Updated: Jul 20, 2021
In week two of my short practicum, we worked on creating a class "Value Tree". I enjoyed this exercise and was thrilled with how the product turned out. What I noticed about the lesson was how the students took their time to create their work, a few even taking the leaf home for extra time. They put so much thought and care into the designs and patterns they used, in order to symbolize who they are as individuals. They seemed to enjoy the non-academic side of the exercise, and focus on Social Emotional Learning. Some of the reflection thoughts from the students included:
"The tree is very colourful."
"Most of the students chose to put their leaves at the top of the tree first."
"I am represented on the tree because it shows my personal values."
In managing the lesson, I learned that it took a little bit of preparation in order to accomplish what I intended. Prior to this lesson, we created a class charter and the goals came in handy during this exercise. I prepared the students over the last several weeks and practiced what "active listening" and "participation" looked like and I am proud that my students did this so wonderfully.
The debrief with Jerry really solidified my feelings about the lesson. He gave me great feedback in terms of my classroom management. I was circling the class and offering feedback (the pacing could possibly be my method of calming my nerves), I paused and allowed the students to think about their reflection pieces instead of expecting an answer right away, and I used my cues to grab their attention when I needed to. Something that surprised me about the feedback was that I had a calm vibe about teaching, which I didn't notice at the time. Public speaking is not one of my strengths, but I'm happy to hear that I did well.
Some things that I would do in the future are:
· I would have the students involved in the building part of the tree.
· I would give them a little more time (I noticed that only half of the class finished in the allotted time), which worked out because the process of “filling up the tree” was fun to watch.
· In the reflection exercise, I forgot that a student was missing so Josh didn't have a partner. Mr. Ingelman reminded me of this.
· I find that I can't see the "big picture" or connecting pieces sometimes, so that's an area for growth for me.
In terms of resources, I'm already noticing the vast amount of resources at the school, including weekly emails with lesson plans attached, training textbooks provided by the school, and most importantly, resources from other teachers. Even though we are unable to collaborate as much as during pre-COVID times, I see the importance of collaboration and working with colleagues.
On Friday, I had an observation from Peter on an "Artifacts" presentation. I found a simple rubric that I used to assess the students and what I noticed was that I've never graded students before, other than in Math, which is pretty straight forward. What I appreciate about working with Peter is the timely and constructive feedback that I get right away. He asks me questions to allow me to think about my practice, as opposed to telling me what he would do. Both observations went well and demonstrates the support I am getting from my mentors. The people around me want me to succeed and I am appreciative for this.
To end my short-practicum, I have many questions that will hopefully further my teaching practice. I wonder how I will do teaching subjects that I'm not quite comfortable with. Given the vast amount of resources, how do I choose the most effective ones that'll make a difference for the diverse group of students? I'm also starting to notice that there are different types of lessons that require different amounts of planning. How do I make use of my time so that I can still have a life outside of work?
From speaking to different teachers, I'm starting to get an idea of how I can manage my workload while balancing other aspects of life. I'm learning different teaching styles and I'm starting to select the strategies that'll work for the needs of each class. I hope to continue this meaningful journey, making a difference not only for my students, but for my community.
I’ve had so many AH HA moments this week! The one that stood out for me was when I presented my PowerPoint with copious amounts of grammatical errors. My gifted students had a hay-day with this, correcting my slides and giving me a good laugh. This moment taught me to always proofread my PowerPoint slides and to learn to laugh at myself. Another important AH HA moment was on Friday when Peter asked me to grade my performance, and I gave myself a 7/10. This demonstrates how critical and unforgiving to myself. As a cohort, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I can start to notice this and start to practice self-compassion.