Yesterday (December 3rd) was my final day of fall semester pre-internship. I think it was one of the best – I just had an all-around awesome day with the students, my co-op teacher, and teaching partner.
My end-of-day Science lesson went over very well, which was the cherry on top of my day. I felt that I followed through with my PD goal better in this last lesson that I had in all the previous 7. After last week’s Science experiment went a tad awry, I wanted to give a last class experiment another shot and really work on my classroom management skills.
I started the lesson by telling students my expectations: We will not interrupt someone else when it is their turn to talk. If we have something to say, we will raise our hand. If we talk out of turn, we will get a point (my co-op uses this strategy and it works very well). If you get three points, you will have to sit out of the experiment (with a chance to rejoin if you feel you can use your self control better, which I did not tell the students outright). The students are always eager to do hands-on work, so this provides motivation to behave appropriately.
I then used the point system diligently to let students know that I wanted to be taken seriously. In previous lessons, I feel that I let too many inappropriate behaviours slide, and this caused the misbehaviour of the entire class to continue escalating throughout the lesson, with minimal chance of regaining control over the class. I also felt that I scanned the room well during this lesson, and used my ‘teacher look’ to stop inappropriate behaviour in its tracks. Overall, I felt a lot more in control during the entire class directions for the experiment.
When I started my pre-internship, I was very torn on using ‘consequences’ with students. For this group of Grade 3’s, however, this is the strategy that seems to work best. They need very explicit directions on what the teacher expects to see, and also clear consequences for not following these guidelines. I think if a teacher started the year using a different strategy, these students could use more self-discipline and self-motivation. It is especially hard to judge, as some students in the class physically cannot control their mouths and bodies.
Perhaps a better way to look at it than ‘consequences’ is simply making students accountable and responsible for their actions. Often, I am worried that I will be seen as too harsh, but I have definitely learned that a teacher who doesn’t use authority in front of their students is basically inviting them to walk all over them. If students are not aware of what you expect of them, and you do not enforce these guidelines, they will never respect you or the guidelines that are needed to run your classroom smoothly.
After “my turn to talk” and explain the instructions (which I also think I did very well – with clarity and repetition), the students had a chance to break into groups and do specified jobs to complete their task for the experiment (they were building bridges). This also went fairly smoothly and the only time I had some difficulty reining the students in was when I had to test how much weight each group’s bridge could hold. My co-op reminded me how hard it is to manage group work within a noisy classroom.
Overall, I am very proud of my final lesson and of how far I have come in only 8 weeks. I was sad to see the students leave the room at the end of the day and I am already excited to step back into their classroom in the winter semester. I can only imagine how much more I will learn and grow during my 3 week block.
Until next time,