Sunday, December 7, 2014

Week 11 - "Welcome to Teaching"

I cannot count the number of times I have said "welcome to teaching" to my student teacher this week. She continues to integrate fairly well into my flipped physics class (she is getting to know students, coming up with things to do in class in addition to textbook work, making attempts to engage students in the learning process, etc) and has now taken on my Grade 9 academic science class (which is essentially not flipped).

Watching her dive into teaching two classes reminds me of my first couple of years of teaching. Time spent overwhelmed, unsure, but full of potential and excitement. I am always in awe of my colleagues who have young families at home and still manage to do so much for our school, but I cannot imagine starting this career with a young family already going. This is the situation my student teacher is in. She has a family at home and has decided to go to school to become a teacher. I admire her, but I can also see how difficult this balance is going to be for her, especially as she is learning a new school system (she was educated elsewhere).

This week was especially hectic in our building. We knew that her physics instructor from OISE was going to come on Nov 11th, which also involved a modified schedule because of the Remembrance Day assembly, and we were interrupted throughout the day for the meningitis clinic. This was probably our biggest "welcome to teaching" moment. We constantly have to be flexible in a school environment. I get called out of classes to attend to first aid situations unexpected. Changes in the schedule pop up with less notice than we would like. It reminds us that we have to be flexible in our classes as well. Not every class is going to get through the same material, the same way, in the same amount of time. We have to know out students and the class well so that we can implement assessment practices into our daily classes effectively and with purpose.

This week she also got to experience a chance to guide students through a research project. It was the grade 11 course so they generally do not need as much support, but it reminded me that it was a chance to spend a bit of time supporting the international student and remembering that those students did not have the same experiences when they were younger that the rest of my students have had. These students still need to be introduced to database resources and be taught the importance of citations, plagiarism, and appropriate sources

One of the most interesting moments of the week for me was when the student teacher sparked an interesting debate in our grade 9 class. They had watched Bill Nye's Food Webs video and she was reviewing some of the content afterward when the question arose "is a farm an example of an ecosystem?". This got them thinking about what a food web has to have and actually looking at whether those things existed on a farm. It was a simple question, with complex ideas that has a lot of potential in a classroom. Hopefully I remember this one for later!

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