My second day of pre-internship was this past Wednesday, and it was another great experience. I taught my very first solo lesson (it was a mix of Health and Arts Education) and it was successful! There were a few minor bumps in the road, but I was happy with it overall (especially because I was, again, facilitating my lesson during the very last period of a day with no Phys Ed class for a very active bunch of Grade 3 students!).
The biggest thing I’ve learned from the Grade 3 class I am placed in is that it is not usually the learning activities you plan that cause difficulty/challenges, but the classroom management and small details (like how students will transition from one activity to the next). I have to meticulously plan, write out, and rehearse my instructions and transition strategies in order for the class to go smoothly. I think this is a great skill I am developing that will definitely come in handy in the future!
It has also become apparent to me how crucial it is that you know your students and how they behave (especially in certain situations). In my lesson, we started out with a brief discussion, broke out into individual work, and then came back to discuss what we’d made. This was not the best set up for an end-of-day lesson, as the students find it extremely difficult to sit still and listen to one another after having a more hands-on task preceding the discussion. After my lesson was over, my co-op told me that she does all of the discussion at the start of the lesson and then lets the students work on an engaging project for the remainder of a final period of the day, rather than trying to rein the students in again after having freedom to complete a task.
The final thing I learned during the lesson is the importance of stressing ‘Don’t move yet’ when giving instructions to young students, because as soon as you begin to tell them what they are going to do, they get up and do it before you are finished speaking. One strategy I noticed my co-op and the math specialist teacher using was a ‘secret word’ that the teacher will say once they are done talking, which signals the students that they are now free to move.
Next week, I am doing the second ‘partner’ lesson to this one, using dance instead of visual art to explore the topic of families. It should also be slightly challenging in regards to classroom management, so I will be sure to recap you all on how that goes.
On another note, the Faculty of Education hosted the annual SAFE (Social Justice and Anti-racist Anti-oppressive Forum on Education) conference yesterday, and all third year students were in attendance. I thought I would share two particular comments made during the sessions I attended that really helped to open my eyes to the reality of anti-oppressive/Treaty education.
Through my university education, I have gained tons of theoretical knowledge. It is always the putting-into-practice end of things that concerns me. This holds especially true for Treaty Education/multiculturalism/anti-oppressive education. Even after the two-day Treaty Education workshop, I still felt somewhat abandoned and lost in regards to actually TEACHING this material.
One of the presenters said that “we cannot let it be solely the responsibility of the people who are marginalized to teach this material.” Another stated something similar: “As teachers, we have to take the initiative to learn about and implement these teachings.” This was the little push I needed to shed the ‘poor me, I don’t know any of this’ mindset and realize that it is my job and should be my priority to teach these things, and, yes, I will probably have to use some of my free time to gain the knowledge needed to teach it properly.
I know that I heard a lot of “this work is hard, challenging, difficult” and I believe that it is. However, I think as long as teachers are in this profession for the right reasons, it will make this trying journey easier, because they can stay focused on the reasons that we bother to teach these tough topics at all: our students.