Day two of my pre-internship experience was once again an interesting one! I’m beginning to realize that teachers just have to be prepared for absolutely anything. You’ve got to have a plethora of things to use as back-up plans in case your lesson just isn’t working out, or for those times when something else comes up and you’ve got space to fill, or you have to fill in last-minute for a colleague who hasn’t left you anything for the students to do. Let me give you a hint, one of these things happened today!
I spent my morning observing my colleague, Mr. C, teach two phys ed lessons to our grade 7/8s and then the 6/7s. This was really a little challenging for me, as I was not really sure what to do. Do I just stand by the sidelines and truly observe, even though I could easily just jump in and do a little something or say something to one or two of the kids that would help them, or do I step in say/do something? Well, I did a little of both, and also gave my partner a few suggestions as to where he might be able to do better based on some of the things I observed that he may not have seen. While there may have been some tactical lesson opportunities missed, all of the students really enjoyed the game. Though not the approach I would perhaps have taken, it has me questioning how I will set up my phys ed lesson for next week, considering how I have witnessed two classes where the students are quite eager to play games for a continuous amount of time.
After recess I enjoyed being able to see my co-op teacher lead his class through a lesson. I appreciated that he asked a lot of questions about the students’ reasoning behind answering the questions he put on the board, and I really liked that he had the grade 7s try to solve the problem and then have the grade 8s decide if they liked what the grade 7s had done. By doing this not only was he able to check that the grade 7s had retained what they had learned from the day before, but he could check that the grade 8s also remembered it from last year. To the students though, it gave them power over their learning.
In assisting students with their math assignment it showed me just how diverse a class can be. One grade 7 student had the assignment done in minutes, whereas a few of the grade 8s were struggling. I also noticed how reliant many students were on their calculators, even to calculate 5×2. I found this quite alarming, as although I don’t have a problem with students using calculators for problems, I would think that simple problems, including single digit multiplication tables and factors should be able to be done without one at a grade 8 level. It was mainly due to this lack of basic math that many students were struggling on their fraction problems, because without that knowledge it’s very difficult to find common factors, which are needed in fraction problems!
My lesson was up right after lunch. I was feeling confident. I had a solid lesson plan, a supporting power point, a clear target sheet, and I knew what I wanted to accomplish. Over lunch though I did end up creating my own slide show, similar to pechaflickr, so that I could have total control over the images the students would see. I was feeling a little hesitant to use the actual website for fear that a questionable photo just might appear in our game! I was all set to go, when 5 minutes before I was to start teaching, my co-op informed me that he had to leave unexpectedly! So this now meant that we were scrambling to find a teacher to come and be in our classroom as the bell was ringing, the laptop I was going to be using was now going with my co-op, the students were coming into the room, and I was not ready to roll! Eeek! Thankfully, the grade 6/7 teacher, along with her two pre-interns, were able to join our class, help me get a computer set up, and keep on going ahead.
I felt that my lesson went quite well, despite the students being quite unruly! I did try a few call and response strategies to get their attention, in addition to asking for their attention several times. I was not, however, super successful every time in getting them to actually all be quiet so that I could explain something, ask a question, or hear the responses. In speaking to the other teacher afterward she said I did a good job in managing the class though, as they were certainly being unusually rowdy. I knew that the target of class management would be difficult on just the second week since I had not witnessed many class management strategies to play off of in the week before, and then to add to it that their teacher wasn’t there made it even more difficult. Next time I think I may try practicing a call and response type of strategy at the start of the lesson to see if that will help. I may also have to outline several different types of instruction, like the “do now,” as it seemed that students had not experienced something like that. Again, it’s difficult to establish routine with a group you only see and teach once a week.
Overall though, I think the students enjoyed the lesson. They had fun playing the story game, and enjoyed making a whole lot of 6-word stories. They were hesitant at first, but once they got the hang of it could keep creating them! I felt slightly panicked for time during the lesson, and as it seemed that I didn’t plan enough! In the end though, the lesson took almost exactly the time I had planned, and by that time students had had enough of what we were working on. I think that if I were to have added any extra extensions to the lessons I would also have had to plan a brain break or something after the 60 minute mark or so. I could probably have even put a short break in the middle of what I had done as I noticed that a few students were getting a bit restless in their seats. Thankfully, when I was finished my lesson the other teacher was able to get them up and playing a really fun interactive math game, as our teacher was not able to leave us a lesson plan for the next subject slot. That game will definitely be added to my list of activities to have on hand when there’s extra time!
Having my first lesson finished though feels quite good. I am definitely more confident that I can actually teach what I plan to a group of students, as opposed to just a group of my peers. I do need to work on my class management, but I think that this will come with time. As I get more comfortable teaching, and as the students get more accustomed to me I think that it will be easier to work with them.
Next week…phys ed! Wish me luck! Time to break out some skillful movement games!
Any tips for me on managing the class in the gymnasium?