I once again find myself writing Friday’s reflection late on a Saturday. It’s hard to sit down and write on Friday after a full week. Especially after the first full week.
Yesterday was pretty rough. I had some review activities planned to help my students prepare for the test on Monday but it was clear that I did not do enough planning. I had a matrix exercise picked out using the medal counts from the Rio Olympics that I abandoned midway through the very first attempt in block one and moved on to the next thing (the transition was smoother than I am making it sound here once I decided to cut my losses but it still wasn’t pretty). I didn’t even try it in the next two blocks.
Sometimes I believe I am overconfident once I have an idea for a task or a lesson. The idea comes to me and I think “Oh yeah! That’ll be great. It covers this and we can practice that and we can discuss this,” but my procrastination / overconfidence in my abilities sometimes sabotages this.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I am neglecting my job. I just mean that what I think is sufficiently prepared for a lesson is sometimes nowhere near it. I underestimate the preparation required and I overestimate how much the students are going to latch on to without some more serious scaffolding.
A word problem sheet I had made to help them practice in groups was a prime example of this. I had written the problem thinking I would give them time to attempt them in groups and as I was reading it out I realized there was far more concepts I could have teased out of the simple word problem if I had simply taken the time to think about them and write them up. I could have had a sheet that was only ONE word problem, but had 6-7 questions. Not necessarily breaking the problem down for the students–although some of it was that–but helping them see all the different things they could consider. I was doing this on the fly because it only occurred to me as we were working through it. This is what I mean. I am overly reliant on what I realize I could do on the fly. I’ve done it before, it happens often, and I’ve come to expect it.
I need to get out of the habit.
As a counterpoint, sometimes when I do sit and think through a certain activity, questions and ideas simply don’t come to me unless I am in the heat of the moment and the responses of my students inspire me. They ask a question or do something I didn’t expect. In these cases I value my ability to think on my feet. But there is an aspect of careful planning to teaching that I need to get better at. Hey, it’s only day 8. I’ll get better at it.
In less philosophical and more practical terms, my last block was a near circus yesterday. It was the last class on the last day of the first full week. I had to redirect and redirect and redirect. It was rough. But it was better than the experiences I had in student teaching. I still have miles to go when it comes to classroom discipline (more than any other aspect of teaching) but I do think that I have improved over my first attempts fresh out of college.
I think I will need to be a little more pro-active, not just in my last block, but all of them. My middle block, which is the most responsive, also had some problems in the middle of class. I had to pull students out of class for a moment and ask them to tone down the energy because while I appreciated their enthusiasm they were disrupting the rest of the class. They responded well but I don’t think I should have let it get to that point.
Well, that’s all I can remember from Friday right now and it will do. Thanks for reading.