This past Wednesday (October 15th) was my first day of pre-internship at Gladys McDonald School. I am in a Grade 3 classroom and had a wonderful first day! My partner (follow her!) and I were a mixture of nerves and excitement, and our introductory lesson we planned went very well, considering it was our first time ever teaching a real lesson as part of the Elementary Education program (we have had lots of volunteering in school environments, but were always just assistants in the classroom, never the central teacher). Thankfully, we corresponded with our co-operating teacher before coming into the classroom, and she gave us a few tweaks to make to our lesson that saved us from complete disaster.
The Grade 3 students in the classroom are a very lively bunch! Their abundance of energy means this experience will provide excellent classroom management practice, as my partner and I both quickly found out. The teachers in the school are great role models, though. They are very patient and the students seem to really respond to their techniques, one of which my partner and I used to facilitate our lesson.
Here are a few things I took away from my first day:
-The math curriculum can be implemented in more engaging ways than having worksheets or the teacher doing example problems on the board (which is the main way I was taught math during elementary and high school). At Gladys McDonald School (GMS), there is one Math specialist teacher who teaches math to every grade. She used a story book to teach the students about patterns, which I found very refreshing! Her classroom also has a large focus on small groups working at specific stations, and I also appreciated the chance to observe this type of classroom set up.
-We have been learning a lot about the parts of a literacy session in my Education Reading (ERDG) class this semester. My co-op teacher uses Daily Five in her classroom, so it was really interesting to see the literacy session we have read about being played out in front of my eyes. I especially enjoyed sitting in on a guided reading group. It seems very beneficial to the students to be put into groups based on their present reading level.
-During the first period in the morning, the students were working on writing using an online story book program called My Story Maker. I highly recommend everyone check it out! It allows students to choose characters and the main thing the character is going to accomplish in the story. It also animates the story in front of the students’ eyes. A very engaging way to get students to write creatively.
-It is important for teachers to have high expectations of their students, but at the same time, they have to be realistic about what their students can accomplish. Going into the classroom for the first time, my partner and I weren’t really sure where the students would be at. You have to really get to know your students in order to create lessons that are of appropriate difficulty.
-I had to remind myself that, although I have learned the theory side of teaching, I am completely new at the actual act of teaching students. When planning my lesson for the next week, the co-op teacher gave me some feedback saying I would have to split my material into 2 lessons. I didn’t even realize that I had tried to squeeze two lessons worth of material into one, which wouldn’t benefit me or the students. At first I was discouraged, but then I realized that the best way I can learn is by making mistakes and having lessons that flop. The lesson (which is a mixture of Health and Arts Education talking about families) also involves having the students choreographing sections of a song in small groups. My co-op told me that the students can do this, but it may be challenging for them. I am excited to try something that may be something a bit more difficult. This is a learning experience for me, so I am going to try and experiment with the many things I have learned throughout my previous 2 years in the program. I will let you know how it goes! 🙂
And finally, a brief description of the lesson my partner and I used to introduce ourselves and get to know the students a little bit better.
First, my partner and I made pretend book covers (shown below). Each object on the cover represented something about ourselves. The students then took turns guessing what these objects might mean for my partner and I. This portion of the lesson was to instill the notion of “not judging a book by its cover.”
Then, the students created their own puzzle pieces that had objects that represented themselves on them (my partner and I made examples – below). At the end of the lesson, all of the students laid their puzzle pieces down to create a class puzzle. It is a great strategy to show that although we are different, we all come together to make something new. The puzzle pieces can be saved and used to facilitate circle talks (when a student contributes to the conversation, they lay their puzzle piece down). I really wish I could show you the completed puzzle, but some of them have student names on them. Just imagine something super cute 🙂
My next field day is tomorrow, where I am teaching part one of my Arts/Health Ed. families lesson. Wish me luck!
-KKF (or, now, “Miss. Fidelack”)