Field Experience

Week 7

March 26th, 2018

 

It is with a heavy heart that I had to say goodbye to the students and staff of Grant Road School today. I cannot believe that my placement has come to an end already. These past seven weeks have gone by so quickly and I have loved every second of my experience in the classroom. Looking back at my first day and seeing where I am today, I cannot believe everything I have learnt and the countless ways in which I have grown as an educator.

From my experience, my eyes have been opened to the extent of content that the students are learning. While this content is heavily curriculum based, the education does not stop there. Not only are the students being educated in academic topics such as reading, writing, math, science, etc., but they are also learning so many fundamental life skills that will prepare them for the world they are about to face. These students are learning how to socialize, problem solve, and how to express themselves appropriately. They are learning about issues that are unavoidable in life such as bullying, as well as how to deal with these types of issues. I personally feel that these lessons are just as important, if not more important, than the academic aspects. I also think it is interesting to consider that the students may not realize the significance of what they are learning at the time it is being taught, but once they are able to apply their knowledge in out of class situations, it becomes apparent to them.

One of my favourite parts about being in the classroom is seeing the children accomplish things that they never thought they would be able to. Often times, children are unable to understand a concept right away, which is discouraging when they see others around them who are able to understand said concepts. This is a time where I feel it is appropriate to step in and provide encouragement to the students who are struggling, while also providing praise to those who aren’t. I think often times teachers tend to students who are struggling, which is great, yet being a student who did well in elementary school, I found that I often didn’t receive as much attention as the students who struggled more and that made me feel less significant or worthy. Although I now know that I was capable of working on my own while others weren’t, I don’t want any other children to feel the way I did when I was younger and that is why I feel it necessary to give all children attention at times.

Overall, my experience in the classroom has led me to have a deeper understanding of what it means to be a teacher. I have learnt that a teacher’s job is so much more than what is written on a piece of paper. The job is unpredictable, difficult and tiring. But although it is all those things, it is also rewarding, inspiring and in my opinion, the best job anyone could ever have. To have the opportunity to prepare children to succeed in this world is something that should not be taken lightly. Teaching is a huge responsibility, but it is one that I feel I am ready to take on.

 

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Week 6

March 19, 2017

 

I cannot believe that I only have one more afternoon in my classroom placement! These past six weeks have gone by so fast and it’s interesting to look back and see everything that I have learnt from this experience.

I have had the opportunity to participate in educating students in a wide variety of subjects, including reading and writing, math, social studies, science, and even second and third languages. One thing I love about elementary teachers is that they are able to teach every subject, as opposed to just focusing on one or two. This is a huge responsibility for the teacher, yet it also keeps the job interesting and challenging.

One thing that I noticed my classroom teacher do is implement elements from many different subjects into a single activity. For example, the students were studying palaeontology in science class and the teacher came up with the idea of having them dissect chocolate chip cookies. While this activity meets the criteria of the science class, the teacher took things a step further. After the children dissected the chocolate chips from their cookie, they then had to graph the number of chocolate chips in order to compare and see which cookie brand had the most. This brought in an element of mathematics to the lesson plan. She also had the children draw images of the cookie labels, which incorporated lessons of both art and spelling. In one lesson, she was successful able to integrate numerous subjects and therefore making an effective use of time and resources. This is something I had never considered before and will definitely be using this approach in my classroom in the future.

I have not only found it interesting to experience what information is being taught, but also how the students are internalizing this information. Children are complex learners that all learn differently. It is because of this that it is important to teach concepts in a variety of different ways. While some students can read a book and internalize the information, others require a more hands on approach to learning. In my classroom, the students are exposed to numerous different ways of learning. An example of this is the many approaches to reading the class’s novel study. Students read independently, with their parents, in small groups, and as an entire class. The same chapter is read in more than one way, which ensures that all students are being supported to learn in the most effective ways. This is a critical component to education and therefore is something I feel I need to learn more about before I can successfully teach others. The most interesting thing about taking many approaches to teaching a lesson is that students don’t always understand the extent of information they are actually learning. They are often surprised to realize that they have internalized so much information without feeling like it’s overwhelming.

I have seen great examples of embracing different ways of learning and teachers working to ensure that all their students feel comfortable in their classroom. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to ensure that you as a teacher are doing everything in your power to provide students with the knowledge they need to achieve in the classroom.

 

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Week 5

March 12, 2016

 

Today was another great afternoon in the classroom! I cannot believe how quickly it has gone by and the fact that I only have two more afternoons left is my placement is very unfortunate, as I would love to continue on with my time in the classroom. That being said, I have learnt so much already and feel that there is much more to experience before the semester ends.

Diversity in the classroom is something that I talked about in my last blog post, yet it is such an important topic that I feel it needs further exploration. As I have stated before, my experience at Grant Road School has exposed me to a very diverse group of students and teachers, as well as diversity in methods and modes of teaching. First off, all of the students are treated equally, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, etc. When I say that they are treated equally, I do not mean that they are treated the same, as equality looks different for everyone and some children need to be taught and approached in alternative ways. From my experience, I have witnessed several modifications made in order to personalize student’s education to fit their needs. An example of this is as simple as having myself sit with a student while the class read as a group to ensure they could keep up and follow along without falling behind. I feel that this is an important idea to understand when dealing with children in a classroom that are at varying ability levels. By sitting with this child while we read, I was not giving him special treatment, nor was I pointing him out as being a weak reader. I was simply providing a source of support that he needed to engage in the activity.

Considering how I am working in a classroom with grade 1 and 2 students, issues related to gender identity are not a huge topic of discussion. With this being said, the school does go up to grade 8 and I am sure that these topics are more relatable to students in the other end of the school, so although I am not personally exposed to them, they are present within the school and community. Having grown up in a small town, I have noticed that the topic of gender and sexual diversity is much more commonly talked about in city schools. This is interesting to me because it is something I haven’t been exposed to before and therefore am interested to learn how to address these topics in a professional and respectable way.

 


 

 

Week 4

March 5th, 2018

 

Although Mondays are usually not the most anticipated day of the week, I have found myself looking forward to them every week because of my placement! I absolutely love being in the classroom and interacting with the students! Today was only my fourth afternoon in the classroom, but I already feel like I belong there and cannot wait to have one of my own someday. Although I am looking towards the future, I still feel as if I have a lot to learn from the rest of my placement opportunities and am excited to see what lies ahead!

From my experience at Grant Road School thus far, I have noticed a very diverse and accepting learning environment. The student’s themselves come from very different ethnic backgrounds, which I feel benefits the classroom in the sense that everyone has different beliefs, values, and stories to share. An example of this became apparent to me when a woman from the University came into class to teach a Mandarin lesson. One of the grade one students who is very shy and quiet happens to speak both English and Mandarin, so it was both interesting and inspiring to see the confidence he was able to gain from sharing his knowledge with his classmates. The classroom teacher did a great job of ensuring that the student was able to share what he knew in a way that was beneficial to both him and the rest of the class. She didn’t force him to speak in front of the class, but asked him if he would like to give everyone a piece of advice for speaking the language. I found this to be a very smart move on the teacher’s behalf and I will definitely be using that method in the future.

I know that inclusion is a topic of great focus in the education system itself. The idea that all students should be accepted, embraced, and included at all times is ideal, yet I understand that inclusion is not as simple as it may seem. Inclusion only occurs when effort is made to ensure it, and I feel that the staff at Grant Road School are working hard to promote inclusion for all, which is an admirable effort. Every activity that I have witnessed or heard about is very open and inviting to students of all races, religions, genders, etc. I have also noticed that when exclusion occurs between students, the teachers are quick to deal with it in an appropriate manner. A simple example of this occurred when two of the girls in the classroom were whispering about another student and telling her that she couldn’t play with them. Although this may seem like a minor issue, it can quickly escalate to something more severe if not handled properly. The teacher assistant in my classroom took the girls aside and asked them if they thought they were behaving in a kind way. The girls immediately admitted that they had been acting poorly and apologized to the other girl. I feel that this issue is one that occurs often, especially with elementary students. From observing this occurrence, I was given a better idea of how to deal with issues without having to make them bigger than they actually are.

I personally value diversity and inclusion in the classroom and the school system itself. In saying this, I understand that not everyone feels the same way and therefore it will always be a topic of focus in the education system. I believe that the role of teachers is to ensure that students feel comfortable being who they are, as well as making sure they are included in every way possible. By teaching these beliefs at a young age, there is a better chance that students will grow up and maintain these values in life itself.

 


 

 

Week Three

February 26, 2018

 

Today’s field experience was another amazing afternoon. The kids seemed to be more relaxed after coming back from a weeklong break and finally getting the chance to go outside again for recess after a few week of being stuck indoors. Although it was tough for the kids to get back to the school schedule, my classroom teacher did a great job of keeping students on track and interested in their learning.

I spent the afternoon working with kids in different scenarios and from this I was able to observe the many ways in which children express and internalize knowledge. My supervising teacher and teacher’s assistant exhibited many ways of honouring the unique learning approaches of the students that I found to be very interesting. I know from experience that not all children learn the same way and that there is no single way of teaching a topic. When a student didn’t understand instructions, the teacher, as well as myself, did our best to explain it to them in a way that they could understand. This proved to be challenging, but I found that it felt very rewarding to see the look on the student’s faces when they finally understood what they were supposed to be doing. In my opinion, this is something that all teachers cherish.

It is apparent from the experiences I have had in the classroom so far that the job of a teacher is never complete. My supervising teacher has helped me to understand that although she is a professional, she is always open to new approaches and is always trying to improve upon her teaching methods. I noticed this when observing staff interactions with each other. It is clear that the staff at Grant Road School are like a family and are always sharing new ideas with each other, therefore expanding their professional knowledge.

Today I took the opportunity to explore my classroom while the students were out playing on the playground. I was able to notice things that I hadn’t before, which was very interesting in my opinion. On the wall, I noticed a very inspirational quote that stuck with me. The quote read, “The influence of a good teacher can never be erased”. This is something that I agree with and hope to be able to live up to some day in the future.

 

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Week Two

February 12, 2018

 

Today was the second day of my field experience and I am happy to write that it was just as exciting and inspiring as my first visit. Again, the students were very energetic and excited to have guest teachers in their classroom. I loved hearing how the students remembered my name and were happy to have me back for another afternoon.

Unlike last week, today I got the opportunity to spend some time in the staffroom and interact with some of the other teachers. All of the staff were very kind and welcoming, greeting me with smiles and introductions. I also got to meet the principal, who was friendly as can be. It was after meeting these professionals that I got a sense of the type of work environment the school has and I was very impressed at the amount of kindness and generosity that existed within the walls of the school.

Today’s experience also gave me a deeper look into the lives of the students and the circumstances some of them are living with. Not going into detail, as to respect the privacy of the students, I can say that I have come to see that sometimes there is more to a situation than meets the eye. As teachers, it is vital to understand this and deal with it in a positive way. Having spoken with my supervising teacher, I got the impression that she not only cares about her student’s education, but also their overall well-being. This can be said in general for all the teachers at Grant Road School, as the connection between students and staff is quite strong.

In terms of community, I found that the school has been able to develop and maintain a positive relation between parents, staff, and students. From what I saw, parents feel comfortable coming to the staff to talk about any concerns they have with their children or their education. I think that this relationship is very important for not only the school, but the community as well.

I personally have been able to stay connected with the school and classroom by following my supervising teacher’s blog, as well as the school calendar. Both resources provide information that helps me prepare myself for my visits, as well as stay updated on what the students are doing on the days I am not around.

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Week One

February 5th, 2018

 

This week was the beginning of my ECS 100 field placement and I could not have been more excited for this experience to begin. I have been placed in a grade 1/2 classroom at Grant Road Elementary School. I have not had a lot of experience dealing with children in the lower elementary grades, so I was slightly nervous as to how the afternoon would go. I was also interested to see how a classroom would integrate both first and second grade level lessons. Thankfully, my afternoon in the classroom went by smoothly and I had an amazing time. The students were so energetic and welcoming that the nerves I felt walking in vanished and I began to feel as if I fit in perfectly.

The school itself isn’t too large and is older than many other schools in the city. The classroom I worked in had twenty-four students and the room was small but the teacher made great use of the space. Unfortunately the weather did not permit the students to have outside recess, so they did have a lot of energy that they weren’t able to express in the most appropriate ways. With this being said, my supervising teacher dealt with the excess energy with composure, explaining to me how it is not the student’s fault but that they just need a positive way to release that energy. She then brought out some fun exercise videos to play that helped the children channel their energy in a positive way. This is an approach that I feel I will remember and use in my classroom one day.

I was given the opportunity to interact with the students and I got to know some of them quite well. There is a very diverse and unique group of children in this classroom and I was interested to talk to each of them and observe their behaviour and interactions with each other. Some students were more talkative than others, but I found that even the quietest of students had a lot to say if given the chance. I told the students a little information about myself so that they would feel more comfortable around me and I think that really helped to lay down the groundwork for future relationships.

Although I saw many similarities between this school environment and my own personal elementary school, the differences between rural and urban schools became apparent immediately. I grew up in a small town with a population of 1000. Moving to Regina was a big step for me and I knew that teaching in the city would look very different. The most obvious difference I was able to see was the focus on safety and the need to know student’s whereabouts at all times. I understand the significance of this, as the school should be a safe place for everyone. Another difference I was able to see was the increase in resources and staff that Grant Road School has in comparison to mine. I loved seeing the resources used in the classroom that helped students at varying ability/academic levels.

Overall, my first experience in the classroom was a positive one and I loved the feeling I got from being seen as someone in a teaching position. I cannot wait for the rest of my field experience and the knowledge I will gain from it.

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