While I am very excited to finally be entering a classroom with the opportunity to teach, I am also nervous and vaguely uncomfortable. For the first year and a half, the education program has taught us much about the theory of education, though very little to nothing in practice. Now is my chance to apply the theory we have learned to a classroom. However, we have just started looking into classroom management and strategies a few weeks ago. I feel very unprepared, and that is where I find my discomfort.
Tomorrow is the start of my placement, so it is time to set a few goals. These are some of the attitudes and methods I hope to gain experience in, so that I may work towards becoming a better teacher.
1. Enthusiasm and confidence
In my lab last week, I told my professor about how nervous I was feeling. His response was to ask me if he (my professor) looked nervous. I said no, then he told me that he was. Instead of showing that to his students, he uses his own nervousness to give him an “edge.” My nervousness does not have to destroy the experience. My seminar leader gave me some more helpful advice. This placement is where we are going to learn to teach. One mistake will not ruin my career as a teacher; it will just be another learning experience from which I can become a better teacher.
I expect to reach this goal by reminding myself of what my professors told me; that I shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes, and instead should focus on learning. I am going to enter the classroom and show the students my enthusiasm, and share with them my confidence that we will have a good, successful day. Even if the lesson goes off track, it will still be a valuable experience. If the lesson starts to fall apart, I will not let it ruin the day, because it doesn’t have to. I have the opportunity to work with my co-operating teacher and my placement partner to make sure we handle everything to the best of our abilities. If someone were to be looking for signs that I have achieved this goal, they may find it in my reflections, and perhaps in my post-conference with my co-operating teacher and partner. At the end of the day, if I can take away from the experience with confidence and enthusiasm, and can create a plan to do better the next time around, that would show that my confidence has not been broken, and that I still have the enthusiasm to be in a classroom and to teach.
2. Speaking to everyone in the room and moving around
Since this will be the first time I get to stand at the front and teach a lesson to a room full of students, I know that I will feel a bit intimidated. If this is the case, it will be hard to concentrate on practicing the few strategies we have learned in class while simultaneously keeping our lesson plan in order. I want to make sure that I do not fall into any limiting “comfort zones.” I want to make sure that I do not fall into a habit of talking to the one attentive student sitting at the front and instead, focus on speaking to the entire room. I also do not want to remain at the front of the class like a statue. Every student needs to be engaged, and it can make a huge difference just by asking all students questions, walking around, motioning to students’ work, and making eye contact. During our lessons, I will make the effort to engage all students in one way or another.
An observer will be able to tell if I have done this successfully if they see the students watching me attentively, and if they are more engaged in the lesson than they were before.
3. Varying my approach in teaching
It’s important to acknowledge the different ways that students learn. Again, I don’t want to pick just one approach; there needs to be variety in order to address all students. I will achieve this goal by providing visual, auditory, and written resources for the students. An observer will be able to tell I have achieved my goal if all of the learning needs of the students have been met. Students will be able to retain the lesson easier than before.
4. Staying relaxed and have fun!
Classrooms can easily get out of hand, messy, and chaotic. Especially when you’re new and still learning how to establish classroom rules. I will achieve this goal by not getting worked up or stressed. It’s important to have fun and to remain enthusiastic! An observer will be able to tell if I’ve reached this goal if the students and I are still having fun. Everything can be a learning moment, so there’s no need to get upset. Instead, I’m going to have a positive outlook!