Monday, December 13, 2010

first block insights

after just completeing our first practicum block, that being working alongside an associate teacher for four weeks, I have gained some valuable field experience. we'll start with 3.

1. when having to grade 3 classes of 25 students in data management, ensure the summative assessment does not take you over a weekend to mark!

personally, I would have preferred a more authentic assessment, one that allows students' progress over time to be continually contributing towards a final task. In this way, I would hope that skills acquired at the start of the unit would be revisited often and therefore not lost. But such a plan would have been perhaps a bit ambitious for the short term time constraint we faced. Instead I took the unit test route. I still learned quite a lot from as far as students' understanding of concepts, but more so when I ask to "explain" be prepared for half-page writers as well as three word writers. Instructions must be specific and I should have indicated the point value of each question. Or, as I discussed with a colleague today, taking a "levels" approach to math tests.

2. absolutely must have a well organized way to keep track of students who have been absent.

especially when teaching in a rotary setting, seeing nearly 80 students a day can cause one to lose track of absences. names on handouts that were missed, and right to an 'absent box' of some sort!

3. a more significant insight: the relationship you develop with the students is the vehicle for learning.

to two of the classes I was their math teacher for 50 minutes of the day, and that was probably as much math conversation they could bare. but to homeroom class 7-3 I was their sometimes language and geography teacher as well and a very familiar face. the connection I made with them, naturally from the increased time spent in their company, was evident with the 300 sad faces on my goodbye cards. to this group of students I was the "awesomiest - if that's even a word." They used words like patient, friendly and smart on their exit cards on my last day when I asked for feedback about my teaching. They wrote that math was fun! But I taught more or less the exact same lesson to two other classes, and yet the other two classes' feedback wasn't quite as overwhelming with compliments. Some commented on their increased engagement level, while others just said "you teach good" but some even said I should have gave less homework! The difference between the classes was the relationship I had been able to form with class 7-3. For me this goes to show that class 7-3 didn't care about the homework load because they were preoccupied, whether or not they were aware of it, with a level of respect for me. They were more engaged in the lessons and found the material even more amusing because they knew me and I knew them and we had a mutually understanding and balance of learning, fun and boundaries.

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