Last Wednesday (November 26) was my second last day of Fall semester pre-internship. Unfortunately, my teaching partner was sick and could not come to school, so it was just my co-op teacher and me.
What did work out well, however, was that my teaching partner was supposed to be teaching Phys Ed, so I ended up giving my Phys Ed lesson from last week (which got changed to being outside) a second shot! It was definitely a challenge to get the students to listen attentively, but I made it through the lesson with only minor problems.
My actual lesson for the day was a Science experiment during the final period, where students built structures out of toothpicks and marshmallows and tested how much weight they could hold before collapsing. The students were put into partners during this experiment, and I was very happy with how well they worked together. We brainstormed strategies for team work and cooperation before starting the experiment, so that was a helpful introduction.
When the students transitioned into their new spots with their partners, they listened very well. This continued during our brief review of the previous topics covered in the unit. When I started to explain the experiment instructions, however, their attention started to wander and then I could not completely get the class’ attention back for the remainder of the lesson.
Using hands-on materials with this group of students is challenging because they get so distracted. I waited until all of the instructions were given (and repeated various times) before handing out the materials for the experiment, but giving students edible manipulatives at the end of the day didn’t exactly go very smoothly… as I’m sure you can imagine.
During my post conference with my co-op teacher, she pinpointed not using consequences for inappropriate behaviour strictly enough as the main problem with my lesson: once the students get out of control, it is VERY difficult to rein them in again. This group needs clear consequences and diligent reinforcement of these consequences so that they understand they will not get away with interrupting or disrupting the class.
I am teaching Science again next week (for my FINAL lesson!) and took this subject on because I really want to focus on my classroom management. We are going to be doing another experiment, and I hope to be more authoritative with the students so they understand that I will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour this time around. I am going to focus very intently on my PD goal for this lesson (classroom management) and I hope I see some success. Wish me luck!