As I approach the start of my first pre-internship I do so with a variety of feelings. Really it’s a mixture of nervous excitement and self-doubt. I feel excited and am looking forward to being in a classroom. I’m not worried about working with the kids but I’m a little nervous about being observed and critiqued. I am looking forward to hearing what went well, the things I can improve but I’m nervous for those surprises, things I didn’t know I do or something that totally doesn’t work. Those are the moments when the self-doubt creeps in. Those “but what if bomb moments…” are hard to get rid of no matter how prepared or confident you are.
I am glad we met Rochelle before– she seems to be aligned with my world views. She’s got a great sense of humour, she’s caring, she’s “firm but fair”. It’s crazy that you can tell that just from seeing five minutes of a teacher with their students. I think it is great to have a cooperating teacher who is a great role model but it adds more nerves. I want to live up to the standard she has set. I don’t want her students to feel any different when she’s teaching then when I’m teaching.
I feel confident about our lesson. It is fun and engaging and helps us get to know the students. I’m glad that Anne and I are able to teach together. It’ll be nice to have a shoulder to lean on, someone to celebrate our success with and if it all comes crashing down, well, misery loves company.
We arrived early- Rochelle was in her classroom waiting for us. She greeted us and made us feel welcome. We ditched our stuff, quickly reviewed the lesson plan and headed for a walk around the school. Rochelle does indoor morning supervision so her laps around the halls doubled as a bit of a tour. After we situated ourselves we greeted students with Rochelle as they came piling through the doors. The last few students trickled in and we headed to our classroom. The bell rang and it was show time. The students start every morning with silent reading. It was amazing to see them file in to their desks pull out their books, and, for the most part, start reading. After O Canada and some announcements Rochelle reintroduced to the class and it was time for our lesson. Your first lesson is like pulling teeth– better to take a breath, and get it started than to sit and delay. Anne and I worked well as a team. We introduced ourselves, we shared our examples and then we gave our instructions. It felt really good. Anne and I shared the room well and we worked great as a team. We walked the aisles and met/helped the students. We took turns helping those who needed and chatting with everyone to find out about them. When the lesson was done we summarized it well together and then we sat down and breathed a sigh of relief. Lesson #1 was a general success.
For the rest of the day we observed Rochelle. We watched how she taught, we looked for any classroom procedures and we wrote notes like it was going out of style. We watched Rochelle teach Math, Social and the Daily 3. It was a great chance to steal some teaching tricks. For both Social and Math the classes started with a review of the last class. Then some new concepts were introduced. I watched as the students raised their hands to answer questions that Rochelle not only made sure that several people had a chance to answer from she also waited for a while so that everyone had a chance to process the question and decide on their answer. This was a little trick that really caught my attention. The other trick that I will steal is based on the end of her Math lesson. The students had some time left after the lesson so they played math games. Rochelle told the students that they would get points for correct answers for a team they don’t know yet. This kept the students interested and invested but she never let them know what the teams were. Never. Not even after the game was done. Rochelle also has very few classroom management issues. She told us that she worked very hard to get to this point. It also might have to do with strategic seating arrangement. Which brings me to the layout of the classroom and learning environment.
Rochelle’s classroom is laid our in a more traditional method. The students sit in rows of desks. There are whiteboards and a projector at the front and a little lectern style desk to teach from. Rochelle’s desk is in the back corner. The walls have lots of helpful posters- some are a reference to ELA concepts; others are about how we treat each other and The Growth Mindset. The classroom is cleaned and organized with a few options for flexible seating. It is definitely more of the style of classroom that I remember as a kid.
For Next Week:
As I prepare to teach solo next week I reflect on what went well, what didn’t work and what I might change for next week or the next time I teach this lesson.
What went well – I feel like most of our lesson went really well. I don’t know if there is much that I would change for next week. We were organized and energetic and our classroom management seemed to go well.
What didn’t work- I think we felt a little rushed near the end. We could maybe have focused a little bit more on efficient time management but we did manage to get everything we were hoping to accomplish in. I think it is worth noting how fast things go in real life compared to the way you lay them out in your lesson plan.
What I would change for next week- I think I would try and fit a little less in my lesson. I want to give myself time to have a little more closure at the end. I also underestimated how meticulous the students would be in creation of their emojis so for the next time I teach this lesson I would probably tell each student to aim for two or three instead of four or five emojis.