During my high school placement, I did a lot of observation and a little teaching. The majority of my day was spent working one-on-one with students. I loved it, and I really learned a lot. Now, the first two weeks of my middle school placement were similar. I observed the new teacher's style, discipline procedures, routines, etc. Whenever students were working, I was circulating the classroom, helping students and answering questions.
This week marks the beginning of the actual teaching period of my student teaching. I am fully in charge of lesson planning, grading, teaching, and everything else that goes with being a teacher. I'll admit that the transition has been slightly overwhelming. This is the first time that I have been able to choose what is taught and how it will be taught. But, I am so thankful for this opportunity because I believe it truly reflects, to the greatest extent possible, what being a teacher is actually like.
With only three full days of teaching, I feel like I have already learned a ton.
- Do not let middle school students choose their own groups. Groups, to be effective, need to be carefully selected.
- Always have an activity planned for students who finish early. I had not incorporated this into my lesson plans for the week, but that has been changed. Students know, now, that if they finish the activity early they are to create a problem of their own related to the day's lesson. For example, my students have really been struggling with proportion problems. Since we've been practicing proportion problems this week, I had students who finished early today create problems of their own that can be solved using proportions.
- An organizational system is crucial. In just a few days of teaching, I have become overwhelmed by paper. I've kind of made up a system as I've gone, and while it has worked it has not been the best. I need to start thinking about how I am going to keep organized when I have a classroom of my own.
Everyday, my cooperating teacher takes a ton of notes as I teach first period. It works out nice since we have second period plan. So, after first hour, we sit down and talk about how first period went. The feedback he has been giving me is most helpful. It's nice because he writes down both what worked well and what needs some work. Instead of feeling criticized, I often end up feeling encouraged. Because after I finish teaching a lesson, I am usually only focusing on those things that I wish I had done differently or better. So, it is reassuring to hear that, for the most part, the lesson went well.
One thing I've been working on since Monday is rephrasing my questions. My first instinct is to say, “Mary, how do we find circumference?” I never really thought much of this until my cooperating teacher suggested that I change the order. Instead, I should say, “How do we find the circumference, Mary?” Though it sounds weird to me, I do see the reasoning behind his suggestion. When I preface a question with the name of who it is intended for, many of the students may tune out the question or not attempt to answer on their own since they know they will not be called on. However, if I ask a question without yet specifying the name, all of the students should be thinking about an answer to the question until I specify who I am calling on. I've found that this is a hard habit to break. Often, during the week, I've already said a student's name before I remember that I need to place the question first and the name last.