I still can’t believe this was my last week at my elementary practicum. Wow, how time flies when you’re incredibly busy, and we were. I’m incredibly grateful for the experience! A few things I’d like to note:
- My teaching skills have come a LONG way in a short time. I grew to feel really comfortable in front of the room and speaking with the students while instructing them. I recommend everyone try to teach a “pretty full” week, or if you can’t do that, teach an entire day (5 or 6 classes, different grade levels). The constant need to adapt, redirect, change, etc., will really help you in terms of gaining confidence teaching. (Not saying it isn’t difficult…but it’s well worth it!)
- As almost a necessary result, my behavior management skills improved exponentially over just a week. At one point I wrote in my notes, “Don’t be afraid to STOP and REDIRECT”. It can be frustrating when you think “I need to teach X and Y, we need to do activity Z, and they’ve got to find new books in 35 minutes”. But, when behavioral issues mean the entire class is distracted, it’s okay to stop, redirect, refocus, and come back to the lesson, even if it eats into the time. Otherwise, you’re simply continuing the lesson so you can feel successful, when really it’s more about making sure your students are successful at the end — even if it’s not quite up to what your expectations were when you were planning. That was a lesson I needed to learn, but I learned it quickly!
- My experience after school with the Tech Club really helped me gain an understanding of my students, because I saw them three times a week- twice in tech afterschool, once during the school day. Because I’m not a “digital native” and can actually be a bit of a Luddite, it was great for me to see how ten year olds approach digital work, creation, production, and just general computer skills.There’s a huge difference, for the record, between students who may be in the same grade but have vastly different skill sets and experience with tech. While I was at the school, we learned/reviewed/made projects/created using Wordle/Tagxedo, Animoto, and Make Belief Comix, and I did a tutorial on how to create using Prezi. This week we started discussing Popplet as a mind-mapping tool but also a presentation tool.
By the time I left today, with 129.5 hours under my belt, I felt really good about how this whole rapid-paced experience went. Considering I went into (school name) feeling like the elementary level was going to be incredibly difficult and “out of my comfort zone”, I emerged feeling like I could really make a difference working with the younger students in our school system. That’s probably the best feeling one can have after student teaching…. right?