As I reflect on my second week [first full week] of student teaching in Mason City High School, there’s two big things I’ve noticed.
- Students all learn differently and each class has a distinct personality.
- Just because a class is extremely quiet the first week, doesn’t mean it will stay that way.
The goal of my first week of student teaching was to get my English 10 students involved and engaged with classroom material. As I reflect on this past week, my goal has completely shifted. Now, I’m trying to refocus my students and reel them back in. First, the students were so quiet you could hear the cars passing by the outside window. I would ask a question, and they would stare at me with blank, uninterested faces. I knew they knew the answers–half the time they had the answers on their papers! When I called on them, they would respond. But I would basically have to pull the answers out of them. It was torture!
Second week rolled around, and I started to integrate more group and partner work. I started to talk to students without the whole-group discussions, and this seemed to bring them out of their shells. I asked them to do small whole-group discussions on easy topics–topics I knew they understood and had answers to. Slowly but surely they came out of their shells.
By Thursday, the classroom was full-blown loud! At first, this wasn’t a big deal. I was being lenient on disruptions and speaking out of turn because that meant the students were actually engaging! I could forgo the idea of a ‘perfect classroom’ if that meant the kids were actually speaking! However, by Friday, the environment was getting a little too chaotic.
My goal as I head into my third week is to find a way to reel these students back in. A mix between large and small group, talking to them in a discussion-based format mixed with individual work, having tasks for them to focus on so they aren’t bothering their neighbors.
The first thing I’m implementing into the English 10 classrooms is Task Lists and Work Days. These will allow students to work on assignments at their own pace and individually. It will also give me an opportunity to talk to each student, address any discipline/behavior management issues, and do a informal, formative assessment of where they are with their learning. I hope this helps to solve some of the issues I’ve seen with loudness or time off-task. I’m hoping for an even better week next week!