At the start of the semester I had made a blog post about what my goals were going to be for my field experience.
They were as follows:
1. Enthusiasm and confidence
This was my number one goal for the last few weeks. I knew myself well enough to guess that I would be scared, nervous, and worried about getting in front of a classroom full of children and teach something. On my first day of teaching, I was incredibly nervous. I tried to tell myself what I learned in our lab, that I should use the nervousness to give me that “edge” needed in teaching, but it won over and instead I felt mildly awkward and confused. I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing. However, over the next few weeks I got to see my lesson plans affecting my students. The concepts and images I was showing them made an impact that I didn’t think I could create. Even after the second week, when I asked them to “remind me” (in other words, remind themselves) what we had learned a week ago, they were able to retell everything we had covered. After each lesson I taught, I would go back the next week and ask them what they had learned, and every time I felt more and more confidence in what I was doing. I could see my lessons engaging my students, and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. In fact, I would argue that there is nothing more rewarding than watching your students be positively impacted by what you’ve taught them.
After a few weeks, I had found my confidence, and with it came my enthusiasm.
2. Speaking to everyone in the room and moving around
This was a difficult goal to accomplish. I had difficulties with it due to the technology I was using in my class. I used PowerPoints and YouTube videos in almost every lesson I taught, but there was no clicker to go to the next slide so that I could leave the laptop for too long. I had my cooperating teacher’s laptop at the front so I could write notes on the board, but the projector took up the other half of the front of the class, which left me with little room. I tried to walk around the class once or twice, but it ended up distracting the students from the PowerPoint that I wanted them to watch. When it was time to switch to the next slide, I would have to hustle back to the front so as to not waste time, and that got a little bit distracting. I would love to invest in a clicker, so that I can still make use the PowerPoints that worked so well in my class, and still be able to move around the room without having to stay too close to the laptop. (Examples of my PowerPoints can be found at the bottom of each page under “Lesson Plans.”)
When the students were working though, I made sure to walk up and down the rows and stand in different spots in the room when I didn’t have to use the laptop. This made it very easy to manage the different chatty groups who would often make too much noise, and it helped me “reach out” to students who were too shy to raise their hands or call for me from across the class.
3. Varying my approach in teaching
I don’t think I worked on this as much as I would have liked to. The first week I had the opportunity to teach Physical Education, which is a drastic change from the dynamics of a classroom. It was a lot harder to manage the students because they had to navigate to the gymnasium and gather themselves once they were all ready and changed. I had to come up with a management strategy to ensure I still had control of the class, which I succeeded in doing. I talk about my first lesson in this blog post. However, for most of my lessons after that, my approach was to guide my lesson with visual examples in a PowerPoint at the front of the class. I would go over what we did last week, I would introduce the “set” of my lesson to grab a hold of their attention, then start discussing different concepts and images through my PowerPoints. My use of technology never dominated the lesson, I only ever used it to further my points or to provide visual context for some of the concepts we had covered. For my last lesson, I changed it up by getting the students to get up, move around, and act out concepts we had learned instead of writing or drawing something. It worked really well, and it taught me that sometimes the students need a bit of a change in plans to grab their interests again. I would still like to explore further into different variations of teaching, though.
My final goal was to stay relaxed and have fun. Without a doubt, after I got over my anxieties about my first week of teaching, I learned to stay relaxed, and the fun came naturally. Now that I have an idea as to how to create and reflect of my lesson plans, I’m excited to have the chance to create lessons that build on each other over multiple days in a row, or over many months. The lessons I taught had to be able to stand on their own, so I look forward to taking what I’ve learned about classroom management and teaching to create greater, more engaging lesson plans. I’ve learned a lot about getting to know my students, and how to reach them in different ways, and I plan on being able to incorporate more adaptive dimensions and variables in my lesson plans to be able to address the diversity present in my future classrooms. This experience has been a rewarding one. On top of everything I’ve learned this semester, this field experience has taught me that I sincerely want to be a teacher.
I look forward to carrying these concepts into my future field placements, where I will continue to learn how to be the most inclusive, engaging, and effective teacher I can be.
Thanks for reading,