After finishing up our technology project, I was relieved to be done pretty much everything that I had left for the school year. All of my essays were handed in, Unit Plans tidied up and presented, and homework checks for math all completed. It’s like a weight off of your shoulders, really, when you can wake up that first morning after the two-four weeks of utter torture and know that soon, soon, you will be able to relax, sleep in, and not have to worry about if you’ve forgotten that you enrolled in an online class at the beginning of the semester.
Being almost done does mean that you are not quite complete everything you have to do, and, as such, I still had one more practicum day to complete. And now, flash forward a week into the future and here we are! I have finished my practicum and am now here to bestow upon you my final reflection on the lesson I’ve learned as a part of my field experiences as an ECS 300 student.
Lets look at my goals first, shall we? At the beginning of the semester, I created three goals for myself to complete. I will now go ahead and update on my success at accomplishing said goals.
1) Speaking Concisely – I am always going to be a talker, and, you know, I don’t think that I’m all that broken up about the fact that I sometimes have too much to say. Changing to become a better educator should not mean changing the fundamentals of who I am – who you are is sort of why you choose to become a teacher in the first place. So I’m not going to rate my success based on my new found ability to stop saying words, that didn’t happen. Instead, I found that the way I accomplished this goal was much, much simpler than I gave myself credit for. Simply planning my lessons gave me enough direction to have an idea of a basic script in my head before I went into the classroom, and so I was able to speak only about the important topics at hand, and not spend too much time digressing.
Another method that seemed to be extremely effective (super effective even) was to spend a lot of the class asking the students for the information, or for their opinions. Giving the students the time to talk made it my job to simply guide the discussion and ensure correct information instead of just dictating sentence after sentence to the students.
I would say, that at the end of the day, I did quite well on the teaching side of the goal, but, when just communicating with students, it is still a struggle for me to learn to say less, and say things that are more meaningful. I tend to say “for sure” or “yes” after every comment a student makes. Working with my practicum teacher, I have started to overcome that, but I am not all the way there, it is still something I must work on.
2) Balancing Personal and Professional – I think that it’s always going to be difficult for me to distinguish between personal and professional. I am always fond of getting to know my students, and I always love telling stories. But with my practicum teacher this year, he never gave any notes on me losing my professionalism, and he never had a problem with anything I said. I did have a student at the end of the placement give me a gift, which I was wary about accepting, but my teacher said that it was okay to accept gifts, so I am now the proud owner of a homemade scarf thing.
I had a talk with my teacher at one point in which we discussed professionalism with students and we noted that, at the end of the day, it is about respect. Do the students still respect you? Even if you are fun, and like to tell stories, will the students ultimately do what you wish? And I think that, with this class, I did accomplish that. I had a few students who did try and test me, and, in the end, I did get them to listen to me and do what they were supposed to do. Of course, every classroom culture is going to be different, so it depends on what class I get next, but I do think that I balanced the scales quite nicely for this class in particular, and I’ll have to handle the future as it comes.
3) Awareness – as always, this is the area in which I fail the most. As evidenced by my stock phrases I often use, I do have a hard time being in the moment and not just playing a character as a teacher. I don’t have much to say here, other than I made an effort to try and make meaningful comments, but I don’t think I made all that much progress in this area. So, if I were to choose something to focus more wholeheartedly on in the future, this would be it. The problem is that because I forget to live in the moment, I forget that that was my initial goal. A weird, self-fulfilling prophecy. Sigh.
All in all, I think I had a pretty amazing practicum experience. My practicum teacher taught me to add a SWBAT (Students Will Be Able To) to my lesson plans, and that has really helped streamline the process. I had never really made a lesson plan before that I have taught, so this semester was extremely useful in forming how I like to make my lesson plans. I still have some work to do in the area of making them more detailed. The problem is that I know what I mean, so I think “good enough, done for the day” and move on. I need to spend more time considering the substitute teacher that might need to follow my lesson.
I was fortunate to work with very amazing student this semester, they were all extremely kind and hardworking, and I will miss teaching them a lot. I also lament their future drama education, I feel like their is either an abundance of arts education in a school, or an extreme lack and there really is no in between. The students were extremely fortunate in their musical education having both a band program and extensive music work with the arts ed consultant, but had hardly had any drama time before we came in. And one of the biggest reasons they were sad to see us go was the fact that they would no longer be learning about drama. But, maybe their High School will be awesome. And it’s not like I blame the school, it is a subject that tends to be written off – it isn’t seen as integral to students’ education, so it is put on the back burner.
For my future as an educator, I would really, really like the chance to teach some math, honestly. I know that it will happen soon, as I am a math major, but it feels like it is my major and it is the only real class I haven’t had any experience in teaching. I am fortunate for my time teaching other subjects, but it will be exciting to see if what I have learned can transfer easily into math education or if some things need to be adjusted.
I think my biggest goal will be to learn to implement the way I teach drama into the other subjects. I have been a drama teacher for over five years now, and I have a very distinct way in which I act as a drama teacher. Even my practicum teacher noticed that I am more confident and more prepared when teaching drama, and it’s something I want to capture for other subjects. Mostly because I have so much fun teaching drama that I want to infuse the rest of my teaching career with that level of enjoyment. Without the forced neutrals and blocking disasters.