On Wednesday, I participated in a grade 7 classroom as part of my field experience. After stopping by in the office and meeting the vice principal of the school, we met our co-operating teacher and went to her class. The weather was quite cold, so my partner and I got to experience an indoor recess, which can be easily translated to anarchy and cute chaos.
The students were hyper.
When we got to the classroom, the students were all there and were excited to have interns in their classroom. This was the first very good sign. The students were angels. Despite having so much pent up energy, they settled down and read for 10-15 minutes when class started again, and after their reading period, my partner and I introduced ourselves. We said the basics, like our names, what we’re studying, why we were in their classroom (to learn how to be teachers), and our hobbies. I told the students that in my spare time I like to play video games, and that my favourite game is Skyrim. The students seemed really excited to hear that. I said I liked video games because I couldn’t think of any other hobbies of mine that might be more interesting to hear about. Looking back, I am so glad that I said what I did. It created an instant connection with a lot of the students, and they were really excited to talk to me about Skyrim and dragons. Both my partner and I started off on a positive note, and it set the mood for the rest of the day.
We started our lesson by describing our expectations for the students. We told them that if we say, “Clap twice if you can hear me,” we expect them to clap twice and quiet down. It worked out at first. We also told them that we would be, “Using the same expectations rubric that they are used to,” and that we would only answer students who raised their hands. They took it well, then my partner started to explain “Shrinky ink” paper. While she was explaining, I handed out a package that had one sheet of shrinky dink paper, and four caricature templates to every student. The idea was to have students trace a template and draw in their own faces, or to draw whatever they want so long as their names were on the sheet. We brought a toaster oven, and as they finished their drawings, we would put the paper in the oven and it would make the paper shrink down in size. After it cooled, we put magnets on the back, then put it up on the board.
The lesson went very well. It was new, engaging, and apparently very interesting to the students. A part of me suspects that they were just happy to be able to say the word “dink” in class. This gave us the opportunity to walk around and talk to the students while they were colouring, and to learn their names. We made them laugh, and did our best to build relationships. A lot of the boys showed me their sketchbooks, because they wanted to show me their “Skryim drawings.” I spent some time talking to a particularly shy girl about Doctor Who, and other television shows that she liked. It was the perfect opportunity to get to know the class, and for the most part, everything went as planned. There are things we could have done better, but it was a definite success.
One thing that we need to work on is time management. We had the idea that the students would have a certain amount of time to colour, then when our co-operating teacher wanted to start her lesson, we would move to the back and shrink the paper while the class was working. Instead, it went for the entire period until the recess bell went off. We did not set a definite closure, nor did we give them instructions as to what they should do if they finished early. A lot of them finished early and due to their pent up energy, started to run around the class and disrupt those who were trying to colour, or work on other assignments. The packages were also stapled, which was not effective since they could not take the package apart easily. Next time we will probably use paper clips. When it was time to pack up, I had a hard time getting their attention. I tried saying, “Clap twice if you can hear me,” but after I said it three times, I gave up. I walked over to a group of boys and repeated what I had to say about cleaning up, but I wish I hadn’t.
Next time, we need to set more expectations, especially regarding the end of the lesson. We left the end too open, and could have lost control of the class because of it. A definite schedule needs to be set, as well. We forgot to say, “Work on this for the next 15 minutes then we are going to clean up for another 5 minutes.” Also, I have to have more confidence in expecting the students to listen to me. If I say, “Clap twice if you can hear me,” I can’t be afraid to wait and expect them to listen. I’m still new to working in a classroom, so I’m sure that I will find more confidence the more I work in a classroom. For next week, I have to plan a lesson in Physical Education. I wanted to start with something not quite in my comfort zone, and gym class was one of my options. I’m excited to have the chance to teach, and I’m going to use what I learned to ensure that next week is even better!
Thanks for reading,