What an inspirational day! I must say that my first day brought tears to my eyes… well actually it was the smell in the classroom after phys-ed class that did that. Besides that, the day was phenomenal and flew by. The day started with Matthew and I getting introduced to the class routines and what we could expect the rest of the semester to look like. Shannon Zanni, our cooperating teacher, was excited to have us teach alongside her and it was clear that we all would be able to work well together.
Learning the names of our students was one of the main goals that we had for ourselves as we worked within the classroom. I think both Matthew and I were thankful that we were given a labelled seating plan diagram. Before long we were getting to know who our students are and what they like to do. The lesson that they worked on was for their career education class. They had to draw things associated with the career they want to pursue. As we walked around the classroom talking to the students and helping them on this project, we were able to get a better sense of the students’ interests. That is one of the first things Shannon told us: jump in and build relationships. Classroom management will be far more successful that way.
Another thing that Shannon pointed out about classroom management is the importance of where the desks are placed. She had her desks in what is called a double E formation. This allowed her to walk around the classroom with ease as she was instructing. If a student was not paying attention she was able to go stand by them and continue her teaching without any further interruption. Another nice thing about this seating arrangement is that it still feels collaborative. The students can easily work in groups if necessary. It is nothing at all like the tradition rows.
One of the most challenging but potentially rewarding experiences dealt with the lesson we had prepared. For our lesson we really wanted to focus on getting to know the students’ names and interests. In order to do this, we had them create decorative name plates. The way that they decorated it was to draw or write things that show who they are. They then shared it with us and the rest of the class and answered one ridiculous question that Matthew and I had prepared for them. The lesson went extremely well without too many improvements needed. However, that was probably not the most rewarding part of our teaching.
The fact that Matthew and I were able to break through a language barrier was probably the highlight of our day. In our class of twenty four, one of the students had only been in Canada for two weeks. He can speak and understand very little English and as a result it has been a great challenge for the teachers to communicate with him. Without too much effort we were able to get him to write his name on the name plate. In a later class, though, he pulled it out again. By watching he saw that other students were putting pictures and words and he understood that he was supposed to do the same – putting the things he liked. We watched him slowly try to write the word “soccer” but he got stuck. He then rummaged through his desk finding sports pamphlets. He knew where to find the word. It had to be in there. Watching him progress with that lesson was inspiring. I couldn’t imagine being in his shoes.
Overall, the day was a blast. It left me wanting to dig deeper into becoming a teacher and to look further into creating enriching lessons for my students. It was great to finally be a teacher in a school with real students. I can’t wait until next week!