Sorry it’s been so long since my last post- during my respite I graduated, went to Guatemala and Belize, attended two conferences, and started teaching at a high school summer camp (which is exhausting). Although I don’t have much time now to write (because it’s 10:47 and I still have to write my lesson plans for tomorrow) I want to briefly share some of the things I have learned in the week since I started teaching.
1) Differentiation is key! Because the kids in my classes are a mix of freshman through juniors and then junior/ seniors, I have people at all levels and need to be prepared to teach and challenge them all. Pretty much the whole first week I panicked and couldn’t figure out how to meet the needs of all my students. After getting some sleep over the weekend and doing some research I’ve put together my new plan to integrate multiple levels of instruction in my classroom:
- 1) Start with a pre assessment
- 2) Define what you want students to learn- objective
- Tier –
i. Lower levels: what’s the minimum skill students should get
ii. Upper levels: can I make it more difficult with extraneous information
3) Decide how you want them to learn it and KNOW your students
- Provide for different learning styles–
i. Visual- create charts, maps, diagram, flashcards; visualize as a picture, write out everything, read, use color coding, use multimedia resources,
ii. Auditory- listen, summarize, talk through steps, writing, oral lectures, study groups, create song/jingle, discuss/ explain to others
iii. Kinesthetic- trace words as you say them, write several times (rewrite), make study sheet, move/touch, hands on experiments, exploratory, listen to music while studying, use colors
- Formatively assess frequently! I haven’t yet figured out how to do this and cut down on grading time- perhaps I’ll try online quizzes…
2) You must teach classroom instruction! More on this to come, but I will say that iPads have their downside too (we have a classroom set for my high schoolers)- students found out the instant messaging function … so I decided it’s best to a) use iPads ONLY when necessary and beneficial to the content and b)to have one iPad per group.
3) Teaching is exhausting.
4) Allies are key- I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have Brittany to run my lessons by, ask questions, and vent to.
5) Students are just that- students. It’s my job to teach them to be the people I want to be in charge of the future. Also, they like discipline, order, and structure- it’s my job to provide this even if they seem like they don’t like it.
6) Lastly, and probably my biggest revelation is that I am an educator, not an entertainer. In what I thought was an attempt to teach my class through an inquiry approach, I started focusing on the activity- making it engaging without really teaching the content (or teaching it superficially at best). I tried to teach math so it was exciting and active and make it like science- investigative and lab-y. I realized that I needed to focus on content and let math be math. My biggest failure was that I was unhappy with my content- I wanted it to be more exciting for others. I am perfectly happy working out problems that are abstract or mindless algorithms, seeing and then working examples, problem solving, etc. I like doing that kind of thing- and instead of being excited about it and imparting that mindset onto my students, I tried to make math super hands on and something it’s not. I read somewhere, “students like feeling competent.” Being a good teacher doesn’t mean only making the lessons engaging, but helping the students gain an understanding so they feel competent, and feel like they are good learners, and feel like THEY CAN.
I was afraid I wasn’t going to be excited about teaching this week, that perhaps I had chosen the wrong career- I couldn’t have been more wrong. I just needed a good kick in the butt. This week is going so much better and I’m excited to update you all on how the summer progresses!