Field Journal #1

First impressions of the school were great!  My cooperating teacher is Denny Park.  He is easy going and easy to talk to so I am excited to work with him and see what kind of feedback he will give.  The classroom is set up for group work: there are three sets of six desks and two sets of five desks.  The classroom is nothing special or state-of-the-art but Denny has made it his own.  The class consists of twenty eight students, all varying in age, size, sex, ethnicity, abilities, and skill sets.  There is one student who has mild autism and I got to work with him. Working with him showed me that I have to remember that even light touches on the shoulders may annoy students some students and making pencil marks on their work papers may be an agitator.  There is also a student who is currently doing math and reading at a grade 2 level.  She is recently from India and is having difficulties catching up (teachers are suspicious that she may have some cognitive problems).  She does require a lot of one-on-one work, but I think she has grown dependent on it so, while I want to be available to her to help, I need to be able to tell her to try things on her own.

The day itself was also pretty smooth.  My partner Sébastien and I introduced ourselves to the kids before they ran off to the library for Book Exchange.  While they were in the library I took the opportunity to get to know the Teacher Librarian, Ms. Peyton, and how she got to where she is.  Then the kids had gym which we were encouraged to participate.  We played a little ice breaker game that allowed us to get to know their preferences and hobbies.  After that was bench ball – it was nothing special but it was a great time of getting to know the students’ name and spend time with them in a relaxed environment.  After gym was math, but Denny wasn’t teaching a formal lesson that day – it was Explore 4 day where students break into groups and work on the math homework for that week. Some students work closely with Denny, some do math exercises on the computers, some work independently, and others work in small groups. Some students like Angel, who work best by themselves, remained that way the whole class while the groups changed from station to station.  Students did what they needed to do so long as they were not disrupting others.  During this time, I walked around and helped anyone stuck on any questions. I loved the challenge of having to think on my feet and coming up with inventive ways to describe math concepts so that it would make sense to the student and be easy for them to remember. The students told me they understood and there were a few who had “aha!” moments so I think I was successful.  Unfortunately there is no way to tell if I helped them only for that moment or for the whole concept…

And just before Sébastien and I left, Denny talked to us about having us teach lessons. As I am a math minor, I will be teaching the brand new concept of Coordinates to the grade sevens next Wednesday because that Tuesday they have a test to finish up the last unit – so I am starting a unit brand new!! Denny gave me the textbook but encouraged me not to follow it as he never does and to come up with intriguing ways to teach coordinates.  Denny said that as some point during our time at W. F. Ready we will both have a chance to teach our majors, but for now I am very excited to get started on this math lesson plan.

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