Well this semester has been a real whirl wind! From my parents selling their farm, to me moving to Moose Jaw; it has had its ups and downs to say the least. Even through all of these ups and downs, something that wasn’t affected by my life changes, was how I felt about teaching. Being in the classroom this semester reassured me that I belong there. Teaching was made for me. I love having authority, and I love being a mother figure. I have learned a lot about teaching this semester, which has helped me develop my teaching philosophy and understanding of lesson plans.
From my students, I have learned that they come in all shapes and sizes, from all around the world. The vast amount of diversity within the classroom is astonishing and wonderful to see. My Canadian students are so overly welcoming to new students and help them whenever they can. I was amazed to see how well Peer Partner Learning worked within my classroom. My students showed me what it used to be like when I was in grade 7/8. They are so happy all the time. All I can remember from school was being miserable in High School, but they were so thrilled to be there and see their friends everyday. This also showed me how close knit these students are. My students also showed me that I would love to teach a grade 7/8 class one day. They make me so happy! 🙂
What did I learn about lesson planning? Well, I learned that it definitely isn’t as scary as I once thought it was. The hard part is coming up with the assessments for these lessons, and teaching the lessons in a way that won’t lose your students completely. I feel really confident about planning lessons now and it is something that I actually enjoy doing.
I think the most valuable thing I learned about teaching this semester was the ability to think quick on my feet. There was a few times where I had to change the lesson really quick because I was either losing my students or the way I was teaching it wasn’t working. This ability is something that I will take with me throughout my teaching career, and it will grow with me as I do. Also, I learned that being compassionate is something that has to be done everyday in the classroom. My ECS 300 Lab instructor told me something that I will always take with me, “no matter how bad your students are behaving, while disciplining them, always leave them with their dignity; if you don’t, you’ll lose them forever.” I think this stuck with me because it is something that has happened to me in the past. I have been screamed at by teachers, in front of all of my peers, and those teachers have still failed to gain my respect. Being compassionate towards your students is the quickest way you will gain their respect. Truly getting to know your students is also a very valuable process within the classroom. I can’t wait to be able to establish a family within my classroom one day.
As for my professional growth, I feel my classroom management abilities have blossomed this semester. The students don’t scare me anymore, and I’m never afraid to intervene when the students need it. I still get a little butterfly in my stomach before teaching, but as I’ve been told, this is extremely healthy for teachers as it gives us an edge. I think another way I have developed professionally is with differentiating assignments and lessons. I had 7 EAL students in my class, and with every lesson I had to put my thinking cap on and figure out how I was going to adapt the lesson to terms that they would understand. This is a very valuable technique that will stay with me for the entirety of my teaching career.
I think the next steps for the coming semesters is just being more organized. I feel like I would have my lesson plan all figured out, then I’d get up in front of the class and draw a blank. I really want to work on this for next winter, when I do my 3 week teaching block. Something else that I need to work on is reducing my stress. I feel like this is something that I need to work on outside of school, but it affects me every day of my life. I have been able to cope with my anxiety issues without medication, which is something I pride myself on, but once I learn how to reduce my stress level, I know I’ll be good to go in the classroom.
It feels like I am finally thinking and acting like a teacher. It’s almost like everything I do in a day I somehow relate it to teaching or a lesson plan. I have notes all over my desk at home of good ideas for future lesson plans. The way I was thinking three months ago was as a student. Now, I know I am ready to teach. I am so happy I chose this profession, or rather, it chose me.
At the beginning of the semester, my goals were much different than they are now. I have worked on these goals all semester and I feel as if they have been achieved, which feels great. I am no organized (my books and computer are, not my mind!), which is something I pride myself on because in high school, I struggled greatly with this. I never had assignments done one time, and very rarely showed up to classes. Now, I have all of my binders and my desk organized, and all of my assignments and essays done for the semester; which feels great! Regarding professionalism, I have been told many times by my co-op teacher that my professionalism really shines through. This feels really good to be told, because it means that obviously I’m doing alright with this goal. I always dressed for success in the classroom, and I know my students respected me. With my language in the classroom, I didn’t want to read off a script while teaching. It turns out, the best thing with this is to just make simple notes for yourself and bring them on a sticky-note to the front of the class. I did it every time I presented a lesson and it worked like a charm. Trying to read off your lesson plan is just too hard to do, and it makes you look silly if you are constantly reading off a script to the class. All in all, I feel my goals were achieved, which is a nice pat on the back now that I think of it.