Being Taught to Teach

Week 1 at Mills
August 28, 2011, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Seminar Journals

I am finally back in school and being taught to teach.

Major emphasis has been put on building community; building community among our peers and cohorts, in our classrooms, in our school, etc.  And I think it is fantastic.  I don’t think I have ever learned so many name in such a short period of time.  So far I think I have all the multiple subject grad students’ names down (there are about 22 of us) and maybe half of the single subject people, I have a pretty good handle on the 16 names of the kids in my 4th/5th grade split despite only spending one day with them and I am working on all the professors/advisers/supervisors.

One thing I really enjoyed was being able to be present at the first day of school for my first student teaching placement.  I am in the Mills Children’s Center, in the 4th/5th grade split.  There are about even numbers as far as 4th and 5th graders and boys and girls go.   I spent the day prior to school starting helping my CT (collaborating teacher) get the room ready for the first day.  She is new to the school and because of that she is still getting a feel for thing herself.  I have a feeling we will really be learning alongside one another as the semester progresses.  The only concern I have after the first day (well really morning, since I wasn’t there all day), is the real difference that my CT and I saw as far as the children’s listening abilities.  I am not sure if it is due to my lack of experience or maybe even my being closer to the years of my first days of school, but what she and I saw differed greatly.  I thought the kids were doing a wonderful job, especially for all the challenging cases we have in the class, of listening to directions and doing as they were told.  Miss A on the other hand kept telling me that we would really have to work on listening right away.  Under the circumstance, it being the first day of school, having just gotten back from what I presume to be various unstructured summer vacations, seeing all their friends for the first time in months and meeting two brand new adults, I think the children did a great job.  I am hoping that after a little more interaction Miss A and I will get on the same wave length and/or I will be more comfortable sharing my difference of opinion with her.

After doing some of the reading for one of my courses I have come up with some goals for myself.  I have never led a lesson plan for a class before, I have always merely assisted, or worked with small groups of children.  Thus, of course one of my major goals is to get really comfortable and passionate about the material my student will be learning so that I can implement a well planned, thought provoking lesson plan.  I realize that being new to this I am going to make mistake and need help and might not get it right the first few times, but that is why I am here studying, to get good at creating interesting lesson plans to get kids excited to learn.  For my Introduction to the Profession of Teaching Diverse Learners Seminar we had to read a short article, “Why go to school?” by Steven Wolk.  Wolk introduced several ideas throughout the piece and one of them really stuck with me.  The idea of integrating several subjects into one lesson plan or project for children.  He discussed the idea of  inquiry-based projects, having children investigate and analyze a topic that really speaks to them as an individual.  I really like this idea of trying to combine several subjects (or at least starting with two), making an inquary-based assignment and giving the kids some autonomy in picking the topic so that they are actually doing a project or learning about something that sparks their interest.  Without this kind of thought provoking assignment Wolk is right, we are just handing out worksheets for the drones of tomorrow’s work force, rather than the type of people who will think critically and question what they do before doing it.

My goal is to create at least one cohesive assignment like this that will get the kids excited to do the work I ask of them, rather than just taking home another assignment to work on during the commercials of their favorite TV show. –Speaking of TV shows, Wolk touched on how much time children spend with media and how that time actually outweighs the time spent in school.  This made me think of books on tape (mp3) and whether that is something that has been looked at as a teaching aid.  I know that literacy is something that is an important part of all children’s learning, but if you can get children to listen to thought provoking, interesting books on tape wouldn’t that just add to their growth as a student.  The best scenario would be having a book on tape as well as having the child follow along in the book, but even if you could get them to replace a small fraction of their media time with a book on tape that they merely listen to I feel like it might be a step in the right direction to getting them excited about reading, after all it isn’t so long ago that families used to sit around the radio for stories and imagine the scenes rather than watch them on TV.