Last week Sébastien, Mr. Park, and I decided that this week would be an observational week. As Sébastien and I have not yet had an opportunity to watch Mr. Park teach a formal lesson (the first week he only taught one class and that period turned out to be a work period…), we wanted to make sure that we would have an opportunity to watch him give a methodically planned lesson. However, that did not happen today either. Mr. Park had intended to do a Health lesson with the kids but then the class got sidetracked asking Sébastien about his experience with working in the military.
What is interesting is that a lot of what the students have been learning is applicable from subject to subject. For ELA they’ve been reading the book Shattered by Eric Walters which deals with a soldier who participated in committing a genocide, in Health they’ve been studying the “Hate Pyramid” that deals with avoiding bad relationships, in Social they are looking into “Power Hierarchies” in society, and in Science they are learning about the impact our actions have on each other and the environment. And, to top it all off, this has all been timed to go along with Remembrance Day. So when Sébastien talked to the kids today about his experience with the military, the students had a lot of background knowledge to draw from to form questions. Some asked questions were “Have you ever seen something so scary that you had night terrors?” (as the character in their novel did), and “What do you think is more important to our country: politicians or soldiers?”, and “If you give orders to your cadets, who do you get your orders from?” and so on. This conversation went on for over a half-hour – hence why we did not get to see Mr. Park teach the Health lesson. However, Mr. Park was ecstatic that the kids were so engaged with the conversation and was happy that they had that kind of opportunity to talk and learn about the power hierarchies and the relationships within the military and how the soldiers prepare to fight in wars. And I must agree. A large percentage of the class was constantly asking questions and listening intently to what Sébastien had to say.
After the conversation and after recess the kids had a French test so we ventured to another classroom to either lend a hand or to observe how different teachers set up their classrooms to create different learning environments. We ended up in Clinton’s Grade 4 classroom. We were each given one student at a time to read with, one-on-one. First I had a little boy, Lucas, who is a “high risk” student, meaning he is easily frustrated and often takes his anger out on his classmates in a harmful way. He and I read a Star Wars book in the library. He was a task trying to keep him focused on reading because he just wanted to chat about everything he knew about Star Wars. I allowed him to talk freely when he was expanding on or explaining what he had just read – otherwise, I had to keep tapping the page, telling him that I was curious what the book had to say about this, that, and the other thing. He got frustrated with the words he did not know but we worked through them and I did not witness or deal with any blow-ups.
After Lucas, I read with Anna. She read me a Baby Mouse graphic novel. She told me that she did not like to read out loud to people and that sometimes she just does not talk at all when she is shy. So I started to have a conversation with her about the book she picked, why she picked it, what she liked about it, and what other books she liked to read. It was after she started laughing I asked her if she could read her book to me. She complied. She was very quiet but she comprehended the words on the page so I was not worried about her vocabulary. There were a couple of times that she just stopped talking after she had tried a word two or three times. I asked her to try sounding it out just a couple more times but she just shook her head and refused to make eye contact with me. I suggested taking a deep breath before trying the word again. She looked at me so I demonstrated what I meant by taking a deep breath myself. Then she took a deep breath!! Then she started to try the words again and, after she got them, we moved on. I didn’t know if she had stopped reading because she was frustrated with herself, with the book, or if she was embarrassed that she didn’t know what it was saying, but I know that deep breathing works for me for whatever situation I am in. I am glad it worked for her.
This week may not have been what I had hoped for but it was still a great learning experience. With that said, I am absolutely thrilled for next week when I get to teach a 45 minute ELA lesson. However, I am a little nervous as I have never been in the classroom when Mr. Park is teaching ELA or when the students are even working on their ELA assignments. I plan on creating a lesson plan and running it by my ECS lab instructor and, once it looks good to her, sending it to my cooperating teacher to see what he thinks. By asking before I go into the school I will know if there is anything I included that is just not even an option for the class.