A successful Mississippi Teacher Corps Volleyball Championship Series 2008.
A successful Mississippi Teacher Corps Volleyball Championship Series 2008.
Start of summer school = essentially CLUELESS on how to write a lesson plan, how to deliver a lesson plan, how to assess if the students understood the lesson at all... CLUELESS on everything that was TEACHING.
I took a video of myself teaching, I watched it, and I've got 3 comments:
The numero uno thing I need to improve on... tough call.
Biology I has been rocking all summer long. Allll summmmer longggg we've been a pretty sweet class. Different people from different places with different teaching styles. But somehow it has worked. For the month of July our team teacher has been awesome. She doesn't pants pop, but she does know her stuff... some key points I have taken from her expertise:
1. BE ORGANIZED or figure out how to GET ORGANIZED. There is a binder that sits on her desk in the Biology I classroom. It is approximately eight (8) inches thick. Eight inches. It is full of every lesson she taught throughout the year. Every worksheet she handed out. Every activity her students did. Every test she gave. It is eight inches of GREATNESS and I dream of the day I can have a binder put together so well and full of so much information. Eight inches thick! Picture that!
2. HAMMER IT HOME. Go over a small tidbit of knowledge/a specific concept/a fact/a diagram over and over and over and over and over. Go over the information you really want them to know over and over and over and over. Hammer it home. Make sure they get it. Over and over and over. It might feel like you are being a broken record. The students may be irritated by the end of the day. But you can rest assured after a lesson like that, the students will know exactly what you taught them.
3. UTILIZE YOUR RESOURCES. The internet is full of great activities, great lessons and great information (although, not ALL of it is great). Don't be afraid to use some of those already-planned and perfected activities that are posted on the web. Don't be afraid to show a clip of a video to help you teach your lesson.
Organize. Hammer. Utilize.
28 June 2008
26 June 2008
24 June 2008
I hope that in one year I can provide as many helpful hints and wisdom as the second-years have provided for me... they have been a huge part of why this month has run so smoothly and with as many laughs and successes as it has. So, while I am a little sad the 'old and wise' will be leaving for the month of July, I am extremely appreciative of all they have done for us, and all they will continue to do for the first-years/me (like... if I have to call my mentor up during the month of July to do some brainstorming... I know he'll be more than thrilled to talk cell biology with me...).
Some of the best/most memorable advice I have received:
- Get organized EARLY. Know your procedures, rules, filing system and first week of lesson plans before the first week of school. (I have received this advice, and put it on my To-Do list... but have not gotten further than that yet... am I doing a good job following those words of wisdom? It's still June, gimme a break...)
- Be an "alpha male" in front of the classroom... turn that smile into a snarl and make the kids shake in their Air Jordan sneakers when they see you walk down the hall... or at least remind them of who is boss occasionally...(= classroom management.)
- Make sure your lessons fit your personality and teaching style. As much as I would LOVE to be able to do the infamous PANTS POP (possibly moving down into a football squat immediately after), it does not work with my character (nor my pants...). Watching other teachers has been beneficial in that it can start the gears turning on new ideas for how material can be presented, or ways of dealing with specific classroom management issues, but those new ideas and management strategies have to be modified to fit MY personality. The students can tell if you are fake. The students would be able to tell that the PANTS POP is not my signature move...
- Utilize the different forms of technology available. If an overhead projector is available, don't spend half the class period writing notes up on the whiteboard...I am terrible with technology, but have been working on it...
HUGE THANK YOU to all the second-years, third-years and other mentors for their patience and their wisdom this past month. Thank you to the Biology I mentors who a) are full of great advice and judging eyes b) have used those judging eyes to help me improve myself/my teaching and c) make the classroom fun for the students and the teachers.
20 June 2008: Reflections on classroom questioning techniques
Summer school is not a completely realistic practice arena for how the classroom will look and operate come fall. However, it is a great first step on a journey of, no doubt, one thousand miles. The small class size and, literally, zero classroom management issues (thus far) create an ideal classroom. This has its plus and minuses. On the positive side, new teachers get a chance to ease themselves into the whole process- learning to create lesson plans, keep “teacher hours” and effectively deliver those lessons without any other distractions (such as breaking up fist fights, dealing with class-clowns and peeling spit balls out of your hair...). Having an ideal classroom also allows for some trial-and-error in teaching styles, questioning techniques and utilizing the overhead the most effectively (it's a skill that is harder than it looks). However, being eased into the whole process allows a person to feel comfortable, and relaxed; feeling relaxed is the LAST thing a new teacher should feel.
We have learned about various questioning techniques to use while teaching. Without worrying about spit balls globing in your hair, a person feels free to test out some of those techniques we have read about. I have not tested out all of them. And I am not sure I will test out all of them during the summer school months. Yet, just being able to think about the questioning techniques and how they could be applicable to a lesson plan, or how they could positively affect the dynamic of the classroom is helpful in itself.
There are the “Four S's” that serve as alternatives to questioning: Statements, Student Questions, Signals, and Silence. Essentially, they are self-explanatory. Make statements about what you think or reflect on what the student thinks with a statement. Encourage student questioning. Use signals such as gestures or head-nodding while student it talking. Say nothing after a student answers to allow for other students to form an opinion or a comment on the topic.
I like the Four S's of questioning techniques because it puts a lot of the discussion on the students and then I get to see what they really know, as opposed to what they think I want to hear. By letting the silence hang in the air after a question is posed or an answer is suggested, it gives other students more time to just think. So far, it seems that the students are taking those silences or simple gestures (without comment) as a hint that I am looking for more from them. When I do not immediately respond with a “Great! Next question...” I have found that the students think a little bit longer about the question I originally asked.
Now, I've just got to work on forming better questions that result in the sort of thinking that is beneficial for the students' learning. This is something that I am working on, and watching other teachers “perform” has been hugely helpful.