Week 3

After a rough week 1 and week 2, this last week turned out to be a good week and out of the ordinary I started my week with my required half day teaching.  Instead of being nervous, I was super excited to manage the morning mostly alone.  I did realize that I do need some more classroom management skills especially in the area of what do when you can’t keep the students quiet after you have used several of your tricks.  They stop and pay attention for a short while and then start talking.  I know part of it is to make the material more engaging but I am not sure how to make writing weekly spelling words, more interesting.  I did have some fun activities planned for after we were done the list.  There are just somethings that we have to plod through to get to the fun stuff. I had a lot of fun with my math lesson this day. We played Rock Paper Scissors to create, organize and graph data.  It was fun.

Tuesday was an unusual day in that I taught two of my math lessons in one day. One in the morning and the other in the afternoon.  This was to accommodate my teaching partner’s half day on Wednesday.  In the morning we went for a walk to collect data about the signs around our school so we could graph it later in the day.  Lesson learned that day is if the students need a chart or something to collect data on, have it pre-made for them.  It takes some students a long time to create a simple chart.  That delayed us getting outside and started on our walk, so we were only able to go half the distance.  In the afternoon lesson we graphed  our data and did a final worksheet.

Wednesday was my teaching partner’s half day, and she taught in the dark for part of the morning.  The power was out in the west of the city until about 10 am.  I was able to see the innovation and unflappableness of teachers in action.  While my partner was teaching our grade 4’s, I  visited other classrooms.  I got to visit the Grade 5’s and see a lesson on text types and then I got visit the other Grade 4’s and see them participate in Literature circles.

Thursday brought me way out of the ordinary.  I was able to observe a Grade 10 English class and while I was there a lock down drill happened, first time ever for me.  After English I sat in on an ESL class with the same teacher.  She has such a great relationship with all her students.  I hope I can develop connections like that.  I taught my math lesson at the very end of the day.  It was my lesson to incorporate Treaty Education into Math.  We read the book Stolen Words, talked about how language was a treaty promise that was broken, then we looked at statistics of Indigenous language speakers in Canada. We then practiced making keys with larger numbers.  Part of a key is a symbol and a student suggested using a feather, which lead to a discussion of stereotypes. It was a great last day teaching a formal lesson.

Friday was play day.  My teaching partner and I designed an escape room activity that reviewed content from their learning in different subject areas over the 3 weeks we were there.  We brought cupcakes for dessert at lunch and then we played games all afternoon.  Finally it was time for the students to leave for home.  Hugs, tears, high fives and laughter ensued as the students said good-bye. I will miss them.

It was great learning experience with some ups and some downs. I have learned a lot about teaching, its not easy in any way but the students capture your heart and try your patience but they are what makes me want to head to internship. I can’t wait for my new placement and to make new connections.  My first class though will always hold a special place in my heart.

 

 

Half day of teaching

In pre-internship one of our requirements is that we teach a half-day.  In that half-day we teach the whole morning or afternoon and all the subject that are scheduled for that day.  I did my half-day at the beginning of my third week. I was responsible for their board work when they came in as well as ELA, Spelling and the Math unit I have been teaching all along.  Another requirement is that our co-op leaves the room for short periods of time during our teaching.

Overall I thought the day went very well.  A couple of things that I noticed almost right away was that I need to expand my repertoire of tricks and skills for dealing with the class, when even after being asked several times, they don’t stop talking and pay attention.  I reverted to the good old if we don’t get through this you will have this for homework. While sometimes that is what has to happen, it is not something that should be used often. I reverted to that because I had no idea what to do what while I was in the middle of it.  I will definitely be brushing up on my tricks for this before internship.

The other notable thing was that when I had free rein of the time schedule I wasn’t as time conscious as I usually am and then ended up rushing through each subject to get done.  Rushing children is never a good idea because then they end up with a bunch of homework which is what happened.  In ELA we ran out of time because I had this sense that I could actually read a picture book quickly with out stopping to discuss every page. I don’t know why I thought that, in all my years of reading books to children I have rarely read a story straight through without a discussion

I do feel that in the case of the not listening that had I been able to continue the lesson the next day, I would have been comfortable waiting for the students to listen each time and taking all the time I needed to finish.  I did feel the pressure in both the Spelling and ELA that I taught to get what I planned done because it would be the only time I would be teaching those subjects.  I have been a little better in math not rushing because I know I have the next day to continue as it was my ongoing unit.

Overall my half day was great. I felt more comfortable teaching as my co-op was in and out of the rooms so my every move wasn’t as closely watched this time.  That is not to say my co-op is harsh but it was freeing not to be evaluated all the time.

We’ll see how this finishes for the rest of the week.

 

 

A not so ordinary day

Today was an unique day that deserves a write up.  It was unique in that when we arrived at the school we had no power the same as several other schools in the area.  It was business as usual though. The students were excited by the unexpected outage. They soon settled down and got to work, until we were brought a lantern to use in the classroom.  A discussion ensued about the best place to put the lantern. It is interesting how the littlest things that are unusual get students off track even in Grade 4. I was able to observe the creativity of the teachers to adapt quickly to make changes to their plans that were affected by the lack of power.  Teachers who had smaller windows/no windows had students sitting in the hallway working by the light that came through doors and other classroom windows. On days like today I am glad that I don’t often rely on technology in my teaching, although in my observations the lack of access to tech did not phase any of the teachers I was fortunate to observe. The power came back on and everything carried on like there was no disruption or power outage.

 

The two big takeaways from today were that as a teacher you need to be flexible and adaptable to whatever the situation needs and you need to always have a back -up plan for those situations, maybe even a back-up plan for your back-up plan.  

 

Week 2- I didn’t quit.

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.

 

Not what I expected

I started my 3 week pre-internship block on March 11th.  I was very excited to see the students and my co-op teacher again.  I was also very happy to be spending some time with my teaching partner.  I haven’t seen her all semester as we have no classes together.

I spent the weekend prior preparing my visuals, lesson plans, and Personal development Plans( PDPs).  I felt mostly ready to take on this 3 week challenge of learning and growing.   I was a bit nervous Sunday night at returning.  Nerves after being away so long, but also nerves that these 3 weeks would be the turning point in my dream to be a teacher.  Would I be good enough to get a recommendation to move onto internship was what I was most concerned about.

We arrived at the school Monday morning, coffees and supplies for our lessons in hand.  Walking through the hall we received a warm welcome from all the staff.  We set up and and caught up with our co-op.  The best part though was when the bell rang, and the students came in.  We received hugs, and enthusiastic welcomes.  It was a great start to the block.

Onto the purpose of our return to the school, teaching lessons.  This time it was the same subject everyday for 3 weeks, 13 lessons.  We have 2 days in our block where we don’t teach, one is parent teacher conferences and the other is a PD day.   My subject of choice is Math specifically Data Analysis.  I like math and that is why I chose it.  Lessons 1 and 2 went well that is until the post conference after lesson 2.  I was going about the order in a way that isn’t the best.  Oh boy, that was really disheartening.  I am really glad I took the advice of my professors and only planned the first four lessons for the week, not to much work to redo.  However, it is exhausting being in school everyday when you are used to being the student all day. It is really hard to plan a lesson every night when you are so tired, add in making up PDPs for each lesson based on the feed back from the day, every night it was overwhelming to say the least.

I would like to tell you that my week changed and ended well but it didn’t.  I was so exhausted, frustrated and overwhelmed that I came home Friday and spent that evening and Saturday in tears, seriously contemplating giving up my dream of teaching.  I also want to say that my feelings had nothing to do with my placement, my co-op and Faculty Advisor are amazing and so very supportive.  I also want to say that there will be a week 2 post because I did return on Monday.

Pop! Week 6.

This week in Grade 4 I taught about stress responses in the body.  I started the lesson by inducing a small stress response.  I had the students close their eyes and an take a few deep breaths, to reduce stress.  While we were doing that, I had prearranged with my teaching partner to pop a balloon, to startle them.  It had the desired effect, most of the students were startled.

We then proceeded to have a discussion about how their body reacted to the surprise.  The discussion wasn’t going the direction I wanted it too, and the students weren’t understanding what I was trying to get at.  So, plan B, improvise on the fly like a good teacher does. The students are reading the City of Ember, and were at the part where Lena, the main character loses her sister.  The story goes on to describe Lena’s bodily reactions to stress. I used that as an example of what I was trying to get at and it worked we got on the right track and a great discussion that lead us into a story, with an ebook.

We then discussed rather than read word for word the book Stressed Out by Michelle Prather.  I had planned to read the book but found the students were getting a bit antsy sitting, so I turned it into more of a discussion rather than a story.  We had fun with the discussion.  It was funny when we got to the part about clenching teeth and I clenched mine the students followed right along.  I knew then they were all paying attention.  We ended our lesson using another new to me tool the parking lot.  A good friend explained it to me and I liked the idea. The parking lot is similar to a KWL chart, but for this the students write one take away on a sticky note and put it in the parking lot.  Of course, the kids love writing on sticky notes. I think another good lesson with some valuable learning for me as a teacher and for the students.

Professional Development Plans

This section includes the PDP’s that our co-op teacher had to fill out for each lesson we taught.  We were given goals to work on for the first 6 weeks and there was prescribed things the co-op was looking for in those weeks.  The predetermined criteria was interesting but I found the comments that my co-op teacher made in addition to be much more useful, in terms of knowing what I did well and what could use some work.

Here is a sample of some PDP;s

Health Stress Responses

Phys.Ed. Dribbling

Social Studies Introduction to the Buffalo

Student Profiles

For this assignment we were asked to choose 3 student we worked with this semester at our placement, and tell about them and where they excel and what they are still working on.  Generally, I think most people choose those students who present a behavioural challenge in the classroom.  The classroom I was placed in doesn’t have any students that present huge behavioural challenges so it was a little more difficult to choose 3 students.

This is the profile, I also left the comments visible from my instructor.  I didn’t have a chance to add or put any of the suggestions to work as the semester ended before I had a chance.  I do plan to review these profiles and try some of the suggestions when I return for my 3 week block in March.

Story Time- Week 5

After a few days off from University classes which included a break from our placement, I was excited to get back to my students.  It feels a bit strange to say “my students” because technically I guess they really aren’t. However, it is equally as strange to just say “the students” because to me that implies there is no connection and that is not true.  I missed being at the school on our days off and as our time with them is quickly coming to a close, I am going to miss them a lot.

The connections with the students are becoming deeper, more than me being just a novelty in the classroom.  Students are beginning to share more about their personal lives with us(my co pre- intern and I). One student, who is very shy, is finding her voice around us.  She sought me out one day to tell me about a book she was reading and this past week even put her hand up to answer a question. That is a good feeling. I find they engage in classroom topics with us at a different level too.  Maybe that is because we are more confident now in teaching our lessons and are finding our groove in engaging the students. Which brings me to the lesson I taught this week.

This lesson was a Social Studies lesson, my favourite subject.  It was a lesson that was new to me in all aspects. It was a lesson that outcome and indicator were from the regular curriculum requirements as well as Treaty Education requirements.  I have never been party of Treaty Ed. in the classroom so to teach it was a bit intimidating at first. I also used a KWL(what do we know, want to know and want to learn) chart, something that was new to me as well.  The lesson was an introduction to the unit my cooperating teacher is starting. The unit is on the importance of the buffalo to First Nations communities.

My job was to introduce the buffalo to the students.  We started with a picture of the buffalo on the smart board and filled in the K(what do we know) portion of our chart.  I, as well as their teacher, was surprised at how much they knew about the buffalo and the importance to First Nations people.  After we finished the K portion we moved on to the W (what do we want to know) and again they had some great answers. There were a couple of times were I had to decipher a bit what the student was getting at but we got to the point.  We then moved on to the best part of the lesson reading a story. I love reading stories to kids. We read Honouring the Buffalo, which is a Cree legend.  Most of the students were very interested and engaged in the story and we had an amazing discussion of the book.  The discussion was so good we had to rush to finish our L(what we learned) on our KWL chart. The contributions were great and there were so many hands up.  So much fun. I can’t wait until next week, because I am sure they are going to tell me all the new things they have discovered about the buffalo while I am not there.

 

A Classroom Lesson- week 4

Today was my fourth week in my pre-internship.  I got to teach a lesson in the classroom today after teaching in the gym and outside my previous 2 weeks. My lesson was on writing a persuasive letter.  The lesson went well for a subject than can be kind of dry to grade 4’s and even this learning teacher.

I chose to do a lesson on writing a persuasive letter because I thought it might be fun and it fits into the curriculum requirements as well.  I knew going into the lesson that it would require a fair amount of sitting and listening from the students and that can be hard to do for adults never mind 9 and 10 year olds.  The students did really well and I tried to get them involved in the “lecture”(for lack of better word) part of the lesson. I had them tell me what they remembered from a previous lesson that was taught on letter writing. We brainstormed together who we could write a persuasive letter to and what we could persuade someone to do.  I also played a short youtube video to explain some of what we were doing. I introduced an organizer for their thoughts and they got to work. The lesson went really well I felt. But….

 

After thinking about the lesson, I discovered I like teaching the fun stuff, like outdoor math games and basketball skills in the gym much more than writing.  I was reflecting on that lesson it is something that has to be taught, and I tried to make it interesting by allowing the students to choose who they would write to and what they were going to try to persuade that person to do. However, I was left thinking if I wasn’t overly excited by teaching the whole lesson, what did the kids feel like.  I was also left wondering how do I make the “lecture” part of the lesson more interesting and engaging. I thought the activity was good. Students need explicit instruction, but does it have to be so dry? I would love some suggestions how to make the lecture part of teaching more interesting. Until next time.