February 24th: Avoiding Autofocus

Here’s a link for this week’s lesson plan.

This week, we are all back from reading week—my field school called it February break—and I had the chance to teach English Language Arts 8. The class started with an entry slip; students have to write their name on the index cards I provided and answer the question posted on the board. I gave them few minutes to answer then officially start the class by asking three students to share one thing they did during the break. Fortunately, I easily got three volunteers who shared their activities. To be fair, I also shared one activity that I did during the break. Our topic is still connected to their past lessons—which is water; we looked at “The Water Traders’ Dream”.

My targets for this week are set and closure. I think that for the most part my set went well because they all participated. Unfortunately, I have to wrap up the class earlier than planned because of Science. My co-op teacher said that it was a good lesson and the students seemed very engaged. Also, she said that my timing was on track and I could have done a lot with my lesson if the schedule was a regular class—I only had 30 minutes because that time was previously their schedule for journal/dear. I read the poem with them before giving them a copy of the poem. I asked them to write the initials of 5 text connections beside the poem. My plan was to discuss the poem with them after this but I had to wrap up right away and asked them to answer their exit slips. Nonetheless, I think that it was an overall “okay” class. Since I still had the chance to briefly wrap up the class, I was able to give them their exit slips. There were two questions: 1st, if they were able to write a different ending for the poem, what story would they give and 2nd, I asked them to write a comment, question or suggestion about the class. The results were mostly positive which made me feel better.

If I get a chance to change this lesson, one of the things that I will change is materials preparation. To be more specific, I think that the major factor that affected my lesson was technical issues. I planned the lesson for 30 minutes and we could have finished it earlier than that if I had started the lesson on time. I will bring an extra pair of laptop just so that I can set-up better before the class starts. I can’t set up until after the announcements since my co-op teacher supervises on the lower grade level hallway. I asked the EA but the best way we can do was to start the projector. I didn’t need the Internet but I don’t have access to login to their computers. I could have just asked any student but the laptop last time wasn’t there anymore and I don’t know where to find one. Another solution that I should have done was find my co-op teacher outside and tell her my situation to solve it earlier. Also, I will plan a more interactive lesson. I’m not sure if it was because it’s Monday morning or the lesson or both, but this class was a bit more quiet than the last time were there. My partner, Ms. H., also noted this on my target sheet.

Compared to last week’s lesson, I think that last week’s Math class was more successful than this week. It felt like the whole lesson almost approached a flatline and I’m really disappointed–especially because I know that I could have done better. Everything seemed to go well, and then all of a sudden, the class just ends. The students really enjoyed using games to practice learning but I wasn’t sure what games should I use to discuss the poem. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

After having more time to reflect, there are few things I learned about teaching and also about myself. First, is that students are more engaged with interactive lessons and there are surely numerous creative ways to make a lesson effective. Second, time management is highly essential–not only in preparation but also during the presentation of the lesson. Third, I should stop overthinking. I took so much time debating if I should use the poem “The Water Traders’ Dream” because I wasn’t sure if they used it from earlier grade levels. I didn’t had any personal experience of elementary education in Saskatchewan–in other words, I didn’t studied elementary here–which caused me to over-search this fact while making a lesson plan. Fourth, I can’t believe that I feel more comfortable teaching Math after all. On the other hand, maybe I just have this feeling because my English lesson didn’t went as planned. Nevertheless, at least I learned that Math wasn’t that scary after all. Fifth, some lessons won’t work as how we planned it, but that’s okay. I realized that I was so disappointed that I wasn’t able to do the latter part of the development, which is one of the crucial part of my lesson, that I almost forgot to treasure the little success of the class. My self-disappointment almost forgot to treasure that there’s an additional mini accomplishment that I did later that day, Ms. H’s Math class finished early so our co-op teacher gave the class their exit slips; one group seemed to have a hard time solving for A of the equation.My co-op teacher was on the other side of the room, doing a homework check for 6.5. It’s too early for dismissal and I’m not doing anything anyway so I decided to visit this one table, closer to where I was sitting, and asked if they are having some trouble with the exit slip. They said that they were just a bit confused so I tried to explain how to solve for A, I taught them step by step, just like the way I understand simplifying equations. I admitted before that Math was not my most favourite subject but there I was, sharing my way. I had to repeat it a couple times, slowly and elaborately but they understand it at the end. It’s one of my proudest moment within the field. In the end, I have to remind myself that I have stop aiming for perfection and re-focus. I know my mistakes but I shouldn’t trapped myself with my mistakes. I have to move on, learn from them and re-focus on simple achievements that I’ve done.

Overall, this experience is like capturing an image with a digital camera. I struggled to lock onto the very close details of achievements because it is easier to hunt for the major mistakes that I made. With this in mind, I learned that I can find more achievements by avoiding autofocus and manually re-adjust the focus to little details instead.

-Aimee C.

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