Internship – Coming Back to Class After Being Away

This past week of internship was greatly influenced by the three school days I was away for the internship seminar. By Monday it had been five days since I had seen my students. I wasn’t sure what the substitute had been able to get through and I wasn’t sure how my class received the work I assigned over the period of time I was away. This resulted in me feeling a discomforting sense of uncertainty throughout the week.

On Monday, I felt the least prepared I have felt so far. My anxiety had spiked and my confidence was shaky. I began the lesson asking my students what they had done and what they were uncertain of. I went over the two readings they had done and gave them class time to work on the assignments after going over them as well.

In the following days, I introduced our final literary lens – the postcolonial lens. I gave students notes and had them read the poem “Sure You Can Ask Me A Personal Question” by Diane Burns. This process went alright, but I still wanted to introduce Treaty Education and I felt as if my class still wasn’t fully getting colonialism and the importance of postcolonialism/decolonization in our society. I had my students watch part of “We Were Children” to foster a human understanding of what colonialism meant to real people and feel the injustice in it, so that they could see how it shapes our current society. I was starting to feel better after these lessons, as I had gotten my students to make deep connections.

By the end of the week, I was in great need of a break. All of my uneasiness set of by the usual worries, but also the uncertainty of having been out of the classroom for three classes had worn me out. The weekend has been a necessary break to recuperate and time to plan (an activity that never ends). In the next week, I hope to feel more secure in my plans. As I wind my first unit down, I look forward to the opportunity to try to work in some of my reflections on what worked and what didn’t in my next unit.

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Lesson and Unit Planning as a Preservice Teacher

As a preservice teacher, one of the things I want feel more proficient at is lesson and unit planning. I can find my way around the Saskatchewan curriculum quite well. I have many activity ideas, especially when it comes to English Language Arts. However, I don’t yet have experience carrying out the unit plans I have constructed. I am not sure I have succeeded at creating the kind of continuity in concurrent lesson plans that I hope to. Likely, the only way to really know and learn how to improve is through doing. Luckily, I will have the opportunity to do so in my pre-internship and internship. In the meantime, I wish to learn as much theory and practice putting my ideas together.

In the blog post “Planning the Best Curriculum Unit Ever,” Todd Finley blogs about eight planning steps. In this order, he describes the steps as:

  1. Describe your vision, focus, objectives, and student needs.
  2. Identify resources.
  3. Develop experiences that meet your objectives.
  4. Collect and devise materials.
  5. Lock down the specifics of your task.
  6. Develop plans, methods, and processes.
  7. Create your students’ experience.
  8. Go!

He also notes that every lesson and unit has to be uniquely crafted to support the diversity of your students. Differentiation is important and it is important to make sure your lessons aren’t cookie cutter and adapted to suit student needs.

Ideas for unit planning and backwards design is well explained on Dr. Bilash’s website. Here there are different types of units described: “Theme based unit, Literature basedGames basedContent basedField trip basedWriting based, [and] Project based“.

Bilash also provides videos of the process of backward planning from the perspective of a preservice teacher:

Finally, “Strategies for Effective Lesson Planning” can be found on the website for Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. The site gives six steps for lesson planning: “Outline learning objectives,” “Develop the introduction,” “Plan the specific learning activities,” “Plan to check for understanding,” “Develop a conclusion and a preview,” and “Create a realistic timeline”. Breaking the planning process into clear sections can make the task manageable. Planning becomes really fun when all of your ideas can be put into a cohesive learning plan.

While these ideas are helpful, practice and classroom experience is the greatest opportunity for learning what is going well and what needs improvement. I am excited to be able to put all of my ideas together and teach a full unit of study. My goal until then is to consider the process of planning and work my ideas into clear plans.

I would like to receive any additional advice that can help me in my own learning process. What tips do you have? What resources helped you? What else can I do to be prepared to teach?