A Spongelike Experience

Busy Class

March 30th was my last day on my field class and I had the full hour to teach my students. Last class was an art class and I witnessed how focused they got into their activities. With this in mind, I wanted our very last class to be an art class. However, I didn’t want it to be just another art class; I want them to create something from their own identity. To make it clearer, the outcome for the day was CP8.11—which is expressing student perspective on social issues—and I think that identity, although debatable, is a social issue. Why? Nowadays, it is easy to be lost while creating your own identity. The society is imposing various models and norms to follow while at the same time, tell you to simply be who you are. With this activity, I asked my students to express their perspective about themselves and they can openly share it to the class. I gave showed them various examples, including my artwork, before the activity begins. The class was really focused with their activity and I am walking around the room to check their progress so I ended up having great classroom management for the day. At the end of the class, I had lots of volunteers who shared their artworks and the meaning behind them. I close the lesson with exit slips and gave them chocolate eggs as treats and thanks for being a good class. I learned from previous lessons that this class loves chocolates more than I do and this last class was a fulfillment of my previous promise that I will bring more chocolates in the future. After the lunch bell rang, I had a couple of students who came up and thanked me—not just for the chocolates but also—for teaching them for eight weeks. In addition, their exit slips have heart-warming little messages of gratefulness and wishes for me to have luck in university.

What to change? The class was overall successful in many ways and there are minimal changes I will do if I will use this again next time. First, I will also have regular coloured popsicles. Some of them have issues about colour blending since I only have red, yellow, green, and blue popsicles—of course, the blue pen ends up being green on yellow popsicle. I will also bring some fine tip back pens for those students who loves being specific with details—like me. I brought some highlighters, markers, coloured fine tip pens and other drawing markers but I totally forgot to take note of black markers. Another simple object that I will bring is a circle stencil. I have a couple of students who had a hard time looking for perfect-sized circles for wheels and eyes but I don’t have any coins with me and all that we found were either too small or way too big. Good thing my co-op teacher had a quarter, which was perfect for Sponge Bob’s eyes. In the end, we ended up being resourceful and everything turned out well.

This week was internally emotional for me. I’m proud to say that I know all of my students’ names, I interacted with all of them, and we developed comfort with each other. I felt mutual respect and I recognized all their improvements. It’s amazing to see students’ growth within eight weeks. However, the best part of my last class in class was reading the response of their second part of exit slip. I asked them which class, of all the class that we had, was their most favourite and why. I also asked them to write any message for me—if they have any. I went home and read them before going back to school for my Shakespeare class. I’m really grateful that this class is comfortable to share their life with me and makes me feel that I have more connection with them than just being another Monday intern. All the messages they wrote were heart-warming and another proof why I love being a teacher. Those letters transforms into another brick that solidifies my decision to continue aspiring to become a teacher. Once again, it will take few semesters before I can get back to classrooms and teach but during those times when I’m not out on the field, I’ll study hard and prepare myself to become a better teacher…to become a better person than I am at the moment. Thanks for reading my last field blog.

-Aimee C.

Week 7 Reflection: Details Matters

Floral Beadwork

I had the chance to come back to the class on Wednesday of Week 6 to fill my missed class when I was sick. I asked the students to create their patterns last class and finish them by today, Wednesday, March 25th, 2015. I arrived in school later than I planned and organized my materials as soon as I can. I start the class by asking them to put their patterns on their table. I shared two weaving techniques that we can use for their beadworks then preceded with material collection and the activity. My co-op teacher gave us the time until the end of school hours to work on beading. The students were really engaged with the activity and some of them even decided to stay in for recess just to work on their beadwork. Overall, my co-op teacher gave positive comments about the lesson.

What will I change? I think that I have a number of changes to make with this class if I will teach it again in the future. First, I want to have a better instruction for the samples of weaving technique. I will advise to use a knitting thread and bigger beads to show each weaving technique. In that case, the students will have a realistic visual of how to stich their beads. Second, I will have a better detailed outline and instruction for options of their beadwork—students may choose to do their beadwork with or without felt. I will also provide printed copies for them. Lastly, I will prepare a better close for the topic.

This week, I learned how simple details could help a lot with classroom management. I also learned how much respect and value my students are giving me and I feel really grateful that I was assigned to the class. Each week is a proof of my passion with teaching and at the same time, learning with them. You know those emotional moments when you realize you’re finally on the right path of your life? This is one of those moments, when I start to think deeply and realize I am right where I wanted to be and I’m ready to face more challenges to love this path even more. This is one of my shortest reflection but I hope you enjoyed reading it.

-Aimee C.

Week 6: Stitching Beads and Class Attachments

Here’s the link to this week’s lesson plan: Beadwork

Beading pattern

Yesterday is the 6th week of my field. I only have 30 minutes of the class but I think that it went well. I am able to have a bit of prep before the class starts to photocopy some graphing paper and cut them into strips. The class was wrapping up with their French project when I started the laptop so I can pull up my Prezi presentation—which I always use as a class guide. The laptop takes longer to boot up than usual so I use the time to distribute my handouts while it loads. As a warm-up, I gave them 4 minutes to talk within their group to share one activity that they enjoy doing and what influenced them to do so. I went around the class although this was just a warm-up. I gave a minute warning and followed it up with a 5-second warning raising my hands for signals. This is the first time that I tried it and it surprisingly was effective. I asked three volunteers to share theirs then I shared mine. Then, I introduced the topic and guide them continuously with their handouts. Few weeks ago, I never thought that they’ll need handouts because they’re already grades 7/8 and they pay attention. However, I think that it’s more effective when they have guide notes to fill up during the class. I also used several examples to guide them with their activity. Another “yey” moment is that I was able to teach some cultural content of First Nations people by teaching beadwork today. I always felt that I don’t have enough knowledge to properly teach and/or include treaty ed with my lessons but I tried it today and it worked out well.

One thing that I struggled with the lesson though is related with my slides. I learned from last lab/seminar about the 6-by-6 policies of presentations and I tried hard to keep my slides minimal. However, I felt somehow lost when I look at my presentation slides because of this. I felt less organized and I felt like I’m missing some important information that I wanted to say. With this in mind, I felt that I shouldn’t have used the 6-by-6 yet, especially that I’m not confident with it yet. On the other side, I think that a better solution for this is to put it on my lesson plan; everything listed—after all, the kids are writing with my guidance. Another thing that I wanted to change if I had the chance to reteach this lesson will be bringing a pre-made sample of my own designs and/or patterns so that they have an idea how it will look like. I will also bring a finished product from that design—so I think this is what I’ll do for Wednesday’s class.

Overall, the lesson went really well, including all the timing and flow of all the parts of the class. The students were continuously engaged and they look forward for the next part of our activity. I will be back on Wednesday afternoon to continue the beading part with them to fill the one lesson that I missed when I was sick. I learned few facts about myself this week. First, I’m confident to teach any lesson. This was my first Arts Ed. Class and it went well, just like my Math and English lessons. Second, I can feel how much I developed to be attached with my students. I’ll only have two more classes with them then we’re done and I know that I will miss teaching them every Monday morning. I think that they’ll probably miss us too because they learned to be confident and comfortable whenever my partner and I are in the class. We developed a good exchange of respect from both sides and I think that this is crucial part of being a teacher. I guess my overall realization today is always about trying something new and not being restricted by the fear of failing it. We learn from our mistakes and first trials aren’t always end up badly. It has only been few weeks but I learned a lot about myself already; one of them is a continuous reconfirmation of how much I wanted to be a teacher. With all these in mind, I wonder if there are times when aspiring teachers have ambivalent moments about teaching? Why do they feel that way and how did they deal with it? Thanks for reading my blog today.

-Aimee C.

Week 5: Writing Riddles

It was about 11:34 last Friday when I started typing my reflection for Week 5’s lesson. However, Taking turns at relay and supervising my team while trying to type everything in my head, all at the same time didn’t quite work. This year I encouraged my team to be part of Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, which took place at Gym 3 of the University of Regina from 7pm to 7am. Weeks before that has been fun and stressful at the same time. I had all of my classes’ dues of paper-works while I try to organize several fundraising events for the relay, as well as setting up meetings for my UR Filipino Students’ Society’s election. In the end, everything turned out well so I think that all those hardships are worth it.

Last week, I had the chance to teach a full hour of class and I taught them about writing riddles. My original plan was to make a simulation of water filtration with them. However, my experiment didn’t worked [at all] when I tried it at home, so I have to make some change of plans. I didn’t finish my lesson plan, Prezi presentation, and handouts until the morning. I had to miss the first hour of the field to smoothen my lesson for the day; after all, it was just French class and we don’t get to do anything during that time. I chose riddles because I had a previous class request about the topic.

I didn’t have any warm-up for them that day but the students were engaged from the beginning. I started with several definitions of riddles then gave them few minutes to take down some notes that will help them remember what riddles are. I followed this with identification and explanation of the two types of riddles. I shared some examples of riddles and let them guessed the answer then debrief the relationship of the answer to the riddles. Since we are writing riddles, I gave them tips on how to create their own—this is also in their handouts so that the time they’ll use for copying notes will be used to start writing their riddles. I asked them to write their own riddles and allowed them to do as much as they can. I have a couple of small victories to share. I enjoy walking around the room and checking each table’s progress with the activity. I helped a struggling student to start writing his own riddle and he was happy about its result. There’s also this moment when I checked on a student and he already finished two of his riddles. I guessed his riddles then helped him with spelling of words. I know these are simple moments but I enjoy helping and guiding students with their work.

Students had a lot of fun writing their own riddles and we used all the time, sharing and trying to answer their riddles with each other. Most of them wrote more than one riddle and I think that helped with the flow of the class. Also, the students did a great class management. They were raising their hands to answer the riddles so that they can share their riddles too. However, students from the same table can’t answer the riddle and we also take turns in which table in the area of the class will be picked so everyone can participate.

My Week 5’s struggle is about my presentation. I usually download my presentation to avoid slow Internet connection but something happened so I decided not to bring my USB. Of course, the connection was slow that day—just when I needed it the most. I began organizing the laptop as soon as their bell for recess rang but the laptop didn’t start until after 20 minutes so I have to take five minutes of my class time to deal with the computer. The class enjoys the visual presentations and it also acts as my guide so I can’t remove the presentation part from my lessons. I guess I just have to accept that things happen sometimes.

My target for Week 5 was non-verbal communication. I learned how much I unconsciously communicate with my students—on a positive side though. Facial expressions, movements, gestures, mannerisms, eye contacts and pauses are all non-verbal yet effective communications. Of all these, I think that movement—I always walk around throughout the class—is the only conscious communication that I intentionally do to communicate with the class. The rest, they are all actions I unconsciously do and thankfully they send positive communication that help students to have a better understanding of the lesson. With this in mind, I have to be more conscious with all the actions that I’m doing because they’re sending unconscious communication with my students. How about you? What non-verbal communications do you [un]intentionally send to your students? Are they effective and why? Thanks for reading my blog today.

-Aimee C.

Week 4: Tricks and Limericks

Tricks and Limericks

This is the fourth week of our field but I missed teaching last week’s field—because I have flu and I don’t want them to catch it—so this is technically my third week. I wanted to teach chromatography and anything in Art Education or Science but I was informed that the class schedule changed so I’m not sure when and what to teach; all I know is that my partner will teach an outdoor PhysEd class. As a result, I decided to plan a 30-minute English lesson instead. Since St. Patrick’s Day is approaching quickly, I created a lesson about writing limericks—which is according to legends, limericks came from Ireland and that’s why we often hear them around the season of St. Patrick’s Day.

From previous field observations, I recognized how my grade 7/8s are easily distracted by anything—they didn’t hear the instruction from the front, a seatmate starting a chat, gadgets, etc. Hence, I set my focus this week in giving clear directions. While setting up, I asked them to grab some golden chocolate coins; no maximum but they have to pick at least one coin. I started the brief lesson after setting up my visuals. I taught what limericks are and use an example. Then, I asked two volunteers to distribute my handouts and waited until everyone has one before giving further instructions. I explained the purpose of each before they started writing their own limericks. I gave them 10 minutes, reminded them in 5 minutes and gave them additional two minutes to finish their writing. I walked a lot around the class this week to check each table about their writing. I also helped individuals with some ideas on how to write their own poems. At the end of the class, we wrap up with the usual write a comment, suggestion, or question about today’s class but not on index card this week.

Overall, I think that the class went well. I had some students who volunteered to share their written poems and I was able to wrap up the class properly. To add a little twist, I asked them to write how many golden chocolate coins they had and write same number of facts about them. They really enjoyed this trick and it was reflected on their exit slips. In addition, they gave me some suggestions on what they wanted to learn next week so I’ll consider those. My timing was also better this week than last week. I guess the clock helped a lot—last week it was broken and I kept forgetting that it was.

Nevertheless, I don’t think that my lesson was perfect. I have some notes that the golden coins somehow distracted them at the beginning but that sort of was the plan while I was setting up. However, I would give more elaborate instruction if I will use this next time—please don’t play with your coins yet and yes, you can keep your chocolates and eat them as soon as recess starts. Due to time management, I think that I rushed a little when I was explaining the sample of the limericks. I received questions about the pattern AABBA and I think that they would understand it better if I gave a more explicit and detailed explanation about it. I would also prepare further instruction and activity for those who finished earlier than the rest of the class. I am planning to have a simulation about water filtration for next week and I’ll surely use what I learned this week while I am working on my lesson plan for next week.

February 24th: Management in Progress

For this week, I decided to reflect on Option A—which is reading blog posts about classroom rules and Classroom Dojo. I mostly relate to the first blog, which is about classroom rules, because I used to tell myself that respect is too vague that it can cover everything. In fact, it was on the first teaching philosophy that created when I was on my first year in Education. However, after reading the blog post, I realized that its point was more realistic. Many people will break the rules because there are no fine lines of what are acceptable and not, after all, they are not concrete rules but rather just values. Now, I know that it is important to really set clear and specific rules that the class has to follow. I remember last class that we discussed this in classroom management. I thought the number 1 chart was the perfect classroom management. Instead, they are preventative rules.

The other blog post about Classroom Dojo is also interesting. The application has a good purpose and cute avatars. On the other side, I think that higher-grade levels, especially secondary classes, will not appreciate this as much as lower-grade level classes. Another downfall of this application is the possibility that it can also be a classroom distraction instead. Students are unique and they can perceive this differently. It may help some students but it can also distract them. Lastly, I am disappointed that the blog also mentioned about shaming students because I believe that teachers should not humiliate their students in any way, shape, or form.

After these blog posts, for some reason, my mind decided to associate classroom management with formal rules. I totally forgot that classroom management can be more flexible than that. I will admit that my classroom management is still developing. I am open for changes but there are some things that are hard for me to change—like accepting the use of humiliation as classroom management.


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.