Today I was in a classroom. Today I was the teacher.
Today, I had the opportunity to observe an intern teach a physical education class and then math class. This experience felt weird to me as this time last year, I was the intern. It didn’t help that I am so young and look like I should still be an intern and not a teacher, but I digress. This experience led met to reflect back on my moments in my internship, but to also challenge the ways in which I instruct students, whether that is in a classroom where I am the substitute or whether it is in my own classroom one day.
In terms of my own internship experience I remember being in her shoes and …
- Not wanting the substitute teacher there
- Making it known that I was the teacher, the ones the students should come to if they had questions about my own classroom
- Worrying about getting the lesson taught within the time frame
- Not always checking up on students to make sure they were understanding as much as I should have
In terms of my own teaching now (subbing and my own classroom) …
- It is important that you check frequently for understanding through many methods. When correcting as a class, sometimes struggling students can be missed and they can write down the ‘correct’ answers, but they may not understand and be able to complete assignments/tasks on their own. They need to achieve and feel success as learning is happening.
- Take the extra minute and clarify terms, directions, instructions, expectations, rules, procedures – as it helps the students. Also, take a minute and make sure the students are listening before you move on to something new.
- Develop relationships and get to know the students. Make connections – ask questions – talk and have discussions. This proves to be a bit of a challenge, as right now, I have been in different classrooms and schools when I have subbed.
- Be conscious of how you talk to the students – your tone, your choice of words, the students you continually call on – are you making positive and encouraging remarks or are you getting frustrated with them?
- I feel it is important to understand the students you are working with – their strengths, weaknesses, backgrounds, attitudes, areas they need help in, any adaptations or needs they may have etc. as this will help you set them up for success.
- It is important to ask for feedback from teachers and administrators who observe you, so that you can hear their thoughts and perspectives and so that you can learn, improve and grow as an intern, teacher, or any role that you find yourself in.
Today, I was also reminded that many teachers have their own style – their own way of teaching and interacting with their students. I did not agree with everything that I saw from the intern today, but she did however teach her lessons and communicate effectively the knowledge and skills she wanted her students to learn.
I remembered that in a gymnasium – a whistle is a good thing to have! * Note to self: get a whistle! Having been in the gym with three different classes and there was no whistle, I relied on my teacher voice – yes, it still exists after I worked so hard to develop it last fall! I did still long for a whistle…
Checking for understanding, responding to students and gathering attention are all areas that I myself am still working on to improve – each day is a new learning experience and one that I believe varies depending on the students you are teaching.
So today I was a teacher, a learner, an observer and a reflector.