Week 1: Intro to Classroom

It’s hard to believe we’re already two weeks into our second semester and have the opportunity to spend two full days in an elementary classroom. Unlike last semester where we were limited to time and opportunities to participate this year we will be responsible for lesson planning and administration, sitting in on meetings and conference nights, conducting a case study on a student and more time to learn from the teachers actions and performance.

This week I finished the first two days and one of the first thought I had was that my comfort level was significantly higher then my first experience observing at the school. Of course I had time to develop a relationship with my coordinating teacher who I gratefully refer to as my mentor but I am also armed with more knowledge and practice. The more I observe and actively participate in the classroom in addition to studying and research the more confident I feel in my teaching skills and abilities. Bottom line, these opportunities are so beneficial to my learning and are effectively molding and preparing me for my full time internship this fall.

Upon arrival I realized there is much to be done before the morning bell rings. My coordinating teacher is very prepared but random and unexpected tasks seem to pop up. On the first day there was a new student and on the second day the students had to take a countywide reading comprehension test so we were prepping the room and students. The phrase managed chaos comes to mind.

The classroom I am in has two classes (AM and PM). I was able to jump right in with the AM class because we were able to work together during my observations last semester. After walking around and helping out with bell work we moved into guided reading. I sat in with a small group and the reading coach. The students were initiating book clubs so I was able to witness the start of something new. The reading coach reviewed reading techniques referred to as reciprocal teaching (predicting, questions, clarification) and had them write out notes to create a folder. These would be used to help guide students through the readings as well as provide them with talking points during their book discussions. For the next rotation, I was trusted to lead my own group. I got to take the group to the reading coaches room where I helped them pick a book for their book club. It was nice getting to explore the resources the school has for the students and teachers and the kids appreciated the “field trip”. Unfortunately, I did not get to finish the entire preparation before it was time for the students to go to specials but I did feel the instruction and participation was thorough.

When the PM class came in I had to formerly introduce myself and advised them that they could call me Ms. S. After introductions my coordinating teacher used my last name to do a quick “lesson” on how complicated the English language can be. She wrote school and Scholl on the board and had them sound out the differences. She then ended the conversation advising the students to call me by my full and formal last name. I thought her approach was such a great way to teach students about the difficulties of language and to help them learn how to pronounce my name and recognize me as a professional who should be identified formally and respectfully. I imagine I will introduce myself in the same way she did as I get my own classroom and students.

Another moment that I would have liked to improve on took place when I responded to a student with “because I said so”. I always hated that phrase because while it may suggest that I have power in the classroom it lacks explicit reasoning and therefore seems ineffective to me. However, it slipped out of my mouth and left me thinking about what I could have said. One idea I came up with is “because these are the rules we have established”. I’ll still think of other things but I really do not want to be a teacher who runs her classroom like a dictator.

We have a lot ahead of us this semester and I know I’ll be learning so much! I look forward to sharing my trial experiences and thoughts as I continue down the road to becoming a successful and effective teacher.

Until next week,