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

Senior Seminar – Reflective Teaching Assignment

  1. How do each of the following qualities (openmindedness, responsibility, wholeheartedness, and collaboration) contribute to reflective teaching?

Openmindedness is¬†“an active desire to listen to more sides than one, to give full attention to alternative possibilities, and to recognize the possibility of error even in beliefs that are dearest to us” (11). ¬†Openmindedness is a significant component of reflective teaching; a reflective practitioner must look at all approaches to a situation and predict and reflect on the possible consequences – both negative and positive – of those alternative approaches. ¬†Being openminded means that teachers acknowledge that there is more than one way to teaching, not just one’s own traditional way, and it also means that teachers ask themselves why they have chosen the approach they use.

Responsibility¬†“involves careful consideration of the consequences to which an action leads” (11). ¬†These consequences that teachers must consider include three different types, including personal, academic, and social and political consequences (12). ¬†Reflective teachers must assume this responsibility – being aware of the consequences of their approach and actions, reflective teachers can better predict successful situations in their classrooms. ¬†Although teachers will never be able to fully know what will happen in advance, reflective teachers have a slight advantage in the fact that their reflection allows them to preemptively manage unexpected outcomes of learning.

Wholeheartedness means that teachers “regularly examine their own assumptions and beliefs and the results of their actions and approach all situations with the attitude that they can learn something new” (12). ¬†Wholeheartedness is the combination of openmindedness and responsibility – reflective teachers both see all perspectives to approaches in teaching, and they also examine the possible consequences of their teaching, good and bad. ¬†Embracing one of these attributes is a step in the right direction, but to fully be a reflective teacher, there cannot be one without the other; reflective teachers must wholeheartedly invest their time in being thoughtful about their approaches and the results of those strategies.

Collaboration is an attribute of reflective teaching that Schon has appeared to neglect in his theory on reflective teaching – “although reflection can at times be a solitary and highly individualistic affair, it can also be enhanced by communication and dialogue with others” (24). ¬†Collaboration has become an essential component of reflective teaching because teaching is not an isolated profession; by using the human resources around them, reflective teachers can better understand alternative perspectives and approaches to teaching. ¬†They can share a problem with a colleague and ask for their suggestion on how to prevent the problem. ¬†This colleague may have had a similar experience, or they may simply provide that unbiased point of view that allows the teacher to step back and question their intentions. ¬†In addition, by having that dialogue and sharing how you will change your approach, you can have your fellow colleagues on the “same page”, so that, if appropriate, they can install such approaches in their classrooms in order to create a sense of consistency among students.

2. Re-read Teresa’s “teacher as technician” and “teacher as reflective practitioner” responses on pages 2-3 in Chapter 1. What is “technical” about the first response, and what is “reflective” about the second response? What does this tell you about reflective teaching?

The first response is “technical” because Rachel focused on the students as the problem instead of her approach – she “focused on devising ways to present those students with more specific consequences for not complying with the teacher’s directions” (2). She didn’t question her own goals and values, but rather questioned those of the students.

The second response is “reflective” because Rachel stepped back from the situation and considered alternative perspectives. Instead of looking at the students as the problem, Rachel turned her attention to her approach ¬†– she “began to ask herself questions about the appropriateness of the classroom’s structure” (3). ¬†She took a more holistic, self-reflective approach to prevent the problem.

As we discussed in class, the major difference between these two scenarios is who the onus is put on Рa technical teacher puts the onus on students to make a change, whereas the reflective practitioner puts the onus on themselves to prevent the problem.  While a teacher as technician is trying to combat the problem through their efforts, a reflective teacher is willing to question their approach, values, and intentions and look at the situation from diverse angles in order to predict possible consequences of their actions and how the students will respond.

Senior Seminar – Reflective Teaching Assignment