The last couple of weeks have been very busy, but still extremely enjoyable. I am now teaching three classes-one Algebra II class and two Geometry classes, I have been trying to stay ahead in planning – which has proven to be quite a challenge, I am volunteering with one of the athletic teams (Don’t worry College of Education–I’m not doing it full time), I had my first student that completely bombed a test, and I’ve made plenty of mistakes. With each of these challenges, though, I have learned. I find it interesting that the College of Education here at UA has made it a point to promote the idea of “Teachers as Lifelong Learners”.
I have found that teaching a second geometry class has benefited me in more ways than one. Each day that we, as student teachers, get to teach a class is of benefit because we have so little experience. However, this added course has been a blessing because it falls before the geometry class that I have already been working with-and which has certainly been a challenge in many ways. The opportunity to hold the same lesson prior to holding it with my other geometry class (which on the whole is usually a little bit slower) helps me with what questions to anticipate, what analogies worked/didn’t work, confidence in presenting the material, and most importantly what I may be able to add or subtract from my lesson that is necessary/unnecessary. Every minute seems vital during most class sessions, and so this “warm-up” class certainly helps combat the problem of time.
Planning is becoming a bear. What I would imagine is the case with many student teachers/young teachers, I am struggling to find the time for it. Staying ahead of my lessons has been my biggest challenge thus far. I actually enjoy planning for these lessons, but I feel that I am unable to put as much creativity into the lessons that I would like to because I have to move on to the next plan. I’m not saying that I don’t have bright spots in my lessons; but surely, once I have taught for a year or two, I will be able to get more creative on a regular basis.
My biggest surprise came after the first geometry test that we gave. I had some students do very well, others average, and some poorly. Surely, after teaching a group of students for a while the teacher can tell who the obvious standouts are and who needs a little more help. However, the situation that I am referring to was dealing with the ever dreaded “student who is very capable, but unwilling.” After receiving advice from my mentor teacher and then talking with the student, I believe that I am going to be seeing better results from him in my class. There will be plenty of time for goofiness in my classroom, but not if it keeps that student or other students from fulfilling their responsibility of performing well. I don’t believe that a teacher should ever try to stifle a student’s personality, but I also don’t believe that a student should ever stifle his/his classmate’s ability to learn. Something has to be and will be done about that. Fortunately, my mentor teacher was there to guide me, as I realize that I am not the strongest in the area of student discipline-though I am coming to realize certain things that have to be done by the teacher, and feel that I am improving.
I’ve misspoken plenty of times in class, called students by the wrong name, given the wrong homework (i.e. the odds instead of the evens), etc. Not making a big deal out of these small issues has worked well for me, as students begin to realize that the teacher is the same as them or any of their peers. Not making a big deal out of it will also bode well for us as teachers because we already tend to have a lot on our plate-stressing over something as minute as a mistake is not going to benefit us in any way.
I would expect my fellow student teachers to be experiencing the same challenges and excitements as I am here in Germany. Would I be correct?