Week 7 Reflection

It’s been a while since my last reflection because we just had our two week spring break from school. I went back home to Whitehorse for the break to visit friends and family while I enjoyed the time off. It was great to have the break and share my experiences with people from back home, and I’m looking forward to going back and bringing all I have learned here. Going back into school mode from the two week break was a little challenging at first, and the week started off a little slow with everyone’s brains moving into work mode again. On top of that I had several students still away on vacation, so they will be playing a bit of catch up for the next while.
My grade 8 classes completed the first half of Unit 5 before break begun and had written their Unit test for that, so I was starting the second half this past week. We had to go over the expectations for the Unit through their portfolio checklists, but since this was a familiar concept to the students it went smoothly and we were able to transition into work right away. I have noticed that the students are really responding to the current content and have been able to complete tasks in class. My observation this week by my faculty advisor was in my grade 8’s class this week and from start to finish I was pretty thrilled with everyone’s responses and work habit in the class. My Faculty advisor seemed to really enjoy the class giving me a few tips on taking responses from students and checking for learning. I have been able to implement most of the techniques that my advisors have given me and really notice the effect they have in the classroom. Since we had just completed a Unit test, my students had received their marks for them and I have been offering the chance to retest by attending a morning tutorial and then setting a time for the re write. I had several students make arrangements with me and attend the morning tutorial which was great and many of them have improved their understanding and grade. I get really excited to see my students taking the initiative to improve and get that extra help they need, and so I am very glad that I have been able to give that to them.
My Pre-Calculus classes this past week were a hectic at times since we left for break in the middle of a unit and are working to finish the unit right away. Most of the students hadn’t done any work over the break and were either behind in the unit or needing time to re-familiarize themselves with the content. The first day had a few bumps because they were just coming off having no school for two weeks and their attitude towards class and work wasn’t very positive. I had an activity planned out which we tried to go through, but we struggled through some of the procedures. After it was all said and done I thought that I could try that activity again someday changing it around so there weren’t so many steps and on a day that we could focus so it would be more beneficial. It was an excellent learning experience and from the behaviour of the students I was able to come to class the next day with stricter rules for class time which improved greatly that day. I was able to have a discussion with all of my students this week to get a feeling of where they are in the unit, how they are handling the work, and when they will be writing their tests. I was glad to see that many of them were coming in on their own time to get extra help, so I am hoping that this will continue next week so that we can get everyone on track. I finished the week knowing that I need to continue enforcing the behavioural rules as well as communication with students and parents to continue progressing through each unit successfully.
Outside of class time this week I had two major events occur, my midterm evaluation of my practicum and my first parent-teacher conference. My midterm evaluation was interesting and really successful, as a group my advisors and I went through the evaluation list and chose where I was at for each question. There were 4 categories to choose from and I received mostly the second highest category of consistently meeting expectations which I was really glad to see. There were a couple of approaching expectations questions that we decided on, but I knew that that was accurate because I am working to improve those and have been regularly reflecting on ways to do so. They were things such as monitoring student behaviour and different types of assessment. I was really excited to see that my advisors thought I was exemplary, the highest category, in a few of the questions and I plan to continue that and hopefully build up to that in some of the other questions. Overall, I really benefited from that experience because I got the reassurance that I was strong in most areas and where I was weak we were able to discuss some possibilities to improve. Later that same day was my first parent-teacher conference and before it began I was pretty nervous because I had no idea what to expect. However, once it began I was having a blast because I enjoyed meeting some of the parents and sharing what we have been doing in class. I brought with my all the tests and marks for each student in all my classes and that was a great idea because when we talking about tests or anything I was able to physically show them were their child was strong or needing some extra help. I have always been a pretty social person, and even as a child I liked talking to adults so I think I did great with my first experience in conferences and got a lot of great feedback from my students parents.
I am going into these last couple weeks planning to try and mix things up a bit with my assessment strategies and potentially implementing what I do in my flipped classroom into my grade 8 classes to incorporate more use of technology. I will continue to work on monitoring behaviour in my classes and communicating with my students and parents.


Week 6 Reflection

This past week I started teaching at 75%, which is where I will stay until the end of my practicum. So now, I am currently teaching 2 Math 8 blocks and 2 Pre-Calculus 11 blocks where one is an honours class and they are both taught in the flipped classroom style. There are at least 50 students watching my video lessons on Youtube now, which is pretty remarkable and makes me fairly nervous. Overall, the feedback on my video lessons has been great, but I have received some good criticism as well for it. I need to slow down when I’m writing out the work and describing the steps, give more time in between questions, and correct some spelling and grammar errors. As I work to finish the rest of my video lessons for my last two units I will definitely try to incorporate all these suggestions into my work.
On Monday this week, I had the opportunity to participate in one of the Math department’s collaboration days where all the Math teachers at my sponsor school come together to discuss future plans and for professional development from their colleagues. It was pretty neat to be a fly on the wall in some of their discussions about programs and policies at their school, as well to observe the interest in my one sponsor teacher’s method of using an online database for quizzes and such. I got to spend the day with both of my sponsor teachers talking shop and start planning to implement some of these ideas into our teaching. Everyone had a blast sharing and got a lot out of it.
I’m starting to build up more confidence in front of my students and really dive into some of the questions that they ask in class about the content. With my grade 8’s this week we had two classes, one for review and work time and the other to finish off the first half of Unit 5 with a test. They responded really well to the review activity and worked very hard to complete all tasks for their portfolios and prepare for their test. I had several students come in on their own time to ask questions and go over some concerns they had. I was really glad to see them coming to me on their own and working hard to achieve a high grade. I have noticed that my grade 8’s need a lot of feedback right away on their work in order to continue their progress, so it was great to see a lot of them take account of their own work and be a little more independent.
My 11’s also had a Unit test this week, but since I am teaching using the flipped style my students work to their own pace and test day is considered a deadline where hopefully most students will write tests. If they do not write they are to come in for extra work to prepare to write as soon as they can. I was so happy to see that the majority of my students were ready to write on test day, and the rest came in to morning tutorials and wrote before the end of the week. I was pretty nervous that most of them wouldn’t be ready or wouldn’t show up to tutorials, but I was so glad and really impressed that they came to work when they said and felt comfortable enough to tell me when they weren’t. At this time I have been able to sit down and talk with all of my students in that class and really get a good understanding of how they are feeling and what their strengths are. I am looking forward to see what the next few units will create.
I had my first lesson with my Honours class on Wednesday, and honestly I was a nervous wreck until the lesson started. I had already been able to build relationships with the students assisting in the class, but I had never leaded the instruction with them and I knew they were a strong bunch so I really wanted to start off well. There were a few small stumbles, but as soon as I started the instruction I felt relaxed and it went great. We had some great questions that we investigated and they all went into work time with confidence. At the end of the lesson all of my students gave me some really nice feedback and we also discussed some of my video lesson issues which I already mentioned. That class is such a joy to work with because all of the students enjoy being there and work really hard independently, while assisting classmates.
Friday was the last day before spring break and I only had one class that day with my Honours 11’s class, and I was also being observed by my faculty advisor. I had planned an activity for them which were sort of like a puzzle where they were given pieces of questions and they had to determine the order. I made it a bit more challenging for them, but they worked well in their teams to come up with some strategies to approach the problems. It was really interesting to see how each group was working through the puzzles. My faculty advisor loved the activity and it was a lesson overall. We finished the day off with a game called Password which was a blast and my sponsor teacher even jumped in to play.
Some things that I took away from the week that I know I need to work on are continuing building my confidence with the content and instructing in front of my classes, being more strict and enforcing repercussions for inappropriate behavior, and placing the instruction on the students when I can to help them share ideas and work through problems.

Week 5 Reflection

This week marked the completion of our first month in our three month practicum! Unfortunately for me though it didn’t start off on a good note. I received some upsetting family news at the beginning of the week that my grandma who suffered a severe stroke 3 years ago had passed away. It wasn’t surprising news, but it was sad none the less. I knew that I was ok to go ahead and go to the school and be my cheery self for my students, but throughout the first day there were moments when I wasn’t occupied with prep or assisting a student that I felt a little shaky or lost I guess. I honestly think that no one would have known different if I didn’t say anything about it because all my classes went smoothly. However, I am my own biggest critic and I felt like they did go well but I knew that it could of been stronger if I were more confident.
After that first day the rest of the week felt like any other week coming to work and doing what I love to do. I have to say after all the drama at the beginning; this past week was my favourite week of teaching here in Kelowna so far. On Wednesday, I had my week observation and my sponsor teacher and I had planned out a really great lesson for my faculty to observe. I have been working on my confidence in front of my grade 11 classes, so I always feel pretty nervous before and during their lessons. However, this Wednesday I found myself feeling calm and I was able to really enjoy the whole class and all the problems that came from it. I always say that building strong relationships is the most important thing to me in teaching, and since I have been able to do that with my students every class I teach now I feel them coming more alive in the guided practice and instruction. It was a great observation, and I felt for the first time really pleased with the overall day of teaching. I was able to take students questions and work through the problems building onto previous and future knowledge.
There are several little things that I still need to continue to work on mainly in classroom management, but I know that in time and practice those key qualities will build up to what I need them to be. I need to take my time and really make sure that I am observing all the small actions that are going on in my classes. We also discussed possible ways to make the instruction more student directed and checking for learning from all members of the class.
There have been several interruptions in some of my classes, and hence my grades 11’s have fallen behind in their work. My sponsor teacher and I agreed to postpone their test deadline from this past Friday to next Tuesday. I worry about them a lot because even though I have seen that they are very hard workers in class they are progressing slowly as a group and not taking the initiative to come to tutorials for extra help. With the flipped classroom style the students are able to work at their own pace, but I need to continue to keep some pressure on them to stay on track. I am about to start to have the “hot seat” with my students which I am very excited about to really get a chance to chat one on one about how they are feeling and progressing.
I ended my week with my peer observation in my Math 8 class. I was really pleased at how it went because the students responded so well to the activity and really enjoyed the content from that day. My colleague who observed me also really enjoyed the lesson and left having learned some fun math facts!
This next week is the last week before the two week spring break. I am planning on having some tests with all my classes; however I am aware that many of our students will already be away for the break. I am looking forward to continue working on my confidence, being observant and being tougher when it is needed.