Reflective Practice: A Retrospective Essay
This practicum has been incredibly rewarding for me. I basically had no professional experience at the beginning of this practicum. Last semester’s practicum had not really given me opportunities to actually be a teacher or interact with students. I also was very professionally unaware. I didn’t know much about the reality of being a teacher, and the various things teacher’s have to deal with. I have much more confidence
in my ability to interact with students now, because I have actually been in the classroom working with the students and leading two lessons. I have an actual vision of myself as a teacher, based on experience, however small, rather than only predictions. I also, from spending more time in the school, see more about life in a school community. I understand issues like copy machines running out of paper and homecoming prank fiascos. I have seen teacher’s asking each other for advice and guidance in planning
lessons and dealing with students. In short, I am more aware of what it takes to be a professional, and I am more aware of myself as a professional.
One of my biggest lessons is that some students really aren’t paying attention! I
learned this because when I was helping students with worksheets, they didn’t know major aspects of the plot that their teacher and I had gone over more than once for them, even that very day. It’s very frustrating for me because I feel like we take time and use different methods to get them to understand the information, but some of them just are not putting forth the effort. Another important lesson I learned is that students really want to be active. Many of them are very attention-grabbing, and they hate having to sit and watch the teacher do a PowerPoint. Some of the students would cause distractions in
class because they wanted attention. My teacher has switched a couple of the seats, and this has really improved the issue for some students. I also learned this lesson by seeing how excited the students were when I told them they were going to be acting out the scenes from Much Ado About Nothing. They couldn’t wait to be hams, basically. When
the students have tasks they need to accomplish, they are very eager to do them. But when they don’t have anything to do, they lose motivation badly.
For one thing, the Bridging English textbook is fantastic. There are so many
wonderful ideas in it, many of which I used for my lessons. Reading the theories and suggestions in the book was great, but then seeing evidence in the classroom of how right the authors were was especially interesting. I have more tools now to deal with the issues of the classroom. I especially like a lot of what the authors say about poetry, and I used a few of them for my poetry lesson. The focus we have in Methods on student responses and input has shaped how I plan my lessons, because I think having your say in your own education is very empowering. Talking about classroom issues in class and reading about them in our textbooks made me so much more aware of what was going on in the classrooms I observed.
I do have many goals for myself as a student teacher. For one, I want to motivate the students. Some of them are already, but some really aren’t. My plan for this is to
keep giving them activities where they are very involved and their opinion is valued. Grading for participation might help too, because then people might stay more on-task. Making the classroom very student centered is what I hope will help. My second goal is to give students more tools for understanding what they are reading. It seems that some of them aren’t reading as carefully as they should. I think doing lots of reviewing and
suggesting different reading strategies are some of my plans for this goal. Also, just being very available to help them step by step is important. My third goal is to cultivate a positive classroom community. I have noticed some negative behavior in the classrooms I observed, and I would like to try and combat that so more people feel comfortable speaking. The best way to do this is to of course model kind behavior, but also to verbally discourage students when they say mean things or start acting out. The classroom needs to be a place where people respect each other, and I want to stress this for my students.
The best thing for me about this practicum was that allowed me to take the first step on the continuum from abstract to concrete understanding of myself as a teacher in a learning community. I am more confident and excited about teaching now that I have actually had the opportunity to do it. Also, I am more aware of how I will act in certain situations, such as when students aren’t doing work or are being distracting. The ideas
we have talked and read about in class have given me tools for dealing with different situations in the classroom, as well as tools for planning and implementing lessons. I have a much clearer understanding of who I want to be as a teacher, and even better I have actual ideas for what I want to do to be that kind of teacher. Now when I see things happening in the classroom, whether it’s when I’m teaching or when someone else is, my brain is starting to work. I’m asking questions like “What should I do now?” or “What would I do differently in this situation?” It is extremely exciting.