining insight on how to successfully implement an elementary STEM program or build a better one. I’m also interested in finding articles on how technology has altered the way we learn, and both the pros and cons of this advance in our education system. My fellow interns and I were assigned a bigger overarching project to span the entire internship, where we would pick a focus and eventually present on the final day of our internship. As a collective, we decided to focus on race in education and how it alters the various means and degrees of discipline that students receive.
The best part about my internship is that the needs change on a weekly basis. It seems every week has a specific focus; the first week was moving furniture and laying out the desks in a configuration that would best facilitate conversation, while the second week revolved more around ensuring the technology in the room works well and efficiently. Over the course of the next few weeks, I look forward to igniting conversations that help align my team's tasks with the bigger picture of STEM education, whether it's starting these discussions casually or within the confines of our morning think tanks. Once the actual Institute starts, I'm excited to head the video recording and archiving project of professional development sessions and lab sites, as it will allow me to acclimate to recording a class environment (great prep for when I need to record my own student teaching lessons in the coming Fall semester!) while sitting on informative sessions. After discussing my interests with my supervisor, she briefly mentioned taking part in the lab sites and helping teachers during the first week of school, which happens to overlap with my final week at HVA. Apparently there will be some down time throughout the day depending on the day's needs, so I have also expressed interest in shadowing summer school teachers and helping with classroom management and lessons. I’m excited to turn my goals into realities and discover more opportunities to connect my internship to STEM education.