Week 4 Reflection

Well this past week was a really big week and it was jammed pack, I don’t even know where to start. I started teaching at 50% this week, and so I continue to teach my grade 8s and now I have a grade 11 Pre-Calculus class that I am in charge of. The grade 11 class is where I am teaching the flipped classroom style, so I was pretty excited to begin with them and have them watching the video lessons I had been working so hard on.
It so happens that the classes I’m teaching right now both land on the same days, so I’m basically teaching full days every over day right now with the other days left for prep and observation. The day before teaching my 11’s for the first time I was able to sit down with my sponsor teacher and go over my lesson plan and things that I should look out for or go over with the students during class time. I felt pretty confident about everything for the class because I was prepared and I knew what I wanted to go over with them.
As soon as the clock struck 9am the next day my confidence dropped drastically! I was so nervous all of a sudden and it probably showed. I was able to cover most of the topics that I wanted and guide the students through the trouble areas of the unit that they would struggle with, but I knew that it wasn’t as clear or smooth as I would have liked. I had moments where I was talking too fast because of my nerves, I forgot this one perfect example that would of been very beneficial, a bit of my math lingo was off during the instruction and I doubted myself while I was going over a question so I paused and had to look to my sponsor teacher for clarification. I felt pretty vulnerable in front of them that day because they were going to start watching my video lessons and judging my work. I finished the class off feeling ok of the overall product because during work time I was able to help many students and they all worked hard the entire class. However, I was also feeling pretty disappointed because I knew of the issues I had during class and that my sponsor teacher would of recognized them too.
I went into my afternoon classes feeling pretty blue and nervous because I was also to be observed that day by our Faculty advisor, and I’m still working on classroom management issues with them that she would want to talk about. We were starting a new unit so I gave time to review the previous unit test and then to introduce the new content and give time for practice. Each task took a lot longer than I thought it would, I had a lot of students asking questions, there were a lot of transitions so the students were energetic and talkative and so I was starting to show frustration with getting things under control. I felt pretty awful about the class and then having my observation meeting right after which was good and insightful, but just too much all in the same day.
I was defeated and broken, so I had a huge breakdown that evening and really needed time to breath, take it all in and then get a good pep talk. I did receive feedback from the day that was great such as talking my time, pointing out or picking up on the little issues in class, and really breaking down the instruction for better understanding. So the next day when I was able to sit down with my sponsor teacher and with my faculty advisor I felt a million times better because I was able to really understand the feedback they were giving me, and that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and that I was progressing really well with my classes.
From there I went into the next classes with their ideas in the back of my mind, and it really helped. I was able to make smoother transitions, pick apart questions for better understanding, slow down to cover all the points I wanted, and have a good time. It was the first time I felt really good about an entire class.
For next week I really want to be able to give my students lots of time for practice and to address their individual concerns. I hope to accomplish this by being strong with repercussions and transitions, breaking down solutions to problems, and recognizing progress and student attention. Class sizes are very large with a variety of personalities, so I know that I need to get better at recognizing whose attention I have, whose I don’t and who is understanding and who seems to be confused.
To finish things off, I glad I had my break down this week because I am know feeling stronger from it. It gave me the chance to acknowledge that I’m not perfect and I don’t need to be right now because I am learning and practicing. I know what I’m good at and I know what I need to work on, so from here all I need to do is work at it and grow into a place I’m really comfortable.

Week 3 Reflection

This past week was a very short week because Monday was BC Family day so it was a holiday for students and staff, and then Friday was a Pro D day. Students were off school and staff members were to attend professional development seminars for the day. Hence, there were only 3 days of instruction this week. Of the three days I had two days of instruction with my Math 8 classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. This week was a really great learning experience for me because I was going to have my first test with my students and attending my first professional development day.
On Tuesday, I had my second observation from my faculty advisor with my Grade 8s. That day we were finishing our last lesson before the test and working on finishing all the work we had to have done for our portfolio for the unit. I knew that a group of my students were right on schedule with their assignments and placing their work in their portfolios, but I also knew that the majority of them were confused or slightly behind or even having misplaced their work. I decided since so many of the group were absent during this time and having a hard time comprehending and keeping up with the checklist of assignments I would be not too strict on whether everything was done and handed in. During class I had students write a pretest on the content so far and mark each other’s work highlighting the good work and discussing the struggles. The rest of class looked much like any other day with a short lecture, some assigned questions for practice and an activity to enrich the learning.
I had been practicing and discussing with the classes the importance of being respectful when others are talking and making quicker transitions between activities. That day there were moments of good transitions, but my faculty advisor discussed with me working more on classroom management with the students. I hope that as we continue to work together and create routines that this will progress into stronger transitions, and a better working environment. I am feeling pretty good about how my progress is going with my classes so far because most of my observations have gone well, only having issues majorly with classroom management which I believe can only get better with time and practice.
On Thursday, my sponsor teacher was away and I had a TOC assisting me in the classroom. It was test day for unit 4 and I had planned on having a game of Math Jeopardy for review with the class for the first half of the time, and finishing the day with the test. Overall, everything went well with the review and the test, but I definitely left feeling like I needed to change a few things around to improve the situation. The students loved the game for review and everyone participated with a lot of excitement. However, there were moments that got a little too energetic, so I think that for next time I need to establish stronger rules for presenting solutions and giving out or taking away points. I think this will help to create fairness amongst the students and minimize chaos. When I moved on to giving the test to the class I gave much more time than I needed to ensure everyone would have enough time to work through it all, but I think that I should either give less time or create a longer test with simpler questions.
I asked students to complete a reflection sheet at the end of class on unit 4 noting the things they enjoyed about the unit, things they struggled with, and something they would like to suggest for next time. I was thrilled with the responses because I didn’t realize some of the things they would like. I got comments for more practice time in class, questions with more simple numbers, students needing more explanation, etc. I am taking into consideration their requests and hoping to be able to apply most of them for the next unit we are working through.

February 7th, 2013

This week I knew that I would only be teaching twice because in our practicums we start off teaching 25% and move up to 50% and then complete the rest teaching 75%. It seemed like it would be a fairly straight forward week with lots of time to continue prepping for classes to come. On Wednesday, one of my sponsor teachers told me that they were going to be away the next day and a TOC (teacher on call) would be coming in to teach that day for him. Since his morning class is the class I plan on taking over when I start teaching 50% he thought it would be great for me to teach them while the TOC assists, and then the afternoon I would return to teach my grade 8 Math class with my other sponsor teacher. I was nervous about it, but I knew it was a good opportunity to get my feet wet teaching this group plus I thought about that I’m going to have my first full day of teaching.
I have experience teaching full time from subbing back home in Whitehorse over the past few years, so I knew it would be a jam packed day and I would be exhausted by the end of it. I came pretty early to get all my photocopies done and organized for the day, and to setup each classroom for the activities we would have. I think that it’s important to come early and prepare for the days I teach plus it gives me a sense of relief that I know I am prepared now.
The morning was a success teaching my Pre-Calculus 11’s for the first time and with a lesson that wasn’t mine, so I was technically the TOC for that. Everyone worked hard for the entire block, asking lots of questions, completing assignments, and writing their first quiz. The class started off a little slow with the students still waking up, but as we went through an activity and then to open work the energy skyrocketed. I am feeling pretty confident with that class now since I have been able to start building a rapport with the students and stand up front and lead them.
In the afternoon I was back in class with my grade 8’s and I knew there was a few topics we needed to discuss before we started our new lesson. As a class we talked about ways to make better transitions and listen when others are talking. We decided to have a count down from 5 to 0 as a cue that it’s time to stop what we are doing and listen to Ms. Palamar, as well as no talking over each other because then we will stop and potentially have to make up class time after school. It seemed to work well as class continued, but I did notice that I had to use the countdown more times than I would like to. Besides learning a new transition, we had a tough lesson today introducing the surface area of cylinders. It took up most of the class working together through problems using the formula, and a lot of the students were struggling with it. At the end of the class, I felt it was a great class with better transitions and the students worked hard to understand this new content. However, I know that next time we meet we will need a good review of this before moving on to something new.
Overall, it was a very successful day with both of my classes and I really enjoyed it all. I have to admit though just like I said earlier, I was exhausted when it was all over. I can’t complain though because it was a great feeling!

February 5th, 2013 – Observation 1

Today was the second lesson I taught with the two grade 8 math classes that I have taken over from one of my sponsor teachers. The first lesson I taught to them was great, they were all engaged and having a good time in class. However, I left it feeling a bit overwhelmed because of the energy in the class was so high. I thought to myself that its cause it is Friday afternoon and its a class with 20 plus students, so its normal for them to be a little energetic and unattentive to me and other students. I felt that i definitely had great activities set up for them that they enjoyed and learned a lot from, but I knew I needed to work on my classroom managment with getting their attention and controlling their responses in class.

I started today feeling confident in the lesson I had designed for them, but pretty nervous about how the class would behave especially since I was being observed by my faculty advisor for the first time. I have two blocks of grade 8 math with two different groups of students, and she was coming to observe the second group so I was able to have a “practice round” with my lesson before having her observe. Overall, it was a success with the students reviewing concepts we learned before and having them apply that to the new topics. I felt that every student in the class left having had a good time in class and feeling confident in the new content. However, similar to before the classroom management had several issues.

So, now it was time for my faculty advisor to observe my lesson with the second group of students and I was feeling apprehensive about it. This group was a little more responsive during the lesson, but there were still many moments of struggle to control their behavior and attention. The overall of the class was great and the students learned a lot while having a good time, but I knew that the management was an issue. My faulty advisor gave me some great ideas for better control of attention and repsonses, which I will defifnitley be trying next class.

As of right now, Im feeling pretty confident in my teaching because my students are engaged and taking a lot away from each class. I’ve managed to build great relationships with my students already, so I know it can only get better from here. I know what I need to work on, and I plan on working it out!

About Me

My name is Amy Palamar and I am Teacher Candidate from UBC Okanagan in Kelowna, BC. I am about to begin my teaching practicum here in Kelowna at a local High School with grades 8-12. I was born and raised in Whitehorse, YT and have only been exposed to the school systems from my childhood, so entering a school in BC is a new experience for me. However, I have had many opportunities in Whitehorse to work in various elementary and secondary schools ever since I graduated high school.

I have been assigned two sponsor teachers at the school I am going to do my practicum at who teach different grades and have different teaching styles. I am looking forward to working with both of them with their respective styles and techniques in the months to come. I will be teaching a flipped classroom with one teacher which is something I recently became aware of and am very interested in using it in my future, so I am excited to be exposed to it in my practicum!

Stay Tuned! Im sure I will have a lot of thoughts and feelings to share as I enter this adventure!

Prep Week

This Week was the first week at my school of my three and a half month teaching practicum. It was the end of their first semester exam period, so I spent most of the week working with the other teacher candidates or my sponsor teachers on unit plans, lesson plans and any other prep work I needed to complete before beginning teaching. I have to stay it was very helpful having that opportunity because it got me to focus and get a lot done as well as talk to my sponsor teachers about anything I was confused about.

For my flipped classroom I had to make video lessons for each lesson that we cover in the class, and that was a lot of work when I first started. I was able to complete two units videos and add a fun intro with a catchy song to start off each video. Im really looking forward to seeing my students reactions to the videos and how different the design of the work in the class is.

We also had triad meetings with our sponsors teachers and our faculty advisor on our first round of unit plans for the classes we plan to teach. I was very pleased with the meetings I had because everyone felt I was well prepared and generating excellent work.

There were several moments of panic, frustration and confusion from the week though because in teaching there are so many little details that have to be considered which generally dont cross someone’s mind when thinking about the prep. However, at the end of it all I am feeling pretty good about where I am with all my prep work and cannot wait to get started working with my students!