I had my first field experience this morning and the time was spent getting to know my co-op teacher and the class. I am at Arcola Community School, which is a fairly new school. We got a quick tour of it before the day started so we could see the resources the school had. As class began we were introduced to our grade 7/8 class and we were also told certain things about some of the students. This aspect I feel will be challenging because there is so much diversity in the classroom. 3 students are visually impaired; there are also a few EAL students who knew very little English. As a whole the class is at a pretty low literacy level for their grade which will make lesson planning a little more difficult.
The day began and there wasn’t actually any formal teaching in the morning. We started with the Daily 5, which I had seen in other schools. Students got to choose which activity they would work on, most of them choice to do silent reading or writing. Then they had Genius Hour, which I hadn’t seen before. The students got to pick a topic and then create a project/presentation about it. During this time We walked around and spoke to the students about what they were working on. I wanted to use this week to try and get to know the students and how they liked to learn before next week when I will start teaching. Some of the students responded well when I tried to talk to them, others weren’t so interested but I did expect some of that. I also watched the teacher during this time to see what she did with the students when there was no formal teaching going on. She did a similar thing, going around to the students and checking up with them and seeing how their work was going.
Next it was recess and we got to sit in on some interviews for their schools leadership team which was interesting to see. Right after the bell rang to end recess, the fire alarm went off, so we had to all go outside. In a totally unstructured situation, it is interesting to see how the students behave differently. Our co-op told us after that her students especially, rely on structure, and anything to mess that up cause’s chaos. After this, they had art until lunch. I did a similar thing to before where I just observed. But we also used this opportunity to talk with our co-op about the level the kids were at and what we should start teaching. I know we weren’t supposed to teach in our field, but our co-op suggested we start with something we were comfortable with. I decided to do a lesson on self –esteem because it ties in with what they are doing currently. We were told that a simpler lesson is better for these students because their literacy levels were so low. She gave us some ideas for the lessons and resources but otherwise said we could do whatever we wanted.
Overall I really enjoyed my first week. Our Co-op seems very interested and excited that we are here with her class, and also seems eager to help. The students are also great and it will be good to get to know them more. Some challenges at I foresee will be creating something that will enhance their learning, instead of going over their heads and also working with the visually impaired students. I would like to see some formal teaching too in the future so I can have a clear understanding how their class works with that and also how the classroom management is. I am eager to begin the lesson planning process but also nervous for it. I hope I can create a good lesson but also learn a lot from the experience.
Last week I had determined that I would be teaching a health lesson to get myself comfortable. Leading up to the lesson I was a little nervous, but excited too. I had decided to teach about self-esteem, since it fit pretty well into what they were learning in health already. I sent my lesson plan to my co-op a couple days early so I could get some feedback on it. She replied with a few suggestions, but overall thought that the kids would respond well to it.
I got to the school and the kids did their daily 5 activities and then my partner, Mitch taught his lesson. Since we had determined that the literacy levels of our class were pretty low, he did his lesson in run on sentences. Some of the kids understood right away, others did not seem to get it. I went around the room, helping out the kids as much as I can. I have learned that it’s actually pretty hard to explain something to a child that really has no prior knowledge about the topic. I have learned some ways to help explain but sometimes they don’t work so I also have to learn how to adjust my explanations. I find that using diagrams works the best for most students whose language is not English.
After recess they went to the library and I started to prepare for my lesson. First we had the pre-conference and I wanted my target to be my talking speed. I have a habit of talking very quickly so I wanted to make sure that I was talking in a way that I could actually be understood. I was hoping this lesson would be somewhat of a review for them but I was going to be relying on a lot of class discussion and brainstorming so I also hoped that they were going to respond well to me and participate in the discussion lots. Fortunately the kids were pretty involved in the discussion and were pretty good at the brainstorming part. They next part of my lesson was a short creative writing assignment and my next challenge was keeping them on task. Thankfully because it was supposed to be short I didn’t give them a lot of time to do it so for the most part they did what they were supposed to. They were some trouble makers who go off task but they all handed in their assignments at the end of the lesson.
Once the kids went for lunch we had our post conference. I was told that my talking was at a good speed most of the time, but I always caught myself if I thought I was going too fast. My co-op gave me a list of comments, some things that I did well, and other suggestions that she thought I could try out for next time. Most of those comments had to do with transitioning from one thing to the next.
For this lesson to be my very first lesson that I’ve taught, I thought it went pretty well. Of course I will be improving on things and changing how I do things along the way. I can’t wait to see where I’m at when the semester ends.
This week I was quite nervous for my lesson. I had decided that I was going to be teaching them an art lesson and I have very little experience with art so I didn’t really know how it was going to go. I was most worried that I wouldn’t explain the technique well enough, but I purposely chose and outcome/indicator from grade 7 so that the grade 8’s in the class had done it before. Clearly explaining my technique was what I wanted my target to be this week. I was right about some of the students doing it before so it made me feel a little better that they already had some background knowledge. I delivered my lesson after recess like last week.
First I showed some examples of what we were doing on the board. It was a perspective drawing with 1 point. I got them to point out what were features of the pictures I was showing them. Thankfully they all pointed out what I wanted them to see. That the road starts out big and then gets smaller until you can’t see it anymore and that the trees along the side also start out big and get smaller. Then I gave them a list of instructions on how to do it. Some of the kids remembered from before and a lot of the kids are really artistic so I knew they wouldn’t really need the instructions, but I went over them so there was no confusion. While I was giving them the instructions I did it on the board to show them which I think was good for them to visualize my instructions. I gave them some alternative ways of doing it too if they wanted to be a little more detailed. After that I let the students get to work. The rest of the time was spent me going around to each student and seeing how they were doing on it. We went until lunch so in total we had an hour. None of the students finished, which I didn’t expect, but I didn’t really know how much time they would need so this gave me a better understanding of how the students work when given a large amount of time to do something.
There were a couple of things that surprised me about their work time. One was that I did not expect certain students to be as engaged as they were. One student in particular doesn’t often do a lot of work and is often disinterested in class, however this week he was actually on task the whole time which was really nice to see. Some other students weren’t very interested and one girl in particular didn’t do anything in class. When I questioned about some of the students behaviours to the co-op, she said that most of the time they were good, but with certain kids you had to pick your battles. This girl was one of those kids.
Overall I was pretty pleased with the way this lesson went even though I thought it wouldn’t go that well and as I’ve said before, I am excited to spend more time in this class.
So this week I was a little stressed out about my lesson because I had a crazy week and I didn’t think I was very prepared. I made it easier on myself by doing a continuation on last week’s art lesson, by teaching some additional skills to add on to it. I feel like I don’t have a lot to say this week because it went pretty similarly to last week. Once I explained the strategies of what we would be doing and showing some examples they got to work and continued on their art pieces. Most of the students worked well which I was glad about, especially because this was the day after Halloween. I think they really enjoyed what we were doing and this is really important to me. I understand that teachers have to teach the curriculum and not everything in it is the most exciting, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be creative to teach it in a way that the students enjoy. I don’t want to be the kind of teacher that is just strict and doesn’t try to make learning fun. That’s actually one of my main goals for being a teacher. I want my students to be passionate about what they are learning about. I want them to be excited and curious. Sure they don’t have to feel that way about every subject but if there’s a way that I can make something more enjoyable for my students, I will try to find it.
As I said most of the students were working, except for this one girl. I have had trouble with her before, last week she didn’t do anything she was supposed to. I was getting frustrated because every time I would go over to her she was doing something other than her art project. I asked her if she didn’t want to do the assignment or if she just didn’t know what to draw. She said she didn’t know what to draw so I found a picture book and found an example in it and told her that she can draw something like what was in the book. I don’t know if basically giving her the answer was the right thing to do but I just didn’t understand why she wouldn’t even get started when some of the mot rambunctious kids in the class were working. Eventually she did start something after our co-op spoke to her a bit.
Overall I think this class went pretty well. They were well behaved and on task (most of them) and seemed to really enjoy the activity. Like I said before I want my students to enjoy what they’re learning and I think that has to start with us. If the teacher is excited, it should translate to the students, which is why I am excited for next week because I am doing a lesson on Canada’s involvement in the world wars because they have a remembrance ceremony next week when we are there. I am very passionate about this subject and I really hope my students are as invested in it as I am, or hopefully they can learn something that really peaks their interest, but that’s for next week!