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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Day two.

Day two began without much nervousness or worry about anything catastrophic happening.  The teacher was back at school, and when I walked in she gave me the set of lesson plans back that she had commented on.  When she handed them to me she said that they were really good and that she sees a lot of already-teachers who don't write lesson plans as organized as mine were.  That was certainly flattering (and helped a little in convincing me that my lesson plans aren't horrible, and reassured me that many of the issues I have with them may in fact be due to my openness to continuous feedback from my professors and my desire for near-perfection in all things education-related).  I told her "thanks," but she kept repeating how much she liked them.  I don't know how to respond to that!  At my college, you don't get unconditional praise like that.  You get "good, but..." or "that's an improvement, here's how you could improve even more" or "this part is really good, this part could use some work."  I finally told her that I had received a lot of help from my professor in creating the lessons.  My professor responded back that I was just being modest.  That made me feel really good.  Like I was saying - I don't get flat-out affirmation that I am doing things well from the professors here.  It's a tough school - we are made to think that we can always work harder than we currently are.  In saying that I was being modest about the quality of my lesson plans, my professor was about as close to saying something good as I get here.  

When I started setting up, I realized that there wasn't enough wall space at the front of the room for all the things I wanted to put up.  (The students were beginning to trickle into the room at this point.  I'm not really sure where they had been.)  I did not know how to deal with the lack of wall space.  I was gathering all my stuff up, and I told my professor about my problem, and she came up with a solution that worked fine (not ideal, but fine).  As I was trying to put one of the sheets of butcher paper up on the wall using a stapler (there was a caulk board strip), I was kind of struggling, I guess.  I'm short, the caulk strip was a little above where I could comfortably reach.  The students were still slowly coming in at this time, and one of the girls came over and helped me by standing on some boxes and holding up the paper while I stapled.

We reviewed the stories we had read the previous day and discussed some things about them.  The students were all enthusiastic and willing to participate in the reviewing of the stories and the discussion.  I then introduced the next activity, demonstrated what they would be doing, and sent them back to their desks to work on the activity.

One mistake I made at this point (that I didn't realize until later) was that I paired together two students who hadn't been there the day before.  They hadn't been there when we were first reading/discussing the books.  (As one of them said to me, "I was throwing up all day yesterday!"  I told him I was glad he was feeling better.)  Luckily though, they had a pretty good idea of the stories from the discussion at the beginning of the lesson (the students had done a great job of remembering the important details I had wanted them to remember) and these two were able to complete the activity pretty well.

Another mistake I made was writing in red marker on the butcher paper - it wasn't readable from the back of the room.  That wasn't a major problem though.

One thing I should have done better during this activity was tell, show, and demonstrate to the students how to work with a partner.  I just took for granted that they would know how to do this, and apparently they don't really do partner work or gr0upwork like this much/ever in class.  They don't really know how to work together with a partner.  At one point I actually ended up saying, "You all are too quiet to be talking with your partner.  I want it to be louder in here."  I'm sure that's something they've never heard their teacher say to them - she's a big fan of work being done in quiet.  Many of the partners ended up using the partner work more as a type of "parallel" work (like Piaget's parallel play) instead of true interactive work with their partners.  The students were sitting next to one another, and I did finally get them to talk with their partners, but they were doing so more in the form of "this is what I wrote down.  Now you write it too," instead of "let's come up with ideas together."  In retrospect, I should have modeled to them better how one goes about working together with a partner.

As my professor and I were leaving the school, she asked me how I thought it went.  I told her that I thought the previous day had gone better, but she commented that she thought that day went well.  She said that from her perspective, most things looked pretty good.  So, that was definitely a boost.  We then ended up walking back to campus together because I am car-less, and she had carpooled to work that day so didn't have her car with her.  As we were walking we had our post-teaching debriefing.  The in-transit discussion was helpful in that I think professors' offices make me nervous, and I was able to respond to her questions and comments in a more natural way outside of the office.  The problem was, though, that I couldn't take notes while we were walking.  Since the suggestions she made to me did make sense, I was able to remember most of them and write them down later.

I wish I could remember more what happened that day, because I felt really confident afterward and really good about how things had gone, what the students had accomplished.  I guess that's a reminder for me that if I want to remember something, I have to write it down before the next day happens, or else I'll forget.


Blogger Ms. Sigh Ants said...

This is going to sound kind of cheesy but I like reading your self-reflections on your lessons. As a student in a similar place to you it reminds me that we all struggle and worry and feel happy about the same things. It is also neat to see how other people react to situations. Thanks for sharing this with all of us!

10:53 AM  
Blogger Not Quite Grown Up... said...

Ms. Sign Ants, I started writing you a response, but then it turned into an essay. I'm going to create a whole post in response to you comment.

6:20 PM  

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