February 7th: Back in School

Last Monday, February 2nd, I had the chance to go to my field placement for the first time. It’s been a while since I last visited an elementary school. My partner and I were assigned on a grade 7/8 classroom but I will consider it as more of a grade 8 class.

The bell didn’t ring until 9am and this gives me the idea that we can use that spare 30 minutes (since we are in school by 8:30am) as our prep-time in the future. I consider the school to have a friendly atmosphere because we were welcomed with smiles and greetings as we enter the school and as we try to figure out the location of our co-op teacher. We found few students patiently sitting on the floor beside the room as they wait for the bell. They asked if we will be their interns and my partner answered “maybe” with a smile since we were not yet sure if we are on the right room—luckily, we were. I’m glad that our co-op teacher was as excited as we are and welcomed us warmly—she also has an E.A.We left our coats and purses on the room then our co-op teacher gave us a brief tour around the school. We got back in class before the bell rings but our co-op teacher supervises the hallway for younger grades so we came with her to have the experience. This also gave us the time to have more conversation with our co-op teacher and asked her information about the class.

The bell rang few minutes before we got back to the room but everyone was already busy doing their journals—which was pre-posted on the whiteboard on the right. However, some of the students need a little reminder to re-focus. Nonetheless, they know what to do. Our co-op teacher borrowed few minutes from the students’ journal/dear time and gave us a brief introduction. We also provided our brief self-introduction and told them the purpose of our presence to their class. Then, the students resumed to their normal schedule. I think this is a moment when we could have done something better. My partner and I planned to ask the students to introduce themselves as well but we forgot to inform that to our co-op teacher. I guess I assumed that she’ll give us more time when she mentioned on the e-mail that she will give us few minutes to introduce ourselves. Lesson: communication is really really important to clarify with our co-op teacher; also, never assume—a lesson that I learned from last semester but I did again.

After the 30 minutes of journal/dear was their Science. Fun fact: Mr. Science always brings his cart which makes noise along the hallway and this provides a cue to the students to stop reading and take out their science notebooks. We just sat at the back and observed how Mr. Science taught. I’m pretty impressed by his teaching skills and classroom management. He used a variety of differentiation which engaged students; I’m planning to adapt them to my lessons. The class was followed by an indoor recess that day.

Math commenced after the break. Our co-op teacher began writing on the board while we remained on the back and observe. This is when the other grade 7/8 class from next door merged with our class. Since there were no specific seating plan, I noticed that our room’s 7/8 class mostly got together on the central front of the class while the rest took the remaining spots. Some students needed to grab their chairs from the other classroom since there were not enough chairs—plus we took two that day. The class had their warm up then had an exam-like setting that day so they mostly worked on their textbooks. I liked how our co-op teacher prepared something for those students who finished their work early. Our co-op teacher mentioned that their 7/8s are really diverse in a way that a handful of students finish early while others tend to take the whole time to finish the assigned work. If I could have few extra tables in the room, I would set up an interactive activity for those who finished early but I highly believe that I can’t so I have to adapt to resources that I have. I just need to alter some thought to adapt this plan on a more applicable concept—I’m just not sure yet how. Soon, it was time for lunch break, we said our goodbyes to our co-op teacher, and then left the school. It was agreed earlier that day that we will each teach any topic next week: one will use the journal/dear time to teach English while the other will teach Math. Fun fact: I think it becomes a common thought for English majors that Math is not their most favourite subject. My partner and I were both English majors and this notion applies to us. I can say that Math is my least favourite subject, although I got an award from it when I was on grade 11. Nonetheless, I took the challenge and decided to teach Math next week.

Overall, there are several things that I learned about myself inside the classroom. First, is that I love to be there. On the other side, I somehow got into a self-reflection that I prefer being in a Kindergarten classroom just because there are more things and more interactions that I can do there. However, what I had from Monday was just an experience and I know there are more to come so it is too early to put a period on that reflection. Second fact that I noticed about myself was I once again desired to be in my comfort zone. I always want everything to be organized. I want to change this and that but what I realized is that while we sat there at the back, my mind contantly count for students’ reaction to the lectures. I’ve been thinking of what I can do for them and how can they adapt to my teaching skills—which are most likely very different from how they’ve been learning for the past few months; some students find it hard to adapt to changes and odd transitions.  I will be honest to say that I left the class more scared than when I got there but I want to take that as a challenge to improve myself, a tip that it is better to be overprepared than under, that I have to come up with a plan that will engage the students because many of them have attention issues. I’ve been thinking of ways so that the right half of the room can still see the projector from where they sit, so that they’ll find the class more interesting by being engaged to the topic; I’ve been thinking of  interesting brief introduction, an interactive Math activity, and the topic that I need to present.

My goal for next week includes introduction and handling class part A from the goals I posted on my last blog. I decided to include introduction because the latter grade 7/8 students were mostly curious about us but were left jeopardized since we didn’t re-introduce ourselves to them. Handling Students’ Attention Part A was about memorizing students’ name and making eye contacts. I think that this will be essential to get the attention of 40 students. I asked our co-op teacher for a copy of the class’ list, make name tents, and also make a seating plan for them since this will help me better to quickly memorize the names within the class. Fortunately, she said yes—I just don’t have the class list yet.

I still have lots on my mind but it is half past three in the morning and it’s hard to continue typing all the ideas after going home from work by one in the morning when my day started early on Friday to attend a career development conference. I’ll probably post a more detailed plan for my next Monday’s lesson and another one as a reflection of the mentioned conference. This is everything for now.

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