Reflections

B10 Reflections

Day 1: My very first day of teaching was full of nerves and just not feeling overly-confident. I started off by introducing myself, but I wish I could have done an activity to get to know my students. I was able to get the students to fill out an exit slip asking them to tell me something about them as learners, something related to the topic they are interested in, and a question they might have. We read two poems and discussed them, which went pretty well in all.

When my observers said they thought it went well, I was surprised. I didn’t feel like I had done anything impactful, but I learned, that as a start, we have to walk before we run and I proved I could stand on my own two legs. Looking back I realized that I had maintained control of the classroom and was able to engage the students in some discussion. While my plan ran short, I seamlessly had them do some silent reading.

I think the reason I didn’t feel I had done as well as I hoped, is because I have really high expectations for myself. I also have a lot of goals as an educator. I want to get students to direct their learning, empower themselves, and think critically. But, I know that I am still learning and I will get there as soon as I can.

Day 2: Following a good first day, I had a bad day. However I learned more from this experience than from the day before. As scary as it can be, we learn from failure. While I was deeply upset and ready to beat myself up over it, I had to take a step back, calm down, and see it for the learning experience it was.

What went well? I gave students the opportunity to collaborate. I got to hear students complaints: “it’s a romance” and think maybe I should have introduced the idea of nuclear winter before I had them read. I made a good organizational chart to assist with their reading.

What didn’t work well? I needed to give students clearer instructions and write them out for students. I needed to give a time limit and stop things before they go too far. I didn’t intrigue students enough by the prediction questions, I should have spoken on the topic of what a nuclear winter meant. Group work needed way more structure. I learned that collaborative work is great, but we both needed to be better prepared to make it work. I should have started with a smaller group piece and then added more. I learn more every time I think about what I would need to change next time to make things work.

Day 3: I was back to being nervous, but I had a sense of determination too. I knew I could get back to where I needed to be and I wouldn’t let one bad day throw me out of the game. I was recovering from my first let down. In order to do so, I took a step back. I structured the class to re-establish my presence and check for my students understanding. I went over the previous two days and worked on making strong connections. While, I am not overly fond of the method, I took up assigned questions in a more rigid and teacher directed discussion format. It got the job done and was maybe a stepping stone for me and my students as it was what they were used to.

I got students to complete a related assignment for marks. This was then the day that I got to get my first taste of assessment. I went easy on the students and am still working on this, but rubrics help. Overall, it went well and I was ready to move forward.

Day 4: This was a wrap up day for the week and it was effective. I was able to get the class to a place where they were ready to move on to the next text and activity.

I went over the work that they had been assigned the day before. I practiced a bit of probing as well. Even more exciting for me, I was able to model writing a journal entry for my students. I projected and read my journal entry to my students and had them identify the different parts and what was good and bad about the piece. The only things I could have done better, would be to write a little bit worse (I was writing a bit to university level, despite feeling I hadn’t) and to have pre-chosen parts that needed improvement and what-not. However, I think the journals went well in the end. My cooperating teacher was worried that, because I said they shouldn’t get caught up worrying about their grammar and just write, they would write poorly. I did not find that to be the case, and was pleasantly surprised to hear each of their voices already coming out.

Writing is something I am passionate about and I believe every students individual voice is valuable. I really enjoyed this first experience in journal writing. I felt like I was connecting with my students and that I was giving them an opportunity to put themselves into their learning. I learned that, although there were some students who seemed like they were over the class or goofing off, they had something to say and often wrote very insightful reflections.

Day 5: I took another attempt at making group work productive. I made sure to give explicit instructions, I write them on the board, asked students to work only in groups once their individual tasks were completed. The students did a jigsaw activity that required them to teach their peer groups the information on First Nations world views from the Treaty Ed. booklet. I was really happy I was able to incorporate First Nations perspectives and Treaty Education in my unit. I was nervous, because my knowledge is limited, but the booklet gave me the resources I needed to teach my students.

I think that students were still quick to chat with their peers, but that is to be expected. I also felt that some of the knowledge was being treated as unimportant or silly. I heard some students speaking in stereotypical voices while reading some of the material. This made our discussion even more important. I learned that I also had to start constructing ideas related to social justice and think about what voices we hear and which we silence. The next text was the tool I needed to get the conversation going after going over facts.

I was happy that we were able to get through the material, although I was not able to fit in time for my students to write in their journals. I was still proud of the step I had taken forward in relation to group work. I know I will continue to make collaboration effective and satisfying for me and my students.

Day 6: I felt like I had learned by this point how to make my lessons flow from day to day. At first I struggled with trying to get everything done and complete my lessons as separate units. In this class we discussed First Nations world views and beliefs related to the land and nature and started to read “Harvesting Traditional Knowledge.” It felt like a perfect set up to me. I had given the students some factual background tied to treaty education. I asked what students knew.

I also tried a different technique, which was to get my students reading aloud.  I liked doing this because students could pass, but I knew everyone was on the same page and all were getting the material. To focus reading, I read students the questions they would be answering.

I did however, make the mistake of not pre-teaching some of the more challenging concepts. There were specific government projects mentioned, but many students didn’t know what they were. I thought the main points stood on their own, but looking back I should have given them insight and broken down more difficult aspects of the text. I believe they would have connected better if I had done so.

Day 7: We finished reading “Harvesting Traditional Knowledge” and worked on questions. It was a simple class, but I think it helped me check for understanding and set up a side discussion related to social justice. I felt really excited to get to speak on some of these issues and get my students thinking about the real life relevance. I also wanted to point out their voices and their world views. I think I was able to make their views visible as I tried to question “normal” with the discussion and journal prompt.

Day 8: This lesson was one where I really shone. I concluded “Harvesting Traditional Knowledge” and read “What a Waste.” I was feeling more comfortable and I had really been looking forward to both of the subject that I got to delve into. Social justice is something I am passionate about, so I sprinkled it in. I didn’t want to push it too much, but I think it was a good step. I was able to see how I could weave it into my future classes.

I also worked on connecting environmental issues to student knowledge. Additionally, the medium was a good practice and modeling for their upcoming project. I was really happy with all of the connections being made. I felt like my students were understanding me and I was understanding them.

Day 9: I had a pretty simple lesson, as my cooperating teacher needed about half the class to take up questions for a novel study they are working on. So I used the class to concluded the discussion and brainstorming session of “What a Waste.” My students were a bit distracted, but we were able to come up with some criteria of a good poster/ad. I hoped it would help them and later some students asked to see the article again to help them with their project. I also had my students read a photo-essay, “Food Crisis,” aloud. To conclude my students wrote their final journal entry. I tried to keep the journal a bit more open, as some students seemed to be getting tired of writing on environmentalism. I broadened the prompt so that it still related related to environmental issues, but it gave students room to consider many world issues and their role in improving conditions. I asked: Can individuals make change? When you see something wrong how do you make your voice heard? This again was a moment for possible forays into social justice.

The class went well. I would maybe try to make the link to their poster project even stronger by having them think-pair-share about the article and images, so that they could use those ideas to brainstorm for their work.

Day 10: I gave the students one work day to complete their journal project. They had a total of four journals and from the beginning I told them that they would choose one to edit and write up a final draft for. I focused on verbalizing and writing detailed instructions. I told them what the process would be and what they should hand in. I also went over a sample journal entry with mistakes planted in it. As technology failed to project the example, I read it aloud. I learned to make sure I have an overhead back up or possibly a hand out. Just hearing the sample wasn’t as effective, but it was better than nothing.

I do think some students could have used a visual example, as some were confused about how to show their revising and editing. I tackled these issues with individual students and clarified for the class as well.

Another mistake I made was the due date. While I asked students to hand it in March 31 and wrote it one the board that way. Their assignment sheet said “no later than April 1.” This was my mistake, as I had written it before I knew what my solid plan was. I wish I could have given them lab time, but it just wasn’t possible.

Day 11: I gave the students another work day for their other big project. I allowed students to work individually or in groups of up to three. Unfortunately, this work day was a shortened class so there wasn’t as much time as I would have liked. My focus was on classroom management. It is something I struggle with as a person who has a tendency to be quiet and passive.

I made instructions clear, written and spoken, and I set a volume for the class along with reasons why it couldn’t get to loud (we have to hear if they call us down for the assembly). Moreover, as it was their only work day (which I reminded them) their work time was quite focused and productive. The volume was always controlled and I never had to remind them.

Another great experience was my engagement with my students. I walked around and sat with groups to check for understanding, make sure they were on task, and help with any issues. I think this helped with the classroom management as well as the classroom community.

Lastly, the visual project was a wonderful thing to see. I felt so wonderful when one of my struggling EAL students was making his poster. I learned that he had extraordinary drawing talents. What’s even better was I saw him smiling. I thought of how all of the writing projects might make him feel and how finally having a project where he could shine must have been a good feeling. I look forward to considering multiple ways of showing knowledge and understanding in the future.

Day 12: This day got a bit crazy. My classroom management was being tested and I think I handled it adequately, but I could definitely improve. I had my students work on a creative writing piece that explored anthropomorphic speakers and environmentalism. I think I gave a good layout and supplied a helpful checklist, but I needed to have a sample prepared to share with the class.

Additionally, I should have sent students who moved back to their seating plan, but I was feeling a bit passive. I also hate to squash collaboration, but it at times turned to goofing around. I also think I should have set up better activity guidelines as to what students should do when they have completed their writing. I meant to have them share and identify the parts that made their writing strong, but I was unsure of whether or not that would be appropriate as my cooperating teacher had mentioned that they should just edit themselves. So, I ended up not giving either idea justice.

Lastly, my end of class discussion could have been stronger. I needed to have more specific questions and maybe better connections to the bigger ideas, so that it would be more fluid and generate more responses.

Day 13: This was a shortened day, because of an assembly. I handed back students poster rubrics, so that groups could distribute marks if they believed group members deserved different marks. This process took more time than I would have liked and some students argued the marks, despite the marks being relatively high. I found this tough because the rubric was very simple and everyone did well. I think my passivity and grading made them think that I could be pushed around.

I concluded the unit with a discussion of the “big ideas” of the unit. The students weren’t willing to give much, but we did cover everything I wanted to and there were some ideas thrown out. I had them write an exit slip for me. They told me what they learned and what they would consider inquiring about in the future.

I think students were a bit energetic and distracted by the fact that today is the last day before the long weekend. In the end, I would have liked deeper conversation. Maybe, I could have asked them to write their ideas first and then discussed or just had more intriguing and specific questions.

A3o Reflections

Day 1: My first day with the grade twelve students wasn’t as nerve-wracking as my first day of pre-internship. I had already been teaching the grade nines for a week. Additionally, I was collaborating with my partner on the unit. I struggled at first to feel like my voice was heard, but quickly I put myself into the unit. The first lesson went well. I got to watch my partner teach and then it was my turn, so I noticed things I liked and things I would do differently. In the end we are different people, so we teach differently naturally.

I think the use of technology went well. All students had a device they could use and as far as I could tell it was not being used inappropriately. The chart that went with the assignment directed their searches and allowed the class to collaborate on their findings. It was a good set up to the basis of our unit on human connections to the land.

The thing that I could have done better was going over the poem. Sometimes I forget to dismantle it with the students and to point specific things out. I did not dig into the poem enough in the first lesson and so I would have to backtrack a little the next day.

Day 2: I used a guide my cooperating teacher gave me to go through the poem. I asked the students about title, I asked them about the tone and had them circle descriptive words so that I could point out how they change in tone (from weak to powerful). My students made some great connections and observations and I could tell that they had gotten everything they could out of them poem, so I moved on to the story “Lamp at Noon.”

I meant to show images to get their ideas going, but I felt self-conscious about asking my cooperating teacher to set up the projector yet again. This is something I will have to work on. I can’t leave stuff out because I am too passive to ask for things.

However, I was able to get a good discussion going by asking about the title and students were able to identify, with some prompting, the connection between lamps at noon and dust storms (as we were talking about the prairies). This was the best moment I had had with this class. I had a lot of students that were willing to talk and share ideas, so it was a great experience.

Day 3: I had my class finish up reading “The Lamp at Noon” aloud. I paused at several points in the story to check for understanding and draw their attention to specific parts. When we finished up there wasn’t a lot of time left over, so I did a little bit of a discussion and had them write an exit slip related to the unit’s big idea.

I thought this class went well, but I could have generated more interest if I had shown images of the “dust bowl.” I think a lot of students missed the end event where the baby in the story dies, but I tried to question them as to what happened without making it too depressing or morbid.

I asked them to complete a double entry journal with three quotes of their chose. I asked them to explain it’s significance, connect it to themselves and another text or the world. I think this was a good activity to get them drawing from the text and thinking critically.

Day 4: I finished up a discussion of “The Lamp at Noon” which could have been more specific or involved student actions more. I felt that my students were getting a bit bored. I asked specific questions and pulled specific lines from the text. I tried to start by going over plot and showing them the three different stories that are being told (Ellen’s story, Paul’s story, and the story of the storm). From there I tried to make connections between the land and the characters. It seemed like some students had a very solid grasp on the concepts. Others may only have gotten a surface reading of the text.

I asked about the quotes they chose, but no one wanted to share. I think in the future, I might ask them to think about sharing ahead of time. If they wrote something too personal, they might not want to share it. Or I could ask them just about the quote they chose as being significant and allow them to keep their personal responses private.

Day 5: This was a quiet and simple day. I discussed their upcoming panel presentations and had them silently read the next text, “Borders.”

In the future I would try to make the assignment and rubric clearer. I would rework the project, so that they didn’t get confused. Or, go through the final assignment at the very beginning, so that as they read they were thinking about what they could say about the text.

I think the silent reading was mostly effective, but I am still not a huge fan of question sheets. I guess I just have to figure out how to write questions that target deeper thinking. I feel a bit like the purpose of questions is to make sure students did the reading. I want students to know that there is not one reading of anything. So, I like personal responses better.

Day 6: I took up the questions and gave some time to consider the panel presentations. While the questions made up most of the discussion, I tried to strengthen the idea of human connections to natural and constructed lands/worlds.

I think I would have a better system for taking up the questions or assign a secondary component where students come up with questions to ask me. I think that in this type of teacher-directed discussion, students aren’t as engaged. My point it to make connections that are relevant not only to one text, but to life and reading the world. I am still trying to figure out strategies to achieve this.

Day 7: I went over the expectations for the project and asked students if they had any questions. I made a visual explanation on the board to help clarify the structure of the assignment.

My students worked well and got a lot done. I walked around and talked with each of the groups to see if they were doing alright. I also fielded questions when they came up and I think it worked out. I also wanted to reduce any stress. Too often students worry about what they think I want them to say, so I tried to minimize that and explain that they can make many connections and they are valuable as long as there is support for them.

I wish I could have given more time or more examples/models for the assignment, but my pre-internship is almost over and I just am not able to give extensions the way I might in my own classroom in the future.

Day 8: I had my students prepare for presentations in their groups and then we got the presentations rolling. Overall, it went well. I could have had more groups go, but because of some absences and general unpreparedness they were not able to. I also feel like I am getting the hang of assessing students, although quick snap decisions are still difficult for something like in class presentations.

In the future, I wish I would’ve felt more organized. I was feeling a bit nervous about assessing in the moment, so I didn’t get to do some extra in class discussions. I would have liked to get students to give their peers feedback, but I just didn’t set it up. This is because of my own personal uneasiness, so in the future I will go through with it regardless.

Day 9:

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