Week 1-Student Teaching Reflection 2/27-3/2
This week was exciting, overwhelming, tiring, challenging, and fun. Mostly, I found myself thrilled just being in the classroom; as I have been anticipating this start for years. As I watched and increasingly participated throughout the week I found an extreme need for flexibility. By this I mean, although my mentor teacher is very well-planned, each day seemed to unfold differently than the last. The routine is set and the students are knowledgeable about their tasks however it is the unplanned, unexpected occurrences that call for the need for flexibility. The ability to lead the class with student interests in mind, meet the learning targets for each lesson and pace the lesson according to student schema and knowledge acquisition…structuring a lesson and understanding personal ability to adapt is vital. This is also no easy task and I realize that as I become a better teacher that some days are going to be better than others.
I started this first week by taking over the third-grade math curriculum. I set out over the weekend to plan and understand what it is I needed to teach the students. Each day I set up the lesson with a learning target on the board and proceeded to teach the lesson. On day one we needed to find space to work and the only location available was the hallway. For a lesson that lasts a full hour this space was not ideal. I realized, as the students became restless and tired of sitting, that they had tuned out. I needed to add more action, movement into the lesson for better retention and kinesthetic learning. On day two I had the students move to a bigger space (luckily there is an open classroom for us to use at this time) and I added movement and action in the lesson; the students seemed to respond better. I was able to move about the class and they responded with more enthusiasm and interest. It was easier to see where differentiation was needed in this setting as opposed to sitting in a hallway trying to balance a book on my lap.
We had an all day science lesson that was very intense, involved, and interesting. I began to understand how precious time becomes as the curriculum is deep and time is limited. This all day focus might not be ideal every day, however, it was important for the students to move through this deep curriculum and complete the science kit. I witnessed the value in pursuing the depth of the curriculum for the benefit of student understanding of the lesson developed.
Throughout the rest of the week I participated in small group lessons and had a chance to be involved in correcting, entering grades, planning, copying and gathering , disciplining and various other responsibilities as a partner and also and observer; each tasks supporting the other so as to provide students a smooth, academically rich and full day. There is so much that happens before school starts, during the planning periods, on lunch break, after school day ends, and even over the weekends that is not observed by the public. These times are the “behind the scenes” opportunities that teachers use for productive planning. The key is to find balance and to work effectively with the time available.
On Friday I led my first whole class instruction. This was great. My mentor was close by to help but I was in charge of developing the word “aerodynamic” in the student’s cognitive content dictionary. Although, it was a bit bumpy at times, I felt that I had the class’s attention and they eagerly participated. I know that my transitions and teaching techniques will improve and develop as I develop. I hope to improve and gain the finessed set of skills that I have observed in my mentor teacher. I realize that I need practice to develop skills. I look forward to the opportunities before me to hone these skills under the guidance of my well-seasoned and extremely dynamic mentor.