Friday, September 23, 2011

Week Four: Mmm...Peaches! :)

This week was week one of field placement! Though there are times I think that I may be learning as much about what I do not want to do in my classroom as I am about what I would like to incorporate in my classroom, it's a positive learning experience either way. Watching the students hold a mock Congress, follow basic Parliamentary procedure, and debate/vote on the bills they created certainly gave me valuable insight into my students. It highlighted what issues they feel are important, and in listening to their debates I got a sense of their beliefs and those of the community as a whole. The hardest part was keeping my mouth shut and letting them take the debate wherever it was going to take them!

My favorite debate, by far, was the representative democracy debate where the bill (presented by the representative from Georgia) proposed making peaches the national fruit. To hear their conversations, with comments ranging from "I like strawberries better, can we make it strawberries?" to "But I don't like peaches!" to "If we make peaches the state fruit that will boost the economy of states that produce the largest quantity of peaches" was a priceless teaching moment (not to mention hilarious)! It blew my mind that a class of ninth grade students would be contemplating the economic implications of declaring a national fruit!

I learned a lot of little things about my teaching style, what my classroom will look like, and how I want my students to learn. In short, I'm developing my teaching philosophy. Wednesday morning, I was the first one in the classroom; I got to turn on the lights; I got to greet the students. It seems like such a little thing, but for a few minutes I owned that classroom and those were MY students. That's when I realized how vital the "little things" are to teaching.

That morning, I realized that I would be the teacher with the to-go cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate/whatever (that morning it was chai) in hand, and I recognized the significance of something I would never have thought of before. How often do you have a chance to contemplate the symbolism of a to-go cup? Yes, I actually sat around and thought about it. What does that to-go cup say to your students when they walk in the door? How can something as simple as setting down or picking up that cup be used as a teaching tool? It's all relevant...maybe contemplating my morning chai isn't the most important thing to consider, but it got me thinking!