ST Blog – SOLO TEACHING – Weeks 10&11

I did it… I made it through my two week solo teaching period!!!!! WOW ūüėÄ

What can I say – solo teaching is hard. I have been exhausted for the last two weeks. When I came home from my last day of the solo, I took a six hour nap… you could say I was tired.

Although I was only required to independently construct one unit, I took on the challenge of doing two, as the seventh and eighth grade curriculum differ.  For the seventh grade, we looked at economics, including economic basics (such as wants, needs, choices, consumers, and barter), economic systems, supply and demand,  entrepreneurship, and trade.  For the eighth grade, we looked at the origins and history of the Industrial Revolution (IR), IR technology, culture of the Gilded Age, and labor unions.

One of my biggest take-aways from my solo was the fact that I made countless changes to both of my units Рultimately I ended on completely different notes than I had originally planned.  This was a great experience, and totally realistic of what a teacher goes through.  It was cool to be able to make adjustments as I saw fit, according to how the students were receiving and reacting to the material.

I think that I was successful in creating engaging learning opportunities for students.  I diversified my instructional and assessment methods in order to attempt to meet the unique needs of individual learners, and of the needs of the different groups as a whole. I believe that I made the expectations clear and made myself and the material accessible for all students.

One area for growth is my classroom management strategies. ¬†My first week, I did not have to use much strict classroom management because the students were still getting used to me being the authority figure. ¬†However, the second week proved a bit more difficult as students grew more comfortable – they were trying to see how far they could push it with me. I admit that there were situations in which I could have been more firm, but often in those moments I found myself trying to concentrate on the rest of the class and not on the individual student causing the problem. ¬†Also, I had never seen my cooperating teacher send students to the office before, so although I knew that was an option I had, I didn’t feel comfortable doing it myself.

Another area for improvement would be my timeliness in giving feedback to students.  I tried to keep up with grading assessments, but I found myself short of time everyday as I planned for the next. Although I reminded students multiple times of their assignments (and also had the responsibilities posted digitally and physically on the board), by the end of my solo there were a handful of students missing a lot of work.  If I had been more proactive after the first week to give that feedback, it likely would have been easier now for students to finish up the remaining work, with a lighter load.

I really enjoyed creating the assignments for students to complete. In almost all of my assignments for both grades, I created original assignments Рonly a couple times did I borrow lesson materials from online sources.  Although it made it a lot more work, it was a great way for me to not only engage in the content material, but also to make the learning personalized to the group of students who would be working on it.

It was an interesting experience to be the authority figure of the classroom.  For the first time, other faculty members had to speak with me, directly, instead of going to my cooperating teacher (who was hanging out in the library most of the time).  This gave me a more authentic glimpse into the field of colleagueship so critical to teaching.  I got to know some of my team teachers more personally, and supporting educators in my classroom (paras) worked with me to figure out what students needed.

A tough lesson that I learned, that I already knew but never had experienced, is that teaching is hard – there is nothing easy about it. ¬†It’s definitely a profession that requires passion, tough skin, flexibility, and the ability to keep your cool in unpredictable situations. ¬†It’s a job that keeps you up at night thinking about how you could improve, or how your student is doing, or what you’re going to plan for the next week. ¬†It’s a job that you need to love – if you don’t, you probably won’t think it’s worth it. But for those of us who do love it, we will treasure the moment when a student has a break through, the time a shy kid speaks up in class, and the moment when you learn from a student when they are “supposed” to be learning from you. ¬†Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher, and not everyone can just naturally be a great teacher – it takes a lot of work to perfect your craft. ¬†Years of experience, lots of self-reflection, collaborating with other educators, attending professional development sessions, and having the mindset that you can always improve – a lot goes into the profession. ¬†I’m thankful to have had this opportunity in the school that I’m at, and I can’t wait to have my own classroom someday.

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ST Blog – SOLO TEACHING – Weeks 10&11

Day 1 – Names, Names.. and more Names

Today marked the beginning of my Practicum II experience at Columbus Middle School in a Social Studies classroom. Upon arriving, I was welcomed by the principle of the school, who let me know that if I needed anything, to simply ask. My cooperating teacher, Ms. Hudson, also welcomed me into the classroom; she explained the middle school’s class schedule, she gave me a brief overview of the material to be taught this school year, and she introduced me to her colleagues on the “Duke” team. Everyone seemed very friendly and willing to help me if I needed something, which helped me feel more relaxed and comfortable.

I witnessed two eighth grade blocks during my time in the classroom. Both classes received the same instruction. ¬†Being the first week of school, the first part of the class focused on class rules and expectations (including being respectful, being young adults and making good decisions, and taking good risks in the classroom). ¬†Ms. Hudson showed students important parts of her classroom including the “student zone” (featuring materials such as pencils, a stapler, etc.) and the homework station. ¬†Columbus Middle School participates in a 1:1 technology program, so all students and staff have iPads to use. Ms. Hudson briefly discussed the iPads and their use for the coming year.¬†As far as social studies content went, the students listened to a rap song about explorers and then played explorer BINGO, in which I read aloud the clues and facilitated the game.

One question I took away from today is: How do you find the right balance between making students be silent during an activity and letting them chat with their peers? ¬†While I was facilitating BINGO (for the first class period), students would talk amongst each other after every clue was given. To me, it did not seem to be as big a deal because they were talking about the game and the clues, and I tend to be more relaxed about that kind of thing. Ms. Hudson, on the other hand, did not want students to talk in between questions, as she wanted us to get through the game and have students stay focused. ¬†I guess the amount one limits students’ small talk depends on the teacher and their classroom management preferences, but is there a generally accepted approach to this predicament? If you let students talk every once in a while, will they take advantage of that? Or conversely, if you let students talk every once in a while, will they respect that privilege and then be quiet when it really matters?

Day 1 – Names, Names.. and more Names