Part i) Reflection on “3 Big Questions” Blog
I completed my pre-internship practicum last Thursday and all I can say about it is WOW!! The amount that I have learned in my three years in the education program does not even compare to what I have learned and how I have grown in this three week block.
Looking back at my initial responses to the “3 Big Questions” in Part A of the Entry 6 blog, I can say that my answers now aren’t that much different from three weeks ago. The only big difference I would say is that I would put more emphasis on some points and less on others. One example is in the first question: What do you think is the purpose of field experience (i.e. pre-internship practicum, internship, etc.)? In my response, I do not differentiate which of the 5 points are more prominent than others. Now, I believe that there is one point in particular that is the most important purpose of the field experience: “it’s a chance for us to practice teaching and work towards becoming the teacher that we imagine ourselves to be.” The whole time during my experience, this was the most important factor that I considered and always kept in mind while teaching and lesson planning. In fact, the other purposes that I mentioned passed through my mind only a small fraction of the time when compared to how often I thought of the above purpose.
Maybe one change that I would make to the above statement is I would like to reword it: It’s a chance for us to experiment and try new things that will help us work towards becoming the teachers that we imagine ourselves to be. I feel that the previous statement doesn’t put enough emphasis on the “trying new things” part which I believe now is a huge part! During my pre-internship, I decided that now would be the best time to try new things since I would only be there for three weeks so I couldn’t mess things up horribly and that if I did mess up, there would be an experienced teacher to help me out. There are a number of things that I tried out in the grade 11 classroom that I was teaching which I was very unsure of the results (but turned out pretty great!):
Note: I am used to teaching and learning math through direct instruction so even though this may seem like small things to you, they felt like huge chances to me! 1. Instead of teaching proofs by writing notes on the board and trying to explain it, I did an activity with them where they had mixed up parts of a proof and had to put it together in the correct order (kind of like doing a puzzle).
2. I used a manipulative for teaching the ambiguous case rather than just drawing diagrams on the board and explaining. Students paired up and each group got one manipulative.
This idea was shared from Christine Schmidt’s website.
3. As an introduction to a new unit, I used an inquiry style introduction to find out where my students were at. In this activity, I gave students a list of equations and a blank chart with 3 categories. At first, I would tell students which category an equation fit into and they would have to guess what the category was. After a while students began to realize what pattern was developing in two of three categories (the third because this was a “neither” category so there would have been no pattern) and then they would tell me where the rest of the equations fit. From this I was able to see what students could remember from previous classes (which I found out they knew equations from the first category but not from the second).
If I had to change the emphasis placed on each of the 5 purposes that I had listed, going in order from most important (1) to the least important (5), I would say:
1. ” that it’s a chance for us to practice teaching and work towards becoming the teacher that we imagine ourselves to be.”
2. “gradually get used to the idea of teaching and makes us aware of some of the things to expect when we begin teaching.”
3. “allows us a chance to take what we have learned in our classes and actually apply that information into the classroom.”
4. “observe others and expand our ideas of and knowledge about teaching.”
5. “increase PLN (personal learning network) and get our names out in the schools.” (This one may vary depending on which field experience you are completing – if you are in your internship this will have a higher importance when compared with your first field experience where you are just observing teachers).
Part ii) Reflection on the quote from Dewey (2003)
“Working with preservice teachers can be puzzling and surprising, particularly because they are students at the same time that they are learning to be teachers… I offer the following suggestions for teacher educators in assisting preservice teachers to discover their teacher selves. It is important to help students identify inconsistencies between their beliefs and practices and to discover counter examples to strongly held beliefs. In addition, preservice teachers must learn to assume personal responsibility for their actions and performance and not blame the students or others for their problems. To be a learner requires the consent of the learner (Loughran & Northfield, 1996). Therefore, it is essential that the learner is open to learning and seeing multiple perspectives. It is important that preservice teachers acquire a discovery, problem-solving mode that allows them to inquire and examine their teaching and the students’ learning through reflection and inquiry. I have learned that for the inquiry–reflection cycle to successfully become a habit of mind, it is important to help students develop the following attitudes and dispositions essential for reflection: open-mindedness, responsibility, and wholeheartedness (Dewey, 1933).”
The key message that really stands out to me is the importance of challenging and reflecting on one’s experiences and thoughts to help that person discover his/her teacher self. I can say this from my own personal experience, a recent example being from my pre-internship where I found that one of the best ways that helped me improve as a teacher was to reflect and think back on my lessons and think about how I could improve, what went well, what needed to be changed, and whether or not my teaching strategies were effective.
Also, during my post-conference with my cooperating teacher, he challenged my thinking and questioned some of the methods that I used to teach a particular lesson which really got me thinking about aspects of my teaching that could be improved or changed and whether or not they were best for the students and not just best for me.
Another key point hit in this quote is when Dewey states “To be a learner requires the consent of the learner.” This can be said by the old saying that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink it. Same goes for teaching and learning; if a student is unwilling to learn, they won’t and you can try all you want to make them learn but the only way that they will is if they want to. So, this is my question now: If students are unwilling to learn, how can we encourage them and help them to realize that they want learn and that it would be a great benefit for them to do so? And of course I know that we learn all the time even if we are unaware of it but what about learning in schools? How can we help students want to become and realize that they are life long learners?
Quote taken from: Freese, A. (2006). Reframing one’s teaching: Discovering our teacher selves through reflection and inquiry. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(1), 100-119.