Week #1 Reflection
Gah! I did it. It happened. I was finally in a classroom! Of course I’ve been in many classrooms before, both as a teacher and as a student, but never as a UBC B.Ed teacher candidate. This has been YEARS in the making.
My day started off lumpy with a trip to the hospital. No joke. It was not the ideal start to my practicum, but couldn’t be helped. After my procedure, I ate for the first time in 36 hours and ran off to my practicum a few hours late.
As soon as I arrived, Pat brought me upstairs and I met the kids. Aww… they are a sweet and rowdy bunch! I was so flustered that I introduced myself as Shalon, and then one girl asked, “But what do we call you?” and I said “Ms. Sims.” Haha…
When I arrived, Pat, my mentor teacher, had just come back from a long walk with her class and the other class in her “cohort,” another 6/7 split taught by Rosella. Rosella and Pat co-teach much like in a middle years school. Pat teaches socials and Rosella teaches science. Pat teaches grade 6 math, and Rosella teaches grade 7 math. They get together regularly to discuss their lesson planning.
Right away Pat explained that this is an extraordinary year and a lot of things have changed about her teaching practice. She’s not being as strict or organized as she usually is. Everyone is stressed out so she is being more relaxed with her lesson planning and her expectations of students.
Because of Covid, the students must only associate with students in their cohort. All lunch and recess times are staggered, and students from different cohorts must use different fields to play in. Luckily there are three fields at the school.
Getting to know the students
Right away, I started circulating, being friendly, trying to make connections as they worked on writing homework. Coincidentally they were setting academic goals for the year, so I was able to walk around and introduce myself to most of them and ask about their goals as a way of getting to know them. They had all chosen similar goals: get better at writing, get better at math, come to school on time. That kind of thing. Being a 6/7 split, there was a huge range of writing skill and comprehension. Some students didn’t even know how to answer a basic question like, “How will you achieve your goal?”
What I noticed about the classroom right away:
- The students were primarily from immigrant families, but Canadian born or primarily raised in Canada, so not EAL
- They were much younger than I’d imagined they’d be
- A few students were really dominating the classroom with their behaviour
- Some students seemed particularly withdrawn and quiet. One of them refused to talk to me.
- There were a lot of books everywhere, indicating Pat was invested in language arts
- The classroom was decorated colourfully
- There was an AMAZING VIEW!
- How could the goal setting exercise have been done in a way that all students would know how to answer the questions?
- How can I get to know the students when I’m not the teacher and just observing?
- How can I make them feel comfortable around me? I remember Leyton getting down to eye level and really making contact. Should I do something like that?
After lunch, Rosella taught a science lesson about ‘force’ to the entire cohort and then sent the kids off with an activity to use pieces of paper to create helicopter blades and to determine what would happen when they adjusted the blades in various ways.
What happened next was mayhem, but the kids loved it. Each kid was given a piece of paper and instructions they had promptly forgotten. I wondered around, repeating instructions and trying to keep them on task performing experiments and capturing observations in their field books.
- During the lecture portion of the lesson, Rosella often asked the kids to use their thumbs to indicate if they understood or not
- Rosella stood at the front and reviewed the materials, asking questions. Sometimes it was difficult to get students to answer.
- Students had worksheets and it was their job to listen to Rosella and then write in the correct answers on their sheets
- The kids seemed engaged at first, but after 30 minutes of this, they stopped paying attention
- How could the lesson be more engaging?
- Did the students understand the lesson?
- How does the activity afterward connect to the lesson? This wasn’t clear to me.
- How could the students have been better prepared for the activity?
End of the day
Pat and I chatted while the kids worked on a previous assignment, and she showed me some of the technology she uses with her classroom, including Microsoft Teams and Class Dojo. This was very exciting and something I’m really looking forward to learning about from her.
The best part of the day came at the very end. When the bell rang, all the kids filed out and one of them turned around and said, “Bye Ms. Sims.”