Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lessons learned

So, I have bombed a few times, but every time I bomb, I learn something new. Here is a quick list of things I've found myself doing that other student teachers should try to avoid.

-Be aware of what students know. If you're only coming in a few days a week, and the teacher entrusts you with a lesson, don't assume to know what the students know and don't know. I tried to run an activity where students had to answer some questions. Turns out, they hadn't covered any of the material previously, so they were floundering, and I was so busy doing one on one help I didn't notice the entire class falling apart. So, figure out what they know. Formative assessment and unit context.
-Don't get distracted when you have the class's attention. I did that a few times today, where I used the attention-getting signal, then completely blew it by seeing a student raise their hand asking for help, and forgetting that, hey, I need to remind them to finish in 5 minutes.
-In math, if the students need to write out all their work, so do you. I was trying to do systems of equations in my head, and while I can do that to some extent, I still make mistakes. Better to write it out instead of making a fool of yourself.
-This is more geared towards middle schoolers, but applies to everyone: Don't assume they know what to do, because they don't. You need to be painfully explicit with directions. The really amazing thing is, they listen and obey most of the time.
-Learn when to ask for help, or when to separate students. Don't be afraid to ask students if they need to move. Often, they will say they do. If they aren't doing the work, move them. If they're making some noise, but the work is getting done, it's your call.

Also, after class, I visited a local online academy within my district. I've become acquainted with two of the staff there, and we enjoy talking. The bricks and mortar location is a strange mix between a server room and a classroom, and one of the teachers reminds me of an amalgamation of an IT guy and a teacher. The more I learn about these types of schools, the more I want to get hired in one. The idea of using web based education to create that hard focus on content matter is amazing, plus the idea of cutting out the classroom management and simply focus on curriculum design and personal motivation, that really appeals to me. With that in mind, I've decided to make that one of my ideal jobs, and steer towards district placements as much as possible. On the bright side, the connections I made at the online academy seemed very happy to help, as they really like to see someone who is there because they are passionate about that type of learning, not just because they got RIF'd. They also gave me some really good suggestions on how to enhance my resume, which I will probably pursue over student teaching if there's time, and if not, over summer.

Also, I'm meeting with some social justice educators about internet literacy tomorrow. I've been holding off my social justice post for a while, but once I've had that conversation, I'll probably have a cool post ready.


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