Week One of Teaching

So, I was hoping to blog way more than what I have been, but wow! When I come home after school I am completely wiped out!  I have never been one to be in bed by 11, but since I have been teaching and observing, all I do when I get home is revise/create my lesson plans and then go to bed! Like holy wow! I was not expecting this and I talked to other teachers about it and they said that they went through the same thing and that our bodies just have to adjust (for a bit of assurance!).

Overall, it FEELS like this entire week has been a complete flop and I had a bit of an “Ashley” moment today after teaching one of my lessons. Even though this is something that I could have hid to make everything seem like it was going perfect, I feel the urge to make a confession to everyone explaining a not-so-great moment for me: So, I had a bit of a melt down (nothing serious though) after I taught my lesson today.  After all the stress of this week and the unexpected shortening class (further delaying my lessons and making it seem like more a flop than what it already was), I sat down in my chair and my eyes just welled up with tears.  Only a few tears managed to escape and I was able to recover quickly soon after once I got my mind focused on other things.  Fortunately, this happened during a break but I still feel that I should have handled that situation more professionally and should have been able to control my emotions.  On a good note, the rest of my day went fairly well! In a small way, I feel as though having that bit of a melt down made me feel a lot better (which is odd but I find this is the case quite often!… unfortunately).

So some of the stresses happened through this whole week mainly had to do with small things that went wrong in my lesson plans/teaching.  Sure some of these mistakes have been small and some were not in my control at all, but looking at all of these little mistakes it makes me think that I need a whole lot of improvement and even sometimes questions whether or not I can or should be a teacher.  A few of the mistakes or negatives about my teaching this week include:

– I need to learn to slow down when talking and take numerous short pauses to allow students to write notes and understand the material.

– I definitely need to work on my time management.

– Two of three of my math classes unexpectedly ended early (by about 5-10 minutes each).  I was unaware of this and I had planned for a 60 minute lesson (which is also wrong because I learned today classes are only 55 minutes… which I feel is strange!).  So, all of this combined has resulted in planning not going right and I feel my students are not understanding the material as well as I intended for them.

A few things that went fairly well this week include:

– Everyone seems to enjoy the activity that I created for the proof of the sine law for obtuse angles (cutting up the proof and having students put the proof into the correct order).  My partner has already used this idea (tried it out today) and my cooperating teacher has said that he would like to “steal” my idea.  This makes me think that my ideas are actually good, but I just need to work on putting them into practice (which gives me hope!).

– My questioning is starting to really improve.  Before I was asking very basic questions that were more of a nuisance to students and didn’t really get their thinking going or anything like that; and now, I am asking a variety of questions that are challenging the students thinking (which is what I was hoping for!).  I haven’t completely mastered this yet, but I feel that I have grown enough in this area that I can now move on to focus on other teacher aims and goals.

– One last positive is that I can remember most of my students names that I am teaching in period 1.  I have only had them for three days now (because of parent-teacher conferences) and I have been able to memorize all but a few students names (those who haven’t shown up at all yet!).  This has helped me tremendously because it shows my students that I am trying to make an effort to get to know them and teach them, and it also helps me with questioning.  When completing discussion-based lessons, if students are not taking part in this conversation, it is much easier to call out certain students when you know their names.

– My days go by SO fast! It’s amazing how an hour can go by when your teaching.  What feels like 15 minutes has actually been a whole hour!  I love how these days are going by so fast and I hope they continue to. 🙂

– I went to my school’s basketball game.  It was the junior girls playing at another school.  It felt great to be there and I found myself cheering for my team and getting angry every time the other team scored.  Unfortunately they lost but I felt a real part of the school by going!  Also, it’s fun and a great way to take your mind of things for a while.

For all of those pre-service teachers out there, I have a few pieces of advice:

1. Not all of your lessons are going to be awesome lesson plans.  In fact, maybe I should revise this to say “there is no such thing as a perfect lesson plan.”  Not everything is going to go as you have planned and there is always a better way of teaching a certain lesson so don’t feel bad if you don’t have a “perfect” lesson plan.

2. Make sure you talk to someone outside of your pre-internship about what is going on, such as family!  I haven’t talked to any of my family this week and I feel like I need to go on a rant to someone who doesn’t know my exact situation and knows how to comfort me.  I have tried talking to my partner and others who are closer to the situation and I feel that I am not getting my frustrations out (which may have led to my breakdown today).  They try to reassure me but they can’t quite calm me down and reassure me like my mom can.  So, those who can comfort you and talk you through things are good people to keep around because there will always be some sort of frustration that needs to be resolved.

3. Plan your lessons in as much advance as you can.  When you come home after teaching (especially in the first week), you will find that you are drained and don’t have the energy to look at lesson planning.  For me, I completed rough drafts of my lesson plans the weekend before and I still found it very hard to go back and try to think about completely finishing and fixing the final product.

4. Get lots of sleep and allow time for you to relax.  If you don’t do either of these, you will drain yourself and you won’t last the full three weeks (or internship or actually teaching!).  I plan on going swimming this weekend to help me relax so I am hoping this will help me clear my head and allow my body to relax and not feel over stressed/worked.

Overall, it was an okay week.  I am very excited to teach next week and hope that it goes much better than this week did.  I will be teaching Foundations Math 20 and Grade 9 Math!

But, that’s all for now, it is almost midnight on a Friday night and I am going to bed… who would have thought! But I’m wiped and struggling to keep my eyes open so I will hopefully blog early next week. 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Week One of Teaching

  1. It sounds like you are off to a very successful start!! I’ve been teaching for 6 years (elementary school) and most of the above still applies.
    – Lessons go horribly wrong (though not as often as you gain practice)
    – Random things happen that interrupt your teaching (this will always be annoying)
    – You are exhausted

    It also sounds like you’re on the right track with making sure you make time for yourself :). As you go along you will find tricks and tips that allow you to work smarter, not harder. The first few years are the toughest – and practice teaching is one of the biggest challenges!

    Good Luck!

  2. Thank you! It means a lot to have an experience teacher comment and say that they have gone through similar experiences. It brings me comfort knowing that these are the kinds of experiences that I should be going through, that it is normal and it gets better. So, thank you! 🙂

  3. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who did not have “perfect” lessons. Not everything went as planned for me either. I had visions of this experience being a super success – and although it has gone well so far, it definitely has not all gone as planned! Good luck with your next two weeks!

  4. Lots of great advice here! I’ll have to direct next year’s pre-interns to your blog! And honestly, I think that advice applies to teaching in general, so keep it in mind when you’re in your own classroom!

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