Monday, November 1, 2010

Practicum Stories - small life changing moments ...

First Story
I was observing in a computer class.  My SA teacher asked me to help one boy who was new to the  school.   I sat down beside him and discovered that he was quite behind in his assignment.   Even though I was not familiar with his assignment,  I went with him to look for the answer.    A few days later I saw that boy in the hallway,  and he smiled and waved to me.   That was a moment for me.  I knew that I had made a difference, however small, in the life of that particular student.    

Second Story
After hours of preparation and rehearsing and thinking through my lesson,  the time had finally arrived.  It was time for me to do my first math class.

I started with my activity to introduce the topic, and continued according to a lesson plan that I was quite excited about.    After class,  my SA came over to debrief with me.    We had done some microteaching at UBC,  studied some topics in class management,  did case studies,  and knew about Blooms Taxonomy and debated topics in social justice.    However,  at that moment,  none of the head knowledge could have prepared me for what I was about to hear from my SA.    The first sentence was:   "To be brutally honest with you,  if this is your class next semester,  then it would be a disaster."       She continued to tell me what she observed about my classroom management.    

It was the last block of the day.   I felt drained and overwhelmed from physical exhaustion and mixed-emotions.   I went to my car,  drove to a side street,  and had a good cry.     In the ensuing hours and days,  I continued to replay in my head the words she said to me,   pondered on what actually happened in the classroom,  and how I should respond.   I asked myself many questions.    I needed time to reflect, and remind myself why I chose this teaching path.    I learnt more than a few things:      

1.   Classroom management is easier said than done - it is a skill acquired by actually being in the classroom. 
2.   I must be prepared for negative feedback,  and know how to put that into perspective.
3.   I must work hard to develop a stronger teacher presence, and set clear expectations early in the course to avoid classroom management issues.
4.   I realised that techniques I use to discipline my own children in elementary school can still apply to these kids in highschool!
5.   Jumping in to teach in another teacher's class is like trying to cook in someone else's kitchen.

It was a valuable learning experience.   It has made me a stronger person.    The negative feedback was like a "wake up call".   I am thankful to my SA for being genuine and honest with me.   I know that she was well-intentioned, and did not want me to be setup for failure next semester.   She was doing me a favour by letting me know now,  rather than later.   I want to grow, and learn from my mistakes.   Having room to grow is a good state to be in.  

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