Today continued the Talent Show practice in which all of the students are either practicing for the Talent Show or partaking in a gym day during their art classes, but it was actually kind of an eventful day! I did actually get to teach one art class today because my university supervisor was coming to observe me! While all of the students still had their gym day, my cooperating teacher had to pull one class of 1st Grade students to come to the art room for an art lesson. Because this class was the only 1st Grade class to partake in this lesson, I wanted to give them a new one-day lesson that would not throw the class off-track from all of the other classes. Though they started their dinosaur drawings last week, they won’t be finishing them until all the 1st Grade classes work on them next week.
I was a little nervous for my observation because I created a lesson plan for the 1st Grade students that I thought might be a bit too challenging for them. I wanted to focus on warm and cool colors and decided to have the students illustrate a starscape in mostly warm or cool colors. I thought that this would allow them to experiment with color and blending in a way that wouldn’t focus heavily on content matter as the colors can be randomly placed in the background. I was also a little unsure on the time-frame. I was worried that the students would finish too quickly or wouldn’t finish before the end of class. I also have not been performing as well at the elementary level as I did at the middle and high school level, so I was just nervous altogether!
The observation seemed to go well for the most part, though. I loved teaching the students as I was interested in the lesson plan and they seemed to be interested in it as well. They seemed pretty excited for it and were all rambunctious with their questions and curiosity. I was student-centered with my instruction and kept the lecture interactive, asking the students questions and for their opinions. I also gave a demonstration in which I asked for the students’ input to help me create a composition.
After the class, I spoke with my university supervisor and cooperating teacher and received feedback on my performance. My university supervisor noted that I am still stronger at the secondary level and have much to improve on at the elementary level. She said that one of my biggest weaknesses is noticing distractions that students find, whether it be something in the classroom or another student’s disruptive behavior, and taking care of the problem. She mentioned that there was a student distracting another during my instruction that I failed to correct. I’ll need to keep a better eye out for distractions when I teach. She mentioned that I can get a little too focused and absorbed in the actual lecture that I tend to go a little blind. She mentioned that my instruction could have been a little stronger with more visual aids, more instruction on how to use varying pressure with the materials to create different marks, and telling students where to put the scrap paper from when they tore the wrappings from their oil pastels. Overall, she said that my instruction is always on-point, but my classroom management skills need improvement, especially with younger students.
I’ve known this whole time that classroom management is my weakness. Am I not improving, or is my improvement just progressing slowly? How can I better my skills? Unlike instruction, it’s not something that you can really practice. I suppose I’ll need to do more research on classroom management and just focus on improving that aspect.
Unfortunately, after my supervisor observation, it was back to the gym for my cooperating teacher and me.
I mentioned that today was an eventful day and it wasn’t just because of my observation.
First off, as my cooperating teacher and I entered the gym, we found the music teacher looking flustered. “I don’t know where the gym teacher is,” she told us. “It looks like it’s just one of those days…” I had mentioned in a previous reflection that the music teacher made a remark similar to this, so it seems like the gym teacher may miss a lot of days with little to no reason. This can cause problems for the other teachers because she either doesn’t call into the school or calls to late so that a substitute teacher is not arranged. “I’m not going to be able to practice for the Talent Show,” the music teacher concluded, realizing that she would need to help us manage the gym classes. “I’m not going to be able to practice with 2nd Grade at all anymore because we have morning assembly during their class tomorrow. This is unfortunate.”
The 2nd Grade students began to enter the gym and the music teacher put on the gym headset and began managing the class.
The morning gets even more exciting, though.
This morning, while the 2nd Grade students, our first class of the day, were running their laps outside, my cooperating teacher and I suddenly heard a lot of screaming and laughing coming from the students across the other side of the track from where we were standing. While the students were on their second or third lap out of eight, a dog had appeared on the track from the neighborhood across the street. The students were laughing and screaming as they were chasing and playing with the dog. It was a happy and fun moment, but we had to cut it short. There’s no telling if the dog was infected or dangerous or something. The students chased the dog around the track to where the music teacher was monitoring and she instantly took charge. I noticed that all of the students began running into the gym and figured that she was sending everyone in.
After all of the students were in the gym, the music teacher had them all sit down on the floor, be quiet, and receive a lecture. She was incredibly disappointed in their behavior and response to the dog. She explained that the dog could be dangerous or harmful or sick and that children should know not to play with dogs they don’t know. “What do you do when you see a dog you don’t know?” she asked. “You come find an adult so that they can figure out what to do. You don’t run and chase and play with the dog.” She had the students sit in silence while we called the office to figure out how to get rid of the dog. After calling, the students were allowed to start playing with the gym stations.
It kind of felt like a zombie attack or something as all of the students and teachers were “trapped” inside the gym. Occasionally, we would glance out the window and find the dog still sitting right outside the door. Every now and then, we’d look outside, not find the dog, start sending kids out, and then the dog would come running around the corner and we’d have to send everyone back inside. Finally, near the end of the period, I glanced outside and didn’t see the dog. We then heard on the walkie-talkie that the dog had been placed in the Pre-K playground, a playground flanking the other side of the gym that was fenced in. While this did remove the dog from the gym’s track area, the dog was now inside the middle “courtyard” area of the school where several classes walk through during passing periods. Because of this, the next class began with 5th grade students running in screaming, “There’s a dog outside!” It took us several minutes to pry the students from the gym’s doors and to their spots so that we could begin class.
Thankfully, the gym teacher showed up around the time the second class was starting. “Did you guys know there’s a dog outside?” she said. Thankfully, her presence allowed the music teacher to conduct Talent Show practicing as planned, but she did miss out on that time with the 2nd Grade students.
Later, during our lunch break, my cooperating teacher told me that it’s kind of common for the gym teacher to arrive late to school or just not come for little to no reason. She said that the gym teacher will sometimes park in the back of the school or enter through a back door to not be seen by administrators and that she hasn’t gotten into trouble as far as she knows. My cooperating teacher explained that it puts her in a difficult position because she doesn’t want to damage their relationship by reporting her since they have to work together every Friday. “This is just what it’s like in the Work World,” she explained. “It wasn’t this bad at my previous schools.”
The rest of the day was the same gym day that we’ve been having all week and will have again tomorrow. My cooperating teacher and I lesson planned during our lunch break and she decided that she’ll be calling for a substitute tomorrow and taking her “Student Teacher Free Day” on Friday, so she wanted to have next week’s plans ready to go. She also suggested that I take full control of the classes next week, so that’s going to be interesting. I’m a little nervous about taking over, especially with my thesis deadline coming up! I’m so stressed out about finishing everything in time!
Let’s hope I make it through this semester.