Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My review went well

I really appreciated the way my advisor conducted my review yesterday. Before we began, she had the notes from my observation, my lesson plan, and even the worksheets I had designed at the ready. She then gave me a couple moments to reflect on the lesson and how it had gone from my perspective. I'd already gotten some preliminary feedback from her on the pacing of my very first "official" lesson. (Yep, due to schedule constraints, I was observed on my first day of official teaching.) I say "official" because we were supposed to spend the first week as observers only. However, the classroom I was assigned to had not been fully staffed, and every hand was needed, so I had had a chance to leap in early and begin getting some experience teaching the students.

She showed me her notes and told me how the lesson had gone from her viewpoint as an experienced teacher. We discussed how to take cues from the students themselves on what pace they need in order to learn the lesson well, and how to best demonstrate movement in a primary grade environment. (My first movement activity involved stretching for long vowels and shrinking down for short vowels. My advisor suggested that it often helps with activities like that to really exaggerate the movement.) And I noted that the children themselves had exaggerated the movement more than I had, and in later segments of the same lesson, I copied them and similarly exaggerated my own movements. She also suggested that, especially for the first class in a series of similar classes, I should have gone through the worksheet with them to make sure that the students were able to do the work required of them.

I was then able to ask her for advice on taking my own ideas and making sure they were firmly grounded in the educational goals for the children. While I believe that children want to learn and will do their best to do so until we adults teach them that school is awful, I also know that as a teacher, I am responsible to the school, the community, and ultimately, the students themselves to ensure that what they learn is on track with the standards for what they are supposed to be learning.

What had been worrying me is less that I might get a bad grade (although, of course, I want a good grade) than that I might be failing my students by expecting too much or worse, too little from them, or that I might be failing to learn critical skills for managing the classroom. I was reassured to learn that my advisor thinks I'm on track and learning the skills my students will need me to have.

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