What I Have Learnt (So far…)

Here is a list composed of some things I have learnt in such a small period of time. As I continue on with my education, I expect this list to grow drastically.

I have learnt…

  • The importance of structure in the classroom (ex: having the same routine for students for when they come in from lunch recess)
  • The incorporation of different types of media in a lesson (ex: using both a book and a short video to tell a story)
  • Learning environments are constantly changing (ex: when I went to school we had rows of desks and now desks are arranged in groups and some students have floor desks)
  • Planning for activities students enjoy (ex: if students want to try volleyball, let them because it is what they want to do) but making revisions so students do not struggle.
  • As a teacher, your mind is constantly working
  • Educators should incorporate different ways of knowing by using different sensory formats of teaching (ex: listening, seeing, touching, tasting, doing…)
  • Students need breaks from learning so incorporating a muster break in between topics helps students regain focus
  • The importance of antiracist education versus multicultural education
  • Teachers may struggle with incorporating and teaching diversity but can rely on fellow colleagues for support

On-Going Growth and Learning

Throughout ECS 100 and other education classes, I believe I have grown. To begin, I would like to point out that I am used to mastering a skill immediately, but I quickly realized teaching is not that. Soon into the field experience, I found out that teacher is not a mastery skill but instead on-going development with more always to be learnt and improved on. The first time I was privileged to lead a group of students was in phys-ed class with volleyball stations. I was at the station teaching setting, where each time a new group came around, I found myself improving my explanation skills even though I have coached volleyball for 5 years and have explained the technique many times. I was surprised by how much I was learning as students would explain what I told them in a way they understood which made 100% sense to me. I soon realized there are multiple ways to teach a lesson, such as setting and you have to base it off of your learners (One student compared the pushing of the ball forward to pushing a box onto a high shelf which I never considered before).

Another area of growth is the realization the students are as much of teachers as I am. A moment I can think of is when I was leading a Halloween bookmark making activity. I thought I knew how to teach the lesson perfectly, but instead, I was educated. During the activity, which involved the folds, a couple of students used the handle end of the scissors to flatten out the edges. By doing this, the folding went by much smoother so I told the rest of the class to use this technique which eventually led to the craft being a success. I interpret this to be a pivotal moment because as a student, I never considered how we taught our teachers but then when it happened to me, I realized students influence and educate their teachers as well.

The third area of growth which I will openly admit I did struggle with at the beginning was the communication of the learners. I am a shy person when I am around people whose names I do not know, and then for field experience, I was put in this exact situation. I quickly realized I would have to take initiative to ask students names (or pay attention to what other people were calling them) to talk to them. As I progressed with learning student names, I found myself being able to talk more freely with learners. Part of the reason why I struggled with communicating with students before I knew their names is because I find that helping a person or simply conversing without knowing their name to be very impersonal. As a teacher, we should not give students an impersonal feeling as we learnt in the discussion panel, the most important thing for teachers is to create a healthy relationship with learners which would not happen if the conversation felt impersonal. After learning names and form teacher-student relations, I found myself engaging with students in their assignments by asking them questions and helping them along the way. I also realized the students were more open to talk to me, with some discussing the results of their hockey games or their latest dance moves they have learnt. I was very surprised when the shyest kid in the class, came up and asked me for help. I was humbled by this simple act because this student rarely approached anyone. This was the exact moment I came to the realization of the importance of relationships with students.

Another area of growth I am realizing and still working very hard on is showing emotions. I have been told I do not show emotion a lot of the time. At the beginning of the field experience, I found myself not showing emotion. I saw this through pictures our cooperating teacher had taken of us working with students. These pictures inspired me to work on showing emotions (mostly positive emotions such as smiling). As time progressed, I found myself smiling in the classroom more often, which often was reflected back with smiles on students’ faces. This area of growth still needs to improve a lot but I am working on it by attempting to show emotions when speaking to friends and peers.

Additionally, I found growth as a future educator with communicating with other teachers. As the school I was in, some staff did not have a welcoming vibe. I found this difficult to engage in conversation and ask questions as some staff seemed unapproachable. Throughout my education, I am used to being able to approach staff since some are family friends or are coaches of mine so they always had a welcoming vibe surrounding them. I did not talk to any staff members at the beginning of the experience but towards the end, I found I was talking with staff more. I found discourse was often engaged around a common topic such as a student we both helped or an assignment students were working on. I talked to a couple of Teaching Assistants which I found interesting as I learnt their roles in the school were very important. For example, I never would have guessed a T.A.’s job would be to monitor a student with diabetes, but it is one of their jobs. I learnt to be a T.A. is a very stressful job as they are making sure the student’s insulin levels do not spike or drop and without them, a teacher would be very stressed. As I continue my education, I have to make goals for when I go out into the field. An example of a goal may be “engage in a conversation with a teacher that is not your cooperating teacher once a week” which will help with my professional communication skills.

Lastly, at the beginning of my field experience, I was scared to take initiative. I was afraid of overstepping the cooperating teacher’s boundaries by telling students to stay focused on the task at hand. As time progressed, I found myself reminding students to keep on track without being afraid to tell them as our cooperating teacher mentioned it was good we were reminding them of what to do. I consider this growth because I was afraid to do this, but in the end, I did this without being afraid.

Overall, I am able to say I have grown as an educator throughout my experience in the field. While I only talked about a few growths of which I am able to recall, I am positive there are many other areas of growth I have not even considered. I also realized as an educator, there is always room for more growth and I will continue growing throughout every year of my education and career.

Goals

Here is a list of some of the goals I want to accomplish that will help me be successful in my education and as a future educator.

Goal: To be less shy

How I will accomplish it: Next semester, initiate conversations with other people in my class instead of waiting for someone else to initiate conversation

Goal: To have assignments done a week before they are due

How I will accomplish it: At the beginning of next semester, I can write down on my calendar the days I will work on the assignment.

Goal: Not get distracted when doing homework or textbook readings

How I will accomplish it: I will find a quiet place to work with no distractions (such as the University of Regina Library) and I will put my cell phone away. I will schedule mental breaks every hour where I can play on my phone for 10-15 minutes and then put it away and go back to work.

Goal:  Become more familiar with technology

How I will accomplish it: If a teacher gives an option on an assignment such as write an essay or create another representation of the assignment, I will not pick the essay. I will only pick the essay option if I am unable to brainstorm any other possible ideas.

Goal: Stay positive during the semester

How I will accomplish it: If I am feeling overwhelmed, I will try to find a good book to read (not a textbook), go to the gym, or grab my camera and go take pictures around the city. These would help me feel less stressed as they are a few of my favourite activities to do and will make me less negative throughout the semester.

This is one of my all-time favourite photos. It is also very special to me because it is of my parents.

Treasures

Here is a glimpse of some of the treasures so far in my journey!

Below are 3 pictures of journal entries from students who wrote a journal theme of “What future advice do you have for Miss. Lang and Miss. Schmidt for when they are teachers?”. Their advice is definitely something I will always cherish and remember.

Also, here is the final comments from the teacher who kindly allowed us in her classroom. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

 

Complexities within Teaching and Learning

From the multiple discussion in ECS 100, there was one idea which bothered me. The idea that the number of students who go to university is actually very small, yet the school system educates students to continue their academic studies, mostly for university. This idea bothered me because I thought part of the purpose of schools was to educate students so they may be successful in their further studies, yet this only pertains to a small number of students.

This idea had me thinking of the curriculum. The curriculum, for the most part, focuses on core subjects such as math, English, social, and science which does share a part for other work areas but does not lead to success for every student. The notion of which every student is to succeed in education seems interesting to me. If we want every student to succeed, why would we not educate them on skills that pertain to every student such as how to take out a loan and how to manage finances? As an educator, I can try to attempt to add additional classes to the curriculum such as classes involving life skills, which could be offered at multiple schools.

Another complexity with teaching is gaining student trust. Some students may come from families or countries where life was not easy (ex: abuse or war) so for the student to trust you, it may be difficult. As a teacher, you will have to be cautious of your actions so the student has no reason not to trust you. For example, you may have to give the student space until they warm up to you even though it will be difficult.

A complexity related to learning may be engaging the students. From my ECS 100 field experience, I found captivating the attention of all learners is difficult. This is due to not every student learns the same way, some students may be ahead of their classmates, and some students are simply not engaged with the material. As an educator, it is up to you to capture all the learners’ attention and teach lessons in multiple ways so every student is given the opportunity to learn. Also, if students are not finding the material exciting, yet it needs to be taught, it is up to the educator to act enthusiastic about the material even if it is not. In conclusion, there are many complexities surrounding teaching.

Lastly, I found the teaching strategies the ECS 100 textbook discuss, are better to be witnessed in the classroom versus being read. To learn skills such as classroom management, the textbook went into grave detail which honestly confused me. Then, as I observed my teacher in the field, I quickly learnt what classroom management was. It is:

  • Making sure every student is paying attention
  • Allowing an adequate amount of time for students to grab materials, complete assignments, read, and etc…
  • Having supplies ready for a lesson
  • Having lessons prepared
  • Creating posters on the wall for students to reference
  • and so much more!

In conclusion, I feel for future educators to learn how to teach, it is better to learn from the field than from a textbook.