Tag Archive | reflections

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.

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. 🙂

Reflection On “What Is Mathematics For?”

I recently read an article called “What Is Mathematics For?” By Underwood Dudley.  Rather than discussing why arithmetic mathematics is important, which has the obvious answer of everyone actually uses it in their everyday lives, the author discuss the other types of math including algebra, trigonometry, calculus, linear algebra, and so on (although focus is on algebra).

In the beginning of the article, the author introduces the history of the purpose of math starting with ancient Romans, Egyptians, and Arabic’s where their main purposes for math were not to study it and make it mandatory for the children to know and understand, but for reasons such as enjoyment.  It wasn’t until the mid 1900s when math became mandatory in school.  Lately, many people have believed the myth that mathematics is required for almost all jobs.  This might be true for arithmetic, but calculus and trigonometry? Not a chance.  Even then for the jobs that require these types of math, almost all of these jobs will have some sort of technology like a calculator or cash register to help solve the math.

At one part on the article where he is discussing what reasons other people think math is important for (second column of page 609), Dudley lists a quote from a book that he read and he replied with the following statement:

“Exactly what career this applied to was not specified.  Nor was it mentioned that the best way to solve this problem is to find a member of the group and ask.  The answer should be forthcoming.  If the person’s reply is the conundrum in the text, the member of the group should be beaten about the head until he or she promises to behave in a more civilized manner.”

I just couldn’t stop laughing at this partially because I never would have thought to have asked a member of the group.  I mostly likely would have tried to calculate the question in my head (which let’s face it, wasn’t that hard) even though asking was obviously the easiest and fastest solution to the problem.  Also, I just love how Dudley makes fun of the author of the book in this statement.  In the first two sentences, this pokes fun saying that the scenario posed was completely unrelated to the book topic (how math is in many careers) and that it did not justify the author’s argument in any way.  In the last sentence, which is just altogether an awesome and rather hilarious sentence, when the author states “if the person’s reply is the conundrum in the text.”  This just shows how unrealistic the actual scenario and replies were in the book and that this book might not be worth reading and taking notes on.  Also, beating someone as a way to civilize them is really more hypocritical than anything because beating someone is itself an uncivilized act.  So really, I just loved the humor the author added to spice up his article a little more.  I will also make one note which is that although Dudley pokes fun at this author, he also supports the author by saying that the author’s example was “superb”, but that they just shouldn’t have used to justify mathematics in careers.

Alright, now that I have completely destroyed that joke and made it completely not funny, the author goes on to discuss other reasons why we teach math which includes: used in everyday life and jobs and it prepares students for higher level math classes.  Finally the author gets to what he believes to be the reason for teaching math: “mathematics develops the power to reason.  It shows, better than any other subject, how reason can lead to truth.”  This isn’t a new idea, Dudley provides an exert from a text from 1834 and 1906.  Dudley’s belief of mathematics also reflects the beliefs of my education math professor and somewhat more recently, my own beliefs.

I recommend that everyone read this article as I feel that it has some valuable information and that it reflects what I believe to be the most important reason for teaching math.  I also feel that many people don’t understand why we teach math and why it’s important that students know and understand it so this article might help to clarify these issues.

Online Learning Experience Reflection

Today for class we used Skype and Adobe Pro rather than meeting in an actual classroom.  There were a few aspects of tonight’s class that I thought were great, and then there were a few aspects that didn’t go so well.

What did I like?

  • I learned about some of the features of Adobe Pro like the “raise hand” button and the private messages (although I could almost see that aspect being not so good with some students)
  • Don’t need to download Adobe Pro.
  • I felt our conversation on Skype about each others blogs was really good (this may vary between groups).  Everyone had different ideas and inputs that I had never considered before (also was a good confidence boost. Thanks everyone! 🙂 ).
  • Google Docs.  This is a great way to collaboratively work with others from different locations.  Allowing everyone to work on the same document at the same time is great, in my opinion, because then everyone can do their fair share of work and so it’s not just one person doing all the work.  Many of my other classes stress the importance of using Google Docs and this was just another way to reinforce this.
  • The combination of using Google Docs and Skype at the same time.  I thought this was really interesting because while everyone wrote their inputs on the questions, we were discussing it at the same time using the audio feature from Skype.
  • When Skyping with the group, I liked how we were using Google Docs at the same time because it gave me something to look at.  When we did the group call, we could only look at everyone’s profile photos so if I wasn’t also noting on Google Docs what we were discussing, I might have had a hard to focusing on the conversation.
  • Because I was hidden behind the computer screen and in smaller groups, I felt more confident to share my ideas (I think others too!)
  • Closing remarks: Using Adobe Pro for morning announcements and walking around the school and showing the students whats new and going on in the school.  I thought this was a really neat idea!

What didn’t I like?

  • When setting up both Adobe Pro and Skype, we had a few technical difficulties.  On Adobe Pro, we started 20 minutes late because people were still logging in and setting up (which is expected for the first use of an online class).  On Skype, we continuously lost members of our group and kept having to add them back in or restarting a group call.
  • At one point on Adobe Pro I got disconnected from the group and it sent me to a troubleshoot page (4 times! I ended up missing some of what Milissa was saying). It logged me out of the session so I had to exit and click on the link through the ECMP blog (I tried pressing back and it didn’t work).

What did I learn?

  • I’ve never used Adobe Pro before so I learned a few of its great features (“raising hand” button and the other button on that drop down menu, group chat, private messaging, and you can be a host, guest or presenter).
  • On Skype, I didn’t know how to do group calls or add people to the call before and I learned how to today (to do group calls, go to contacts, hold “ctrl” button and click on contacts you wish to call, right click and click on “call group.” To add someone to a call, open up your group call, on the top menu, click “Contacts” and then “Add people”).
  • I learned what other people thought made up a good blog (see Google Docs for everyone’s thoughts).  A few suggestions I will try to incorporate in my blog are: having a balance between videos, pictures, and actual writing and having a “voice” in my writing.

Click here to view the group Google Docs that we created.

Here is an article I found online that discusses more about the strengths and weaknesses of online learning.

Michelle Morley’s Presentation

The main message I got out of Michelle’s presentation was that educators need to keep in mind are the four C’s (Create, Collaborate, Communicate, and Critical Thinking Skills).  When I think of being a Math teacher, my mind keeps going back to how I was taught which was basically only through direct instruction, but what Michelle was telling us is that we need to get our students involved in the classroom (using these four C’s and technology).

Some of the technology discussed that I’ve heard of included skype, wiki, Edmodo, YouTube, pinterest, twitter, and Google +.  A few of these, including pinterest and Google + , I have never thought of using in the classroom and I think these are technologies that I would like to look into to use in my classroom.

There were quite a few technologies that Michelle brought up that I have never heard of before and would like to look into: stixy, bubbl.us, and snapguide.

I really liked how we could have a presenter without them actually being there.  I did like Adobe Pro, although I wish that the webcam was hooked up.  This is because I find I can pay attention better and focus on what the presenter is trying to say when I can see their face and the body language their using rather than just watching screen shots.  Other than that, I really liked Adobe Pro and would definitely use it in my classroom say for example if it was a snow day, I was sick, or needed to provide a tutorial session for my students outside of class.

No Limits

The article No Limits, by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, discusses how teachers need to find newer and more ways to integrate technology in such a way that is more meaningful to students.  A study has shown that “one quarter of today’s students agree that school is meaningful or their courses are interesting.”  The student’s that are in school now and that will be entering our schools are digital learners, so we as teachers need to find newer and more engaging ways to teach using technology.  I thought she was spot on with this point because I remember back in my high school, my teacher had a smart board but the only way that she used it was to write on the handout she gave us so she could do it with us, which is almost exactly how she had taught her lessons beforehand which she just put on an overhead projector and filled it in with a marker.  So really, she wasn’t really using the technology to improve her lessons any differently or in a more engaging way.  So, I think teachers need to be investing more time into finding different ways to teach their lessons with technology and attend workshops or professional development events that can help achieve this.

I don’t completely agree with the author’s statement: “If you expose students to technology, they are much more ready to do these things that we think.”  I don’t agree with this statement mainly because exposure is not the problem, kids are being exposed and learning at a very young age how to use technology.  For example, Dr. Couros talked about in one of his presentations how his daughter, who I believe he said was 3 or 4, was able to make and edit a video.  Also, nowadays, if you go on YouTube, you can find young people who can edit and create videos that are up to par with the film makers who make millions doing celebrities music videos.  An example is of a 16 year old boy who dances to Beyonce’s song “Countdown.”  This boy is able to create and edit videos just as professional as famous film editors can who have had years of experience.  So, unless maybe I just misinterpreted the statement, I don’t believe that students need to be exposed, I think that teachers are the ones that need to be exposed.

One thing that the author mentioned was how a class used Photostory.  I have honestly never heard of this before and I am very interested in learning about it.  Perhaps this will be the focus of my next blog…


Here’s a link to the reading!