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My Teaching Philosophy After Pre-Internship

After completing my pre-internship experience, I am now faced with a question: Has my teaching philosophy changed? My answer to this question is yes! There are things that I definitely feel more stronger about, that I am now questioning, that I know have realizations about, and that I would like to add.

One thing that I..

1. Feel stronger about:

I definitely have a stronger belief in the fact that teachers need to help students understand subjects (like mathematics) rather than memorize it.  For some subjects I know that this could be hard but up until I started taking education math classes, I never thought that there was a way that we can actually teach and learn math so that it can be understood and be connected to real life rather then through memorization and being basically spoon fed the information.  Now, I realize that there are always ways to help students understand material and not just memorize it (although sometimes it will require a bit of work!).

2. Am I now questioning:

I question my understanding of putting in 100% of my effort to try to help my students learn and succeed in their schooling.  During my pre-internship, I noticed that there was on average one student in every class where the teacher just didn’t even try to get them to write notes, do the assignment, or get them off of his/her phone.  They basically said that as long as the student wasn’t disrupting others, they could just sit there and do nothing.  This makes me wonder at what point do you just give up (or I apologize maybe this isn’t the correct term to use…) on a student so that way you aren’t slowing down the rest of the class.  It also makes me wonder if this same way of thinking will happen to me?  Will I just allow a student to sit there and do nothing and refuse to learn?  I just don’t see the point in being in school if you are just going to sit there and do nothing.  But now comes a question that I now have: Is it appropriate to ask a student to drop a class if they refuse to learn or do anything in that class?  Or can I ask them why there are there in that class if they are just going to take up space and not do anything?

3. Now realize and would like to add:

I now realize the importance of allowing students to individually practice examples of the material that we have just covered and having the teacher walk around checking for understanding and clarifying any questions.  

I unfortunately learned this the hard way in my pre-internship.  In one of my grade nine classes, we had spent 3 and a half days on one section of the text book (which I personally feel was quite a bit of time to cover that one section which built off of the previous section so they should have had a really good understanding of the material).  In the first day and a half, we spent the class time taking notes and doing A LOT of examples as a class.  Everything seemed to be going fine; many students were answering questions and shouting out answers so I genuinely thought that they would be ready for a quiz after some practice.  So, the next two days I had spent with them doing an assignment and a worksheet.  On the fourth day, we had a quiz and I was very surprised to see that a lot of students were struggling with it!  I knew that there would be a few students who would struggle with it but it seemed like more students were struggling with this than I had expected. 

After this, I had realized my one flaw that most likely had the biggest impact: I didn’t get to do much one-on-one work with my students and be able to check if ALL students were understanding the material (I couldn’t even get much one-on-one time with the students during the assignment and worksheet time because I was trying to get students who had missed previous classes caught up). 

Also, by being able to walk around and check students work, this would have been a great classroom management strategy to get the students writing down notes and all the examples (which I found out many were only watching the board and answering instead of taking notes as well).

Also, just because students are either quiet or many shout out the answer doesn’t mean that they completely understand the material which is another reason why allowing students to do individual work while the teacher is circulating the room is important.

So clearly, I now would like to add to my teaching philosophy the importance of allowing time for students to do examples and work individually while you walk around and check their work.  Big lesson I learned there.

4. Would like to add:

I actually no believe in tiered assignments.  I tried this out during my pre-internship and it actually turned out to work fairly well!  The students have done tiered assignments in that class before so they had an understanding of the expectations and what to do.   I did struggle with actually creating the assignments because I didn’t really know what assignments would be considered equal amount of work or time so that students didn’t chose which assignment was faster or shorter. 

What I would do now that I didn’t  realize until after but is I would do all the questions first (which I did) and then I would assign a mark to each question.  Then, I would make one assignment and then use the total value of marks to create the next test.  When doing this in my preinternship, I just looked at the questions and just kind of randomly picked the number of questions and made it all roughly the same number of questions rather than the same amount of time or work.

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“Blog About It” Entry 6 Part B

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).

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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.

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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.

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. 🙂

First Day of Teaching!

Today was a fairly good day.  My partner, Ali, and I team taught a grade 11 mathematics course where we investigated the relationship between sine/cosine/tangent of an obtuse angel that the sine/cosine/tangent of its supplementary angle.  The lesson overall went fairly well.  It wasn’t super great but it also wasn’t a complete disaster.

The lesson plan actually pretty much went according to plan except for a few minor things.  There were a few good, yet unexpected things that happened during this lesson:

– Ali decided to do random questioning during the discussion of the chart which got students to pay attention and allowed for a variety of students to answer questions.

– I had noticed that the students seemed bored after completing the second row of the chart as a class.  So, instead of completing all the rows, I ask students to check their work with a partner later on and that we would just move on to answer the big question of the different types of patterns revealed in this chart.

There were a few things that Ali and I have changed to our lesson plan since we taught this lesson:

– In the lesson, we went through the chart provided in the textbook and didn’t provide any examples outside of what was given in the table.  The change that we made were to reorganize the table so that students could have a clearer visualization of the relationships between the angles and to include examples of the relationships that were not in the chart so students can have more examples to see.

– We added a few more questions to the assignment.  In the lesson students had roughly an extra 10 minutes of class time.  They were all caught up on homework so they stood around talking.  We just added an extra two questions onto this assignment and completed a homework check at the end of the period instead of at the beginning of the next.

– Also, we added a classroom management strategy.  During the discussion of the chart, one student was answering all the questions, except one or two.  So, to get other students answer, we will be calling off names off the attendance sheet (since we still don’t know names!).  We tried this later on in the lesson and it worked great! All students were trying out the answers and became prepared in case they got called on.  Also, Ali asked a student to answer a question who was busy talking with a friend.  After this, it seemed to make the student pay attention to class and not talk with his friend.

Just a general comment about my growth so far: I feel that my questioning is getting better.  During orientation last week, it felt as if I was only asking basic questions and that I was asking those same questions over and over again to the point where I was annoying students.  Today, I feel as though my questions were actually deeper questions and they encouraged students to ask me questions if they were stuck (which before they would just say they were fine and go back to working).

So already I can see myself improving from this experience (small improvements, but improvements none the less!).

One thing that I am excited for is tomorrow.  I am teaching a lesson on proofs that I changed last minute and I am trying it in a style that is considered “out there” for me and is out of my comfort zone.  I originally have planned to teach my lesson using a conversation/guided discussion type lesson; but today, I decided that I wanted try something different and something that might be more engaging then just writing notes on the board.  So, I am teaching proofs using  an already solved proof, but it is cut up into many pieces and the students have to work in partners to put it in the right order.  I discussed this with my partner and cooperating teacher and we are all unsure of how it is going to go (my cooperating teacher has never tried a lesson like this with this particular group of students) but they are interested to see how it goes.  I am very excited but very nervous, but I’m sure all will go well. 🙂

Wish me good luck!!

“Blog About It” Entry 6: Part A – 3 BIG Questions

Three BIG questions about field experience and the role of teacher education:

1. What do you think is the purpose of field experience (i.e. pre-internship practicum, internship, etc.)?

I feel that field experiences serve many purposes that are all important.  The first is that the field experience allows us a chance to take what we have learned in our classes and actually apply that information into the classroom.  Throughout the past three years, there has been a tremendous amount of information that we, as teachers, need to know.  We can memorize and try to understand this material as much as we can but the best way for us to actually learn and understand this material is by experiencing it in the classroom and putting it into practice.  I can say that this is true for a fact because I’ve been through this.  One specific example was ECS 200 and 210.  There was a lot of information that, sure I thought was important, but I didn’t fully grasp the idea of what this might look like and how it would affect my teaching.  It wasn’t until ECS 300 when I got to teach is where I saw a lot of this information coming back to me and finally being able to see how it impacts the classroom and teacher.

The second purpose is that it’s a chance for us to practice teaching and work towards becoming the teacher that we imagine ourselves to be.  Also, it gives us a chance to try new things (ex. teaching styles/methods, classroom management, etc.), see what works and what doesn’t, and make mistakes while we still can and have someone to help us out if things get rough.

Another purpose includes being able to observe others and expand our ideas of and knowledge about teaching.  Sometimes, you don’t get to experience a wide variety of classrooms and teaching styles, especially for those in small schools.  Thus, being able to experience different classrooms and different teachers expands our knowledge of more current teaching practices and the different methods and practices that occur that differ from our own schooling experiences.

Being able to increase PLN (personal learning network) and get our names out in the schools is another purpose of field experiences.  Being in a school, there are many teachers and staff that you can become acquainted with and add to your PLN.  PLN’s are very important as the people in this group share information with one another and help each other out if needed.  Also, getting your name out and around to different teachers and administrators can increase your chances of getting a job.  Listening to many stories from interns and new teachers, their field experiences (mainly internship) got their name out to different people and many have been given high recommendations and some even got hired at their internship school immediate after graduation!

Lastly, then field experience allows us to gradually get used to the idea of teaching and makes us aware of some of the things to expect when we begin teaching.  Gradually get us used to the idea of teaching is important because that way it doesn’t feel like we are being thrown into teaching and become overwhelmed.  Being aware of what to expect and have few surprises will help increase the likeliness that we actually become great teachers and that teaching is something that we make a career of.  Statistics say that the first 5 years of teaching is the most difficult and this is when many teachers quit their jobs and move on to other professions.  A huge factor of this loss is because of the stress and complications that teachers had not foreseen and then become greatly overwhelmed and stressed.  Field experiences allows us to practice, observe, and become aware of and prepare for some of the complications, stress, and any other troubles that they may face in the future.

2. What roles does (or should) a teacher education program play in the process of becoming a teacher?

Just like the field experience, the teacher education program provides us with the opportunity to prepare for and work towards becoming the teacher that we want to be.  It also provides us with the information that will help us succeed as teachers, to be the best we can be for our students, information about students and their learning so that we can prepare to educate our students and help them to maximize their chances of success in school, and in life.

The teacher education program also allows us the opportunity to put this information to the test by applying it to actual teaching experiences.  Through these experiences, we are also provided with the opportunity build our own teaching philosophies and theories, to put these into context, and make changes and amendments to work towards perfecting these philosophies and theories.

Also, the teacher education program challenges our current views of teaching and education.  Teaching and education is rapidly evolving and changing; thus, it is important that we constantly challenge our ways of thinking and think of new ways to better ourselves and make our teaching more effective and efficient so that students can maximize their learning experience at school and make it more enjoyable.

3. What do you already know now about being a mathematics teacher that is unlikely to change through your upcoming field experiences (i.e. fundamental beliefs, values, commitments, etc.)?

There are a few things that I can be certain about being a mathematics teacher that is unlikely to change through my upcoming field experiences.  This includes:

1. As a mathematics teacher, I need to help my students understand math, rather than memorize it.

2. Rather than just the answer, it is more important to teach and assess the thought process and steps of a solution.

3. As a mathematics teacher, I need to be 100% committed to teaching my students, be there if they need help, and provide them with everything they need to help the succeed.

4. In mathematics, not every lesson has to be inquiry-based.  There are many factors that can affect this such as timing and the type of class.