Week 4 Reflections March 3/18-23
This fourth week of student teaching was a lesson in experiencing many firsts: my first supervisor observation, my first attempts videotaping for the TPA (Teacher Pedagogical Assessment), my first educator’s job fair, and my first time experiencing the work-load after a day away from school. This week also afforded me the opportunity to feel a sense of comfort amongst the chaos as I spend more time in front of and next to the students and less time on the sidelines.
My first “set of firsts”, focused in the beginning of the week with preparing, organizing, and developing a unit for fractions and lessons that would be appropriate for the students’ mathematical development of fractions. The unit needed to meet the requirements for not only student performance expectations and state standards but also be appropriate for my supervisory observation and videotaping for the TPA. I started the unit by exploring fractions and creating fraction kits with the students. Then we continued throughout the week to use these kits during lessons to help the students with classwork/homework and to improve their understanding, by using them to play many games, and to support the relationships between fractions and a whole. Along with the students, I developed a cognitive content dictionary that supports multiple learning styles and defines vocabulary that is specific to mathematics. I completed two-hours of videotaping and will focus on finding the right ten minute segments for the TPA reflection and submission. The observation by my supervisor was helpful in providing me with concrete feedback about instructional tools and opportunities for me to refine my teaching style. I look forward to more observations as it is always nice to have feedback to better craft your personal teaching techniques.
The job fair for educators, held in Tacoma at the Tacoma Dome, proved to be overwhelming and exciting all at the same time. Although, I understand the national crisis that education is facing, it was promising to see so many people still seeking employment as a teacher. On the other hand the vast amount of people (probably somewhere in the ballpark of 1200 candidates) looking for jobs and the actual jobs available was somewhat disconcerting. I have faith that I will find full time employment as a teacher… it just may take some time. The beauty of this experience was that I was forced to revisit my resume and add my new experience to my past experience. This afforded me the opportunity to see my accomplishments of the past two years and realize the potential opportunities for this new career. I was encouraged when talking to potential employers in various districts about the turnover they imagine happening in the near future, 2-5 years. Although, the ability for relocating to another part of the state or country is not a reality for me, there are still prospects available for educators to get a foot in the door and begin a career in teaching.
The work load, after a day away from school, is another “first” I was able to experience this week. I missed a day for the job fair where the students completed assessments. While this is a good day to miss as the students are focused on their tests, assessments involve time for grading and evaluating which I had to make up for upon my return. It is easy to see why teachers are rarely eager to take time away from their classrooms when it means that the catch-up work grows exponentially in size. Even the e-mail load upon my return was tripled in size. The small actions and interactions that seem to go unnoticed throughout a normal school day become substantial upon your return. Simply being in the classroom to answer questions as they arise, being available to students, parents, or principal, or even to run ideas/thoughts/plans by colleagues, helps make the daily workload manageable. While there are and will be times when it is necessary to be away from the classroom I see the great importance of everyday consistency for a teacher’s presence and availability.
Lastly, this week I began to feel like a real part of the class. I seemed to start to assume more often the role of teacher and with that began to feel a sense of place. This sense of place directly relates to a sense of purpose for me. I know I am doing the right thing even though I may feel at times uncomfortable in the uncertainty of my future. Even in the classroom, filled with routine, a sense of controlled chaos that seems to afford me comfort. Comfort in the knowledge that I am doing what I should be, comfort in the idea that I will always be learning, and comfort in the fact that I can make a difference. My sense of ease grows each day along with my abilities and strengths as a teaching professional.