Friday, November 18, 2011

Week Twelve: Farewell

This week was the last week of field placement, and my reaction has been bittersweet. On one hand, I am excited to be back in the classroom learning new teaching strategies, interacting and discussing educational concepts with my peers, etc. On the other hand, without field I know I will have to wait to implement these strategies until my next field placement...and I don't want to wait that long! Despite my impatience to experience field on a whole new level with another group of students and a new cooperating teacher, I will really miss my students.

This past week has been an incredible opportunity to get to know my students. Because I didn't have many formal teaching opportunities in field early on in the semester, that meant I got to consolidate this experience at the end of field. This resulted in a fantastic final week, in which I taught every day! Unfortunately, while my final experiences were exceedingly positive, I desperately wished I had connected with my students earlier in semester.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Week Eleven: Intrinsic Rewards

This week was a rather unconventional week. It was my first experience attempting to co-teach in the field (I've done it in education classes before, but not with a cooperating teacher), I missed field on Thursday and class today due to illness, and now I am home recovering for the weekend. I probably would have written an extensive account of my co-teaching experience today were it not for a conversation I had with my dad this afternoon. Teaching and education are rewarding in so many ways, but I think sometimes we focus on what happens in the classroom and forget that there are an infinite number of ways that education can touch our lives without ever setting foot in a classroom.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my dad was a key resource when planning my topic lesson presentation and became my inspiration for the ineffective group work activity in my presentation. I had had every intention of giving him a full report (including Sam the "clown" and Dexter, our favorite "self-confessor"), but it completely slipped my mind...until he asked about it this afternoon. I gave him an animated account of the lesson and activities, and his face lit up! It was the most wonderful see how excited he was and how happy he was to be a part of it all. When my mom got home from work, he asked if she'd heard about the lesson and when she hadn't, he launched into an explanation of the lesson that HE inspired. THAT was my intrinsic reward for the week!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Week Ten: A Spiritual Occupation

In teaching my first formal lesson this week, I initially felt like I had more questions than answers. While I knew I had tools to use when things didn't go as planned (and most things went as planned so it wasn't necessary to use them), I also realized that I wanted MORE tools to choose from. The more experience you have in the classroom, the more tools you have developed to draw from, and the more successfully you can tackle problems when they DO arise. More strategies also means that you can implement ones that are more appropriate for a given situation. My lessons this week have also taken me on a personal journey as I attempt to view the positive (and sometimes mind-blowing) accomplishments of my students and ultimately come to the realization that (even if an activity doesn't go as planned) learning HAS occurred.

My professor's statement about teaching being a "spiritual occupation" stuck with me. It's something that I've been mulling over for the past couple of weeks, and I have to agree. I'm not sure I can describe why this is, but that I have no other explanation for the moments when I see that my students truly "get it", the feeling I get when I've taught a lesson, and the realization that I am happier on the days when I am in field and in a classroom, the days I am involved in my students' learning in one way or another. As I contemplated the implications of teaching as a "spiritual occupation" I couldn't help but wonder who else was affected by this statement; is teaching a spiritual occupation, and if not, how would you describe it?