Well after an epic meltdown on Friday and Saturday of week 1, and considering giving up on my dream of being a teacher, I returned to my class. Most of this week was a good week. I continued to teach data analysis in math. Teaching though is much more than content and what you are teaching. Its more about how you are teaching, how you are responding and what you are seeing, and there is a lot to see in a classroom.
Content is important in teaching and it is important to know your content well. In preparing for this block, I spent a lot of my time learning my content and brushing up on graphing in Grade 4. I felt very confident in my content knowledge and I thought that would be most of what I needed to be effective as a teacher. How wrong I was. There are so many moving parts to teaching and those parts change frequently.
One of the biggest parts to teaching is how you respond to the students. Responding isn’t just about answering their questions. Response includes how often you call on a particular student or students, what order you respond to hands up when they are working. It is also about how you respond when they give you an answer that isn’t appropriate to the question, it is about how you respond when they share a bit about their life when they are supposed to be doing math and when they are off task, once twice or more times. Responding and the huge impact it has on your teaching and the students was so eye opening for me.
I found you spend much of your time responding in one way or other to students, while y teaching ,when they are working,when they are coming in or leaving. One of the big eye openers I had in responding was when my teaching partner and co-op, as part of data collection for my PDP, noted that I responded to almost all boys’ questions and helped them while they were working. It was bad enough that many of the girls stopped raising their hand. I had no idea I was doing this until it was pointed out. It was not something I was doing consciously nor was I intending to neglect the girls. I thought as I helped students I was attending to everyone. I was so shocked and glad to have that information. After that I tried to be more aware of who I was helping or asking to answer. I was reluctant to call on students who were not volunteering. It worked out I was calling on the same few people. My co-op gave me some tips on calling on the non-volunteers without making them feel bad. Calling on non-volunteers is also a good way to keep them focused, who knew.
There were other positives about the week. I managed to make a review on google slides and then use the smart board to show it. If you know me using that simple tech is a very big accomplishment. I also played 4 corners to do the review which was also something very new to me as well. I stretched even further and we worked in groups for a graphing assignment, with 2 groups in the hallway. These things came about from feedback I was receiving. Although I like the group work and the active learning, the classroom management in these situations holds me back. I am working on it, putting all the moving parts together slowly. Maybe I will have some of the parts working in sync before my 3 weeks are up.
A quick aside, its amazing how insulted you get when “your kids” get unfairly accused of making noise when its older students making all the noise, I made sure to tell my co-op it wasn’t our students.
Stay tuned for what week 3 will bring, I teach a whole half day that week.