Reading #2: Curriculum Theory and Practice by Mark Smith

I found this reading particularly difficult to get through. I think the main reason I struggled with this reading was because the way Smith approached the topic was incredibly scientific. He did not put it in terms that I found interesting or that really grasped my attention. (It gave me a headache). I feel that every teacher’s view on curriculum will change based on their experience, how many years they’ve been teaching, and their pedagogy. I know for a fact that the way I see curriculum will be totally different five years from now. I’m only a third year student, I haven’t even really gotten my hands dirty in making a proper curriculum yet. Something that I did connect with within the reading was when he broke down what he was discussion and put it into a chart, so it was more easy to compare the different curriculum styles and where they really originate from. Personally, I would fit within the scientific method column. I like to be incredibly organized and the way I have been taught to make a lesson plan is very cut and paste. Obviously this will change over the years, but as for now it is the style that I connect with most. A note that I found interesting was simply the research about the natural order of development in children. I thought of Montessori while reading about that. It is very interesting to me, as it almost baffles my mind how this method will work with some children, and fail miserably with others.

To be honest, I think looking this hard into curriculum is a little silly. Curriculum is something that needs to be practiced, over and over again until you know the style you will be using. I would have enjoyed this reading much more if it didn’t have such a scientific approach to it. It was hard to read and I didn’t really enjoy it.


Reading #1: The Problem of Common Sense by Kumashiro


  1. How does Kumashiro define ‘common sense’?

Kumashiro defines common sense as the prior knowledge learned and embedded on one. Cultural and societal norms play a huge part in the construction of a person’s common sense. Common sense towards the classroom environment and behaviour is developed throughout all school years, starting in the primary grades and working its way into the secondary classes. How one acts and thinks within classrooms are something that everyone believes may be a commonsensical routine. But, students from around the world all have different mannerisms within the classroom all based on how they have been raised and how classes have been conducted in their country of origin. What is common sense for one may not be common sense for another.

  1. Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘common sense’?

It is quite crucial of us, as educators, to pay attention to common sense because the demography of our classroom will always be changing. We must be ready to made adaptations for certain students if they are simply not comfortable with “conforming” to our norms or our commonsensical behaviour. This can include things such as students not being comfortable with answering questions in class because they have been brought up knowing it is simply common sense to not be disrespectful to the teacher. It is also important to note that we must always be prepared to change and adapt the way our minds work when relating to common sense. Teaching a lesson in a way that appears common sense to you, may actually be rather oppressive to others. As teachers, we need to be willing to change our common sense to a more anti-oppressive point of view.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Final Thoughts: My Teaching Reflection

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.

Last Day of Teaching: A Fun Lesson

So, unfortunately, today was our last day in the classroom. It was really sad, because I finally know all of my students names and a lot about these students. It is disheartening to know I may not see these students ever again (maybe I’ll be lucky enough to teach them one day!). We did an art lesson today that was called Connect the Pictures. 

In this lesson, students were to get into groups and create a story by connecting 6 random pictures I gave them. They would then present this story to the class. It was super fun! It was a wonderful way to engage all my students, and even all of the EAL students participated which was wonderful to see. [Connect the Pictures – Assignment]

We did our evaluation today, and my co-op teacher checked ‘yes’ for every question. It is nice to see that my hard work throughout the semester paid off. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time in this class and I really wouldn’t mind being placed in a grade 7/8 classroom for my internship next winter. It just seems like the students are always in a good mood, they are always willing to learn, and happy to be in the classroom.

I am going to miss my students so much. They were all so wonderful. I got a thank-you card from them and they told my to come back anytime I want! My co-op teacher told me that, if in the future, I happen to need resources, to just pop by and pick some up. Overall, it was a wonderful placement and I can’t wait to use the strategies I learned this semester in my future classrooms!

Thanks for reading, Caitlin.

Reteach Time

So this Monday, I was able to reteach a past lesson with a different group of grade 7/8 students. I revised my lesson about structures of government and just isolated the process of a bill. [March 23rd Lesson Plan]. I think maybe I’m a total dork, but I was so extremely excited to teach about this. I had very little nerves, which was nice for a change. That’s why I love this program so much! I get to teach things I’m really passionate about. Anyways, I started by drawing the process of a bill on the board (Prime Minister, Bill Committee, House of Commons, Senate, Governor General, Law), then I split the class into 4 groups, and it was their job to revise bills, and explain why they would pass them, or why they would send them back to me (the Prime Minister). They were acting as the House of Commons. This new classroom only had 2 EAL students, so the adaptations I discussed with their teacher was simply using group work, because that would be how they learned best. The lesson was a hit! I gave them all different bills, one was about the age to consume alcohol , another was about work hours within Canada, the third was about obtaining a driver’s license, and the last was about mandatory school uniforms. All of these topics were okay’d by the teacher (I was unsure about the alcohol one, but he told me it is a topic they discuss often while debating within the classroom). I gave them space to respond to the bill at the bottom of the handout, and within their groups they had to choose a recorder and a reporter. It was only a half hour lesson, but I feel that they were all engaged and learned a lot from it!