Updated: Jul 20, 2021
My practicum visit was adventurous as always. The night before, I got a text message from my school advisor, Peter about the possibility of doing a 10 minute lesson or ice breaker for the class. I jumped at the opportunity because I wanted practical knowledge and feedback from him whenever I had the chance. I was feeling great and had decided that I wanted to do a spiral journal with the class. I went to bed early, planning for my two-year-old to wake up in the night, and miraculously, he didn’t! What did happen was I woke up thinking about the lesson and couldn’t fall back asleep.
In the morning, I got ready and ordered my Starbucks order for pick up and left the house early. I instantly panicked when I saw the tire pressure icon glowing on my dashboard. “Okay, so I’ll pick up the Starbucks and go to the Chevron near there. Yikes. My gas light just came on. I can fill up gas too.” I pick up my coffee, got to the gas station and realize I left my wallet at home! So now I am figuring out what steps are next. I didn’t have time to go back home, I’m at a quarter tank, I can still pump my tires and get to the school in time, meanwhile hoping I don’t get pulled over. It’s been a while since I put air in my tires (one of the benefits of having a husband who manages the car maintenance), so I take 10 minutes figuring out the first tire and fly through the remaining three with ease. I start driving and think that I still have a lot of time to get to the school. School doesn’t start until 9:00am, I’ll get there at 8:15, and my meeting time with Peter is at 8:20am. Still breathing. I get to the school, luckily seeing my two other classmates waiting for me, and then enter the school. We go through the COVID protocols and I get to the class by 8:25am. One of my classmates tells me that class actually starts at 8:35am… Now I am panicking. I have no time to prep for the lesson, and I am late. I decide to use the “fake it til you make it” strategy, and pretended to be as calm as possible. Peter tells me that we'll start our day off with my activity.
I walk my students through the spiral journal exercise. I noticed that the class was buzzing with energy. When I was introducing the exercise and getting them to prepare the piece of paper, the students were talking to each other and still very preoccupied with their socializing. I asked them to look ahead when they were done each step and when that didn’t work, I asked them to put their hands on their heads. During the exercise, they were focused and concentrating on the task, when I prompted them with the questions:
What have you learned up until now?
How are you feeling in this moment? What can you start letting go of?
What are your next steps and goals?
What are your hopes and dreams?
I told them that this was for their own reflection and that I will not be handing it in. When we finished the exercise, the students proceeded with their Math test.
The feedback that I got from Peter was that I seemed comfortable in front of the room and the exercise was very valuable. He even took part in the exercise and said that it was a great way to begin the day.
Some of the things I focused on during the rest of the day was how Peter organized his classroom for certain activities. Here are some of my notes.
A third of the class was writing the exam while the remaining students were working on a project with their groups. They were independently working and were great at keeping the volume level down.
I liked the atmosphere of the exam because there was “quiet talk”. This sets the students up for environmental factors and being able to concentrate with noise around.
They were in pods of 4. Given the COVID-19 situation, he asked the students to keep their masks on the entire day so that they can continue working in groups. They were very receptive to this.
The classroom was set up as a Science classroom, so there were three sinks. This was very helpful with the hand-washing task before and after breaks.
In the afternoon, the class went out to play frisbee golf in the course behind the school. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking through the course and then when we finished, the Grade 7 class proceeded to climb on a large tree at the “first hole”.
At one point, I thought they had stopped playing and were goofing around, climbing the tree. I used my “teacher voice” and said “you guys, what is going on here? Let’s come down and continue playing frisbee.” Little did I know, they had already finished and there were no more holes left. “Okay, then… carry on. Be careful.” I had a good laugh and even heard one of the students say “Best teacher award!”, not that that was what I was going for, but it felt nice.
Throughout the day, I was speaking to some of the students and am now reflecting on what was said. I want to capture what some of these stories are.
Dalia was talking to her friend about the Math test they just did and said she got 96%. When she showed it to her parents, they said “Where is the missing 4%?”
While we were choosing teams for frisbee golf, it turned out that Oscar was left out and nobody wanted him on their team. He walked off for a while and came back, saying he wanted to play on his own. I used the excuse that I had to be the last person, and joined his team. I used the opportunity to ask him questions about the game and how to play. I also told him how great he was playing compared to me.
Eva later told me that there are certain students that aren’t liked in the class and sometimes groups are hard to form.
Since my first day in this Grade 7 class, I have been thinking about what I was issues were going on from isolation to peer pressure to grades. I’m going to leave this reflection with some questions for myself.
How can I ensure that each student is heard?
How do I empower them to create a community and see the power of community?