A week in the life of a teacher

It’s been a week (and a day) since we first met our students.

It’s been a week of teaching every day.

It’s been a week of ups.

It’s been a week of downs.

It’s been a week of building relationships.

It’s been a week of being tested by 11 and 12  year olds.

It’s been a week in which I have learned so much!

The first day of school, just like the kids, I was both really nervous and really excited! I was really curious to meet all of the children we would be working with, and for whom we had been planning for all these weeks.

Let me just say that I’ve thought more than once this week that we’ve got a GREAT bunch of students, and other teachers have also commented on this, so it’s gotta be pretty true! It’s a really great mix of strong leaders, hard workers, creative types, kooky ones, quiet kids, and the ones that kind of get on your nerves and know how to push the limits. I’ve really been enjoying getting to know the kids and making connections with them both in class, and through little conversations in the hallway, during work time, and on the playground.

In the classroom, I started out the first few days doing a bit of an art lesson. It turned out really well, and many of the students are really proud of their completed pieces, which are now hanging on our lockers (well almost all of them are)!
Self-Portrait Locker Art

Tuesday I began my science unit. This will be the subject (along with social) that I will teach throughout my internship. My co-op has it set up so that we focus more intensely (with 4 classes a week!) of a science unit, and then flip to doing a social unit, and so on. I actually really like this, as it gives us the opportunity to easily pick up from the day before and have more consistency. I’m working on a life science unit on the Diversity of Living Things and Interconnectedness of Ecosystems. Content wise I have a good handle on my unit and where it’s going, and I’m looking forward to working through it!

Photo Credit: BobboSphere via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: BobboSphere via Compfight cc

My first couple of lessons went pretty well. Tuesday was more of an introduction to science and the scientific process, which worked as a pre-assessment so I could know where students were coming from. Wednesday we did some fun games, and ended with a bit of an outdoor observation session. While I don’t think that they were perfect lessons, I think they went really well; all the students were engaged and on task. Thursday, yesterday, however, was a bit of a different story. I only had 8 students (the 6’s were at band and two students were away), so you’d think that might be a pretty sweet class, and so did I! I went in thinking it was going to lead to some great discussions and engagement, but it took a pretty drastic turn part way through the lesson when one student decided that it would be super great to argue with the class about a point we were discussing, and any disagreements only fuelled his fire. Try as I might to divert the attention being given to him back to the lesson, nothing I did really made it work, and though we finished the lesson on a decent point, I certainly was not really happy with the overall impression left by it.

In conferencing with my co-op it became very apparent where I’d gone astray in my classroom management, and we discussed some strategies on how I could have corrected the mistake once it happened, and also how to avoid it in future lessons. I could really see what things I could have improved on, and felt really supported in being allowed to have those things happen so that I COULD improve for another time. We had a really great discussion, and I left feeling confident that I could take some of those ideas and strategies and apply them to my lesson the next day.

Today was a brand new day, and I had the grade 7’s again (now 10 as the students who were away had returned). Last period of the day. On a Friday. It could have been a total gong show, but it was actually amazing! I laid out the expectations right from the start, the class was in on the rules that we established together, and we carried on! We got through the work we didn’t have time to finish the day before, shared some stories, looked at some alternative world view perspectives, read more stories, did some reflections, and really had a great, relaxing and chill sort of class! It was just the best way to end a Friday! I wasn’t stressed, or taxed by the students, and I really think we had some great conversations. It was a completely different class from the day before. I felt really proud that I could show that I could really handle the class and all of its characters and have an engaging lesson where everyone contributes and we do some great work.

I’m now really looking forward to next week!

Photo Credit: glendon27 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: glendon27 via Compfight cc

…and it begins!

Tomorrow’s the big day, the day I will meet the 26 young, enthusiastic children that I will call “my kids” for the next four months!

I’m ready.
I’m confident.
I’m excited!

The months (and years!) leading up to this point in time have been stressful, and there have been many tears, but they have all helped shape the person, the educator, that I am at this moment. Will it all have been enough? Will it all have been worth it?

No matter what happens tomorrow, or in the months to come, I am trusting myself to say, yes, they have been enough. I am enough. I have enough knowledge, skill, and talent. I have enough ideas, and I can do enough planning. I can be enough of everything that these students need and deserve.

Photo Credit: kyleabedalov via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: kyleabedalov via Compfight cc

While I don’t think I’ve got quite as much totally laid out as I may have originally thought I would have by now, I know that there is a reason for it. I know the outcomes I will be teaching in science, my first, and longest-lasting subject for the next four months. I know where I want to lead my students, guided by the outcomes, and I know several other assessments I’d like to do along the way. I know the fun and engaging things I want to share with the students, and the adventures I would like to go on with them. Do I have all of my lessons totally planned out? No, and that’s ok! Even just six months ago I would have been freaking out that I don’t have my lessons firmly planned yet, but today I am not. Why the change? It’s the change in me! I have learned a lot from my pre-internship, and from my adventures over the summer, and even from my co-op already, and I know that it’s ok to be a little loose until I know the students, and can begin to build those relationships with them to know how to get them to where they need to go.

Will I have a classroom full of eager students who are interested in inquiry-based learning? Will I have students who need a lot of guidance, and perhaps need more structure? Odds are there will likely be a combination of these, and I’ll have to adjust my plans and goals accordingly. Right now though, I’m focused on the now, and about building for tomorrow.

Going into the first days of school I really thought that I’d be freaking out, yet tonight, on the eve of the school year beginning, while I’m excited and have a smile on my face, I’m actually very calm! I feel that even in the last three days of preparations with my co-operating teacher that I have already found a comfort zone at the school, with some of the other staff, and certainly with my co-op, and that comfort makes it way less scary going into the first day of school. I know that my co-op is there to help me, and to encourage me to be the best that I can be. If I mess up, oh well, try again tomorrow. If a lesson doesn’t really fly, then I can take more time to work with the students; no big deal! I think that this type of comfortable relationship is exactly the type that I hope to foster with the students too. We’re all there to learn, we all take unexpected turns, and we all need second chances, extra time, and support from those around us that all of that is ok!

I am really excited to get going in my science unit, where I’ll be working with the 6s and 7s rather separately as we investigate ecosystems, classification of living things, interconnectedness of living things, how humans impact and are impacted by ecosystems around us, and how First Nations and Indigenous perspectives of the natural world can be considered and appreciated by everyone. While it is a little unsettling that we don’t totally have our daily schedule confirmed yet, I know that I will use whatever time I have with the students to share my enthusiasm for this subject area, and broaden their awareness and spark their curiosity about the world around them. I think that science is such a fun subject, and though I’m certainly not a biology expert, I’m looking forward to adventuring alongside my class through these engaging topics. I am really hoping to do a guided inquiry project as a major assessment in the unit, and though I’m still working out the details of how to get there, I’m sure we will make something fun happen no matter what.

Tomorrow it begins. I’m ready for whatever turns this internship adventure takes me on! Bring it!

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Photo Credit: Cox Academy