Teachers and Knowledge
The teacher in my grade 3 class is one of those teachers I aspire to be. Incredibly calm and collected even during the most hectic of moments! That was especially true during my visit this week, as I visited on a Friday. The students were obviously eager for the weekend, and it was difficult for them to focus during some parts in the morning. I loved seeing how the teacher approached the situation depending on the student in question. Some of the students only needed a gentle reminder, but for others they needed to switch tasks completely to become engaged again. It was excellent to see the free choice they had and how well the students could implement that when given the opportunity and trust to do so. In writing, the students were asked to describe how to make/do/create something step by step. The teacher listed a few prompts on the board but gave the students the choice to write whatever they wanted. I was lucky enough to get to conference with the students after and go through a checklist on their writing improvement. Some of the students wrote about how to carve pumpkins, how to tie a shoe, how to skateboard, how to make pancakes, or a variety of other different things. When conferencing, we never discussed steps they may have missed in their directions, spelling mistakes, or neatness. We talked only about making sure they had focused on one of the writing traits they were learning, in this case, informative writing.
This class does have quite a few students with different academic needs, and luckily there is a large support of Educational Assistants throughout the day to help pull students for body breaks, small group work, and breakout groups for certain subjects they might need assistance with. The communication was important here between the teacher and the EA, and something I was glad I got to witness because I know this is something I will face in my teaching career. The staff always seems to be working towards a common goal; how to best educate the students, no matter how diverse their needs are.
School and Community
I am fortunate enough to be in a community that I know quite well, as my placement is in my hometown where I grew up, and a place I still reside. This has its benefits, as I already have great connections within the school, but also a few downsides, as a few of the teachers that taught me are still around, which sometimes creates a different power imbalance. However I luckily had great relationships with most of my teachers, so I’m happy to have a place in my hometown. The school I am working with is a K-8 school, although when I attended it was only grades 6-8. It has been interesting to see the change and progress from when I attended, to now. The demographic of the school has quite a variety. Due to the location of the school, there is a diverse socioeconomic status among the children who attend the school, as many different neighborhoods get bused here. I have been lucky enough to be able to do some conferencing with different students in the class on some of their work and always enjoy chatting with them for a bit and hearing about what makes them excited.
I view our school division and community in high regard, and I am proud to see the dedication from the teachers around me who love their jobs and want to provide the best learning environment for all students. I feel there are many links between the school and community present, most of which is fostered by the staff. For example, while I didn’t get to stay as my placement was in the morning, on the afternoon of the same day the school had a family day in which parents were invited to come to the school and participate in activities with their children. I can remember attending similar events when I was younger. The children especially love creating links from their personal lives to school as well. Once a week in class a student is picked and asked to create a poster about themselves and their family and share on Monday mornings. The estimation jar, which I mentioned in my first week, is also something brought from a child’s home, and they are invited to share a brief story about why they chose those objects or who helped them find something. Each week has been a great experience, where I feel invited and welcomed and always look forward to going back.
Who are your learners?
I had an excellent time at my first observation which took place Monday morning. My learners are a grade 3 class. This classroom is located in my hometown in a school I attended myself, although at the time it was only a middle years school. One of the first differences I noticed is how diverse the students were! There was quite a few students who were of visible minorities, had different learning needs, and even behavioral and cognitive differences within the classroom. The inclusivity was great to see, as from my own experiences my classmates were almost always white and able bodied. Because it was a Monday, I got to see how the children interacted in their morning routines after a weekend. They seemed to have their routine memorised pretty well already, but it was lovely to see some children helping others who may not have remembered the next step. For example, I noticed one girl whispered to her desk partner to get out their agenda’s after they sat down at their desks, as the teacher had already written the agenda items on the board for students to copy, something they were expected to do without much prompting. A few kids were also eager to help others put away their coats and backpacks.
One of the students in the room is intellectually differently abled, and the rest of the students were helpful and supportive when it came to his learning. One of the first activities they did was an estimation, in which they observe a number of objects in a jar and write down how many objects they think are inside. The students let this boy have extra time observing the jar and encouraged his estimation. This experience was different from my own, as when I attended school children who were differently abled were placed in a different classroom and program, something I don’t think is beneficial to any child.
The classroom space was great. Very bright and open and everything was accessible for all children. The word wall was beneficial when the students had free write time, as I saw many of them referencing the words that were listed there. I don’t have the best memory of my classroom spaces as a child but I imagine they were pretty similar as nothing jumped out at me that was particularly different, aside from the Treaty 4 flag acknowledging that we are on Treaty 4 land. Overall I really enjoyed my first observation and am looking forward to returning!