My fall semester student teaching placement was at P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep in the Chelsea area of Manhattan. About 630 students from grades pre-k through fifth grade are enrolled at P.S. 33. The school follows the Common Core State Standards and has a large Gifted and Talented program. One classroom in each grade level is reserved for only gifted and talented children. Students must meet specific academic requirements in order to gain admission into the program. I was placed in a general education kindergarten classroom. The class consisted of 18 students and one teacher. Seven of the students were English Language Learners. These students received both push-in and pull-out services.
A new principal joined the school at the same time I did. Consequently, the school was still adjusting to changes during my student teaching experience. P.S. 33 is located near a large housing project and, as a result, many of the students in my class were from families that struggled financially. Teachers in the school struggle to get families involved in their children’s school experience. They find it challenging to communicate and build and maintain constructive relationships with their student’s families. Therefore, both students often don’t receive the help they need outside of the classroom to support their learning.
My spring semester student teaching placement was at P.S. 290 Manhattan New School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The school serves approximately 670 students from kindergarten through fifth grade. Each grade level offers one Integrated Co-Teaching class. In these classrooms, one general education and one special education teacher work together to serve the 17% of the student population that have special needs alongside typically developing students. About 10% of students attending P.S. 290 are economically disadvantaged. A large majority of students’ families are highly involved in their children's school experience. The school has a really strong PTA and families are often eager to assist teachers and staff, both in and out of the classroom, in any way possible.
P.S. 290 follows the Common Core State Standards and places extra emphasis on literacy instruction. Instead of following one specific curriculum model, teachers are encouraged to utilize their knowledge to deliver instruction that best supports their students’ learning styles and needs. The second grade teachers meet with a literacy specialist about once each week for support and guidance. Teachers have extensive knowledge about many programs and strategies for language and literacy instruction. They rely heavily on the Teachers College Reading and Writing Program for curriculum and assessment when planning and implementing instruction. However, they also draw on the influences of several different curriculum models.
I completed my student teaching experience in a general education second grade class with 28 students, 13 male and 15 female, and one teacher. Within my classroom, there were for four English Language Learners. These students received push-in services. Additionally, the class had one struggling reader. Teachers supported this student by breaking down tasks and instructions. This student also received one-on-one reading instruction twice a week. Lastly, there was one student with a hearing impairment that wears hearing aids at all times. This student receives pull-out services for one hour every week. In the classroom, this student sits directly in front of the teacher.