This week I am really feeling the crunch. April has begun and there’s so much I need to do before May! My thesis is due, Student Teaching ends shortly afterwards, I graduate from college…I’m really stressed out about everything! On top of that, Student Teaching will gradually become more challenging as time progresses as I’ll be taking on more and more responsibilities. I really see why they suggest not participating in anything else during Student Teaching; it’s a full-time job!
The first week at Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School, I did not teach any classes. My second week, I taught one grade level. My third week, I taught two grade levels. Now that it’s my fourth week, I am teaching three of the six grade levels, so I am completely in charge of half of the classes. I’m not sure if I prefer this gradual schedule more than the schedule I had at Canyon High School where I was completely in charge of absolutely everything for two weeks, and not in charge of anything the remaining five weeks. I think I may have preferred the other schedule more as I was thrown into the job rather than given a tiny piece at a time.
Today was Monday, so again, I enjoyed observing the new lessons my teacher had planned for the classes. It was a bit difficult to teach, though, as I wasn’t completely sure of what all the lessons entailed. I hadn’t seen them performed, hadn’t read the lesson plans until I received a hard copy this morning, and I didn’t know if my teacher had examples, Powerpoints, etc. I tried my best and went with what I had to prepare the lessons. I think that it went pretty well, but I do have some suggestions to improve later on.
One thing that was a bit confusing was when I asked my teacher if she had her handouts with pictures of dinosaurs on them to give to the students to aid with their dinosaur drawings. She responded that she did and pulled out a poster with a picture of fighting dinosaurs on it. I thought that she had mentioned she had worksheets with tiny pictures of dinosaurs on them, so if we didn’t have those, I decided to improvise. My teacher has a how-to draw dinosaurs book, that I decided to use. Since there’s only one book and students wouldn’t be able to all use the book at the same time, I decided to draw the illustrations from the book on the white board, large enough so that the class would be able to see them. I drew five pictures, some full-body images and some headshots, and included a variety of dinosaurs. I was quite pleased with my drawings and thought that they would help the students in drawing their own dinosaurs. After I had completed my drawings, my teacher found the dinosaur handouts she had been talking about.
Woops! Well, at least we had even more references now.
I did allow the class to take turns using the drawing book if they wanted any of the images that I didn’t put on the board, but that turned out to be a mistake. So many students wanted the book and because only one student could have the book at a time, it caused problems. Tomorrow, I’m not going to allow anyone to use the book and will simply tell them that a majority of the drawings from the book are on the wall.
I was also quite nervous today as my university supervisor was coming to observe me. Again, today was a Monday, the “testing” day, in which I hadn’t done the lesson yet and wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I was a bit nervous about that fact, as well as the fact that I feel I simply am not as successful as I am with higher grade levels. After my instruction, my supervisor noted that fact, saying that I was still adjusting to this level and she had a list of suggestions for me.
I need to praise the students who behave more and get on to the students who misbehave less in order to promote good behavior. This can be a little challenging without knowing students’ names, but I know that it can be done. I also need to improve my demonstrations and instruction by showing bad examples of what student’s shouldn’t do with their artworks, and by visualizing the planning process better, such as drawing a shape on my paper with my finger before drawing it in pencil. I also need to pay attention to anything that may be distracting a student and remove it from the area. I should pay attention to the room, in general, more than I have been, by checking the room when I make rounds, looking up more from talking with students, and listening to the overall noise level to make sure that students aren’t getting too loud. I know that I have strong focus and can sometimes go a little tunnel vision, tuning out noises and my surroundings easily. I can also help my students work more efficiently if I set a daily objective and tell the students how much time they have remaining. My supervisor agreed that managing student behavior is my largest weakness and the spot I need to most improve on. It was a little disheartening to go from observations at the high school level with barely any suggestions of things to do differently, to having a full list of things I need to change today. I’m hoping that I can focus on these aspects and improve upon them over the next few weeks.