My first day was AMAZING! The hosting teacher was so positive and provided lots of opportunities for us to interact with the students. We were with several teachers during the afternoon because our teacher was on a prep time for part of it. The students were super welcoming and really open to chatting about school, what they were doing, and asking questions about me and why I was there. I really enjoyed the teacher’s teaching style. It was very interactive with discussion from the children. He brought up a video that the students wanted to see and related it to the topic of the afternoon. The students seemed engaged, interacting with each other and accepting of each other and their differences.
This week we our hosting teacher gave the class a short talk on what ecosystems were, gave them a list of ecosystems, then put the students in groups. He said to choose an ecosystem, and animal in that ecosystem, then explore all about that animal and what they need to survive in that ecosystem. In the end they are going to put together all their ecosystems and make a zoo. It was great to see a framework given, and then the students empowered to explore and learn in that framework, with support if needed. At the end of the project they all learn from each other’s ecosystems. The teacher really seems to try different ways of learning and knowing in the classroom.
The classroom teacher also really set the tone at the beginning of the year with a talk about what is fair and what is equal with all the students. They seem quite accepting of the different expectations and privileges for each student.
Such a different day, and so much fun! Today our class of Grade 6 students took the afternoon to put together light switches. Each child had the pieces needed (screwdrivers, wires, plug in, and light bulb base) then they followed a step by step how to on the front screen. The students loved it so much, one student said, “no offence, but I love this a lot more than lectures.”
I was able to spend the last half of the afternoon in with a grade 1 class. We went to the library and read books. I was So impressed with the selection of book in other languages! They had between 12-16 bins of books in different languages and some children ran straight to one of these bins to read in their own language.
The teacher had one student in a previous year who identified as a different gender and was struggling a bit in how to live that out. When the other students noticed her using the gender-neutral bathroom, it brought up some questions. She brought out a book about a red crayon with a blue label, and read that to the class. It really seemed to connect with the student and all of the students seemed to understand, more clearly, how that student felt and opened up some great discussions.
We came into the classroom that day and the room was set up different with groupings of desks instead of rows. Our hosting teacher showed us the project the students had done to teach persuasion from the outcomes. Each student had drawn or written up something that they wanted to see or see different in the classroom and had done their best to persuade the teacher that it was a good idea. He then took the students presentations and implemented some of them. It is such a great way of giving the students power in the classroom and having them feel like their ideas matter and can make a difference. The students were all keen to talk about it and other ideas that they would like to do. I could tell that they felt that they had some say in the classroom. What an amazing example of learning, meeting the outcomes, and empowering the students to continue to have a say in the world around them.
I was able to spend time in the Grade 1 classroom this week. The students are so sweet and welcoming. They were working on a theme of holidays. It was wonderful to see the teacher honoring all of the children in the classroom in the season coming up to Christmas by talking about the holidays that each child celebrated. She had sent a worksheet home with the students for them to fill out with their parents, asking: what holiday they celebrated, what were some of their traditions on that holiday, what food they ate, and what decorations were used. They talked about the different holidays as a class and the children each made their own little booklet about the holiday that they celebrate. It was wonderful planning by the teacher to learn more about her students and what matters to them, as well as providing an opportunity for the students to learn about each other and the traditions that they have.
This field experience was better than I could have hoped. The teacher was welcoming and quite happy to share knowledge and show us the work his students had done. The students were excited to see us each week and loved having us help them work through their assignments. The school was excellent and the staff very friendly and happy to talk to about their school and things that they are doing to support all of their students. It was great to see some of the supports that teachers have access to such as Learning Resource Teachers, Professional Development, and on-line resources such as teachers for teachers4teachers, and educational YouTube videos. I really appreciated how much the students were given power and the ability to be heard in the classroom. Their growth in confidence and willingness to share their knowledge with each other and us was noticeable in our short time being a part of their classroom. It was also good to see how inclusive the school was, and the work the teachers put in to valuing each child, their differences, and similarities.
It is so wonderful to be able to have a field experience our first year of education for many reasons, but one definite benefit is that it makes all of the classes more relevant. I am more interested in learning about: movement education, tricks of long division, how to interpret and relate stories to real life, and struggles that students and adults may be facing and how we can support them. It really brings into focus how helpful these things can be because I have the faces of the students and their excitement to learn right in front of me. They are a powerful motivation to become the best teacher that I can be. They motivate me to learn more, work hard, and never stop caring.
This experience has also changed how I look at the world around me and notice equalities and inequalities and look to see what I can do about it. I am looking at the world around me with more questions. Where before it was simply the way it was, now I question if should be that way and what we might change to make things better. I want students to look at the world with eyes that see the possibilities of what might be and not settle for what is. I am so excited for the next field experience!