Mary Lou’s Mentorship Experience with SJ at Hillcrest Elementary

My name is Mary Lou Keirns and I teach Kindergarten at Hillcrest Elementary in Northglenn, Colorado. I have taught for 28 years in Kindergarten and First Grade. SJ was my teacher cadet from January 31, 2013 to April 26, 2013.

SJ was easy to work with and took to the children quickly.  Kindergarteners love to talk and it was very easy and relaxed for SJ to answer the children in the proper way. She always made it a point to come in each morning and circulate the room as the students were entering. We call this a “relaxed start”. SJ took care of collecting the children’s daily folders and checking them in for me. She learned to take out the homework if there was any and collect any important notes. I allowed her to grade their homework and at the end of her experience, she brought the children up to the table who had more than three mistakes to correct it. SJ was also responsible for conferencing with two children who needed extra help during writing time. I also let her pick two others each day to visit with and help at writing. I loved when I would look over and see her laughing and enjoying the children’s stories.

She made a huge difference during writing time being an extra teacher in the room. SJ watched me for the first week and easily took to what I would do with each student during writing encouraging the children to resource the room or their tubs on their tables. She did a cute lesson for the kids during Easter week where she modeled a story of what she had done at Easter. They went back to their seats and completed an Easter story. It was a great experience for all! During reading, it was SJ’s responsibility to work with all children. She engaged in Kindergarten sight word practice, sight word games, reading the books of the day with each child in a group format, playing beginning sound games, rhyme games and alphabet games. She was a favorite of the kids and they all wanted their turn with her! If Sam was there during math time, I had her work with the children who needed extra practice.

I think the activity I liked best was SJ doing a bulletin board. Eric Carle was our author of the month and we did some paintings like Eric Carle would do. SJ took pictures of each child and glued them on a green circle. Each of these circles were part of Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar. She cut out a caterpillar face and made a board with their paintings and the caterpillar with each of their faces on it. SO so cute and it is still hanging up in the main hallway!

SJ also had the experience of joining my grade level in a weekly meeting. She sat and listened to us collaborate and plan our weekly lessons. SJ had planned on joining us on a field trip to the zoo, but we had lots of snow and the trip was postponed. She also had the chance to do recess duty with me as well! That was an experience as she watched 100 kiddos run around on a playground! I loved having SJ in the room! Any extra teacher is only a benefit for the children! The children totally loved her and respected her! Sue Less did a wonderful job preparing her students for the classroom experience. YEA for the Teacher Cadet Program!

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