Archive for March, 2012

This week I felt like I really made a breakthrough in my confidence as a teacher and in my ability to connect with students. Up to this point I’ve been very nervous about my delivery, my presence in the classroom, my reactions to and from students, etc. But this week I began to relax my fears about teaching and began to focus on teaching my best, whether that resulted in totally amazing lessons or horrible failures. I realize that as a student teacher I’m not expected by anyone to be a master teacher, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to excel from the beginning. This high standard that I’ve established for myself, however, was beginning to make me second guess my ability to teach and to doubt the value of the content that I was teaching. Now that I’ve relaxed a little, I’m beginning to truly enjoy teaching.
My content delivery is improving. My lessons are getting more interesting and more engaging (from what I can tell and what I’ve been told by my mentor teacher). I’m starting to branch out from the teaching style of my mentor teacher and have begun the process of implementing formative and reflective assessments into the curriculum for the betterment of my students. I’m feeling much more confident in my student name memorization, and I’m beginning the process of developing relationships with specific students. I’ve identified several students who are in need of scaffolds for this class and have begun to think critically about how I can create those scaffolds in the context of this class. I have corrected student work for revision and have had students ask me for assistance for understanding and ability development. With my reflective assessments, I’ve corrected student thought as little as possible to try and encourage their creative thinking and voice. This week I received a reflection from a struggling ELL student which was incredibly profound and insightful. His reflections so far have been simple and have revealed a difficulty with English. But this reflection showed his developing competency and summed up the issue we were discussing in a way that I couldn’t have if I tried. His perspective and understanding of the content were very clearly stated, which justifies in my mind all of my hard work and solidifies my belief that I can be successful reaching students of diverse abilities and backgrounds for their educational development and academic success.

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The most essential aspect of successful teaching is connection to students. Every other essential aspect depends on this one aspect. Students must feel welcome in your classroom and they must regard themselves as active members of the learning community. They must feel welcome enough to speak their mind in the presence of their peers and must be comfortable enough to ask for help when needed. And most importantly, they need to trust you with their education: they need to believe that the content you’re teaching them is relevant and important.
I’ve been learning about the importance of this truth during my second week in the classroom. I’ve been learning that all students are slow to trust a new teacher. During this week I taught several lessons unofficially. Mr. D and I have been practicing Co-Teaching, where each teacher takes turns guiding student learning or circling the classroom to answer questions and help students with assignments. Mr. D and I traded off teaching U.S. History. Mr. D taught 1st period and I taught and modeled his lecture 3rd period. The students are comfortable with Mr. D and respond to him appropriately. My students have been very appropriate, but are slow to respond to my questions and prompts. There is a general feeling of discomfort in the classroom, partly coming from my nervousness and partly coming from student uncertainty with my ability and methods. Over the last week, there has definitely been a transition towards a more comfortable environment in the classroom, though we’re still a long ways away from participation of every student in the class discussions. This will be developed as students become more comfortable with me as a teacher and as I develop my teaching ability and individual relationships with students. I haven’t had as many opportunities to interact with students in first, second, or third period as I would like because of the amount of lectures, videos, and individual work activities that we’ve done. This, however, isn’t the case with periods four and five.
Periods four and five (A.P. U.S. History) have been working this week on a project on different aspects of the 1920s (as prescribed by Mr. D). During that time, I’ve had the chance to interact with each group directly and in some cases helped them discover understandings or information they otherwise wouldn’t have had for their presentation. My two major contributions to student projects were thesis statement development and Google Docs. On Wednesday of this week, I supervised the research going on in the library and was able to help several groups define and solidify concepts and developments from a focus in the 1920s to a specific thesis statement that defined those elements. Specifically, I was able to help groups understand that their specific developments were aspects of larger movements during the 1920s toward conservatism or towards radicalism. The specific developments therefore gain more importance and significance when understood in these broader contexts. In addition, I was able to help several students use Google Docs, which was basically unknown prior to my help on this project. Most of the students who used Google Docs at my suggestion really enjoyed the process and understood the significance of being able to create documents together online, instead of creating projects individual and putting them together before the presentation. In addition to these two developments, I’ve also been able to interact with students specifically about the quality of their work on their homework, helping them understand what they can do for correction and revision as an aspect of what I expect as their teacher and grader of a majority of their homework.

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No matter what your expectations are going in to teaching, you inevitably find that it is something entirely different than what you planned. When you’re sitting in the college classroom imagining yourself in front of a high school classroom saying something witty or incredible profound, the only factor that you can count on is yourself and your incredibly witty anecdotes. Nothing prepares you for standing in front of the classroom like standing in front of the classroom. It’s a little like trying to learn how to swim by reading books about swimming. You may understand the different aspects of swimming and may think that you understand how to swim from what you’ve read, but eventually you have to get in the water.
Though I am not officially teaching yet, I’ve been given many of the responsibilities of the classroom and I’m already feeling swamped. Mr. D has given me most of the grading responsibilities which I’ve attempted to accomplish during repeat lectures and during our half hour lunch. Having little experience with Mr. D’s grading expectations, I’ve spent a lot of time pouring over student work attempting to determine if they’ve met specific criteria. In addition, I’m still exploring the teacher network access system which has all of the information about all of Mr. D’s students, in addition to the grading and attendance systems. This is all in addition to learning all the students’ names and writing down notes about Mr. D’s lectures and speaking style so that I can successfully teach his class in two weeks.
I’ve had some interaction with students. I’ve mostly attempted to remember their names while handing out papers. One student’s work was insufficient on an assignment, so I had a conversation with him about Mr. D’s and my expectations for the assignment, telling him that he needed to rework the assignment and turn it back in. I’ve also made an announcement in class about a homework assignment that I corrected and have been included by Mr. Diehl in several lectures through references to my experiences or to specific historical events that I’m aware of. With two days under my belt of being in the classroom, we’re already making progress towards students being comfortable with me and towards my establishment as an authority figure. We’re working towards co-teaching opportunities next week where I will be taking over lecture content for different classes so that students can get used to seeing me in front of the classroom. Overall, Mr. D has been very supportive of me and I feel like I’m truly making progress towards establishing myself in the classroom as a capable and proficient teacher.

Read Full Post »

No matter what your expectations are going in to teaching, you inevitably find that it is something entirely different than what you planned. When you’re sitting in the college classroom imagining yourself in front of a high school classroom saying something witty or incredible profound, the only factor that you can count on is yourself and your incredibly witty anecdotes. Nothing prepares you for standing in front of the classroom like standing in front of the classroom. It’s a little like trying to learn how to swim by reading books about swimming. You may understand the different aspects of swimming and may think that you understand how to swim from what you’ve read, but eventually you have to get in the water.
Though I am not officially teaching yet, I’ve been given many of the responsibilities of the classroom and I’m already feeling swamped. Mr. D has given me most of the grading responsibilities which I’ve attempted to accomplish during repeat lectures and during our half hour lunch. Having little experience with Mr. D’s grading expectations, I’ve spent a lot of time pouring over student work attempting to determine if they’ve met specific criteria. In addition, I’m still exploring the teacher network access system which has all of the information about all of Mr. D’s students, in addition to the grading and attendance systems. This is all in addition to learning all the students’ names and writing down notes about Mr. D’s lectures and speaking style so that I can successfully teach his class in two weeks.
I’ve had some interaction with students. I’ve mostly attempted to remember their names while handing out papers. One student’s work was insufficient on an assignment, so I had a conversation with him about Mr. D’s and my expectations for the assignment, telling him that he needed to rework the assignment and turn it back in. I’ve also made an announcement in class about a homework assignment that I corrected and have been included by Mr. Diehl in several lectures through references to my experiences or to specific historical events that I’m aware of. With two days under my belt of being in the classroom, we’re already making progress towards students being comfortable with me and towards my establishment as an authority figure. We’re working towards co-teaching opportunities next week where I will be taking over lecture content for different classes so that students can get used to seeing me in front of the classroom. Overall, Mr. D has been very supportive of me and I feel like I’m truly making progress towards establishing myself in the classroom as a capable and proficient teacher.

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