I'd like to start off this post with a little insight as to why I have been absent in the last few weeks. In the chaos of life, I had the hardest time finding uninterrupted time to simply sit and reflect. I take that as a testament to how my life will be in the future. The important things are never easy. This has taught me a lesson about making time for reflection and I have been staying a few extra minutes every day to jot down some thoughts about what went well that day and what I need to improve.
This will be a catch-up post on the week before Spring Break.
Head-teaching continues to go well. I feel in control of the classroom and my management continues to improve. The only thing that isn't going well is the general amount of chatter in the classroom. The students aren't misbehaving, being respectful, or interrupting the class, but there seems to be a constant stream of low noise. Most of our days are ending with everyone on a warning and a few people everyday have lost recess. My cooperating teacher and I discuss some different actions we can take. She mentions that around October of the previous year, a similar thing happened and she started sending weekly reports home for how many times a student received a warning, lost recess, or finally got a major referral. We decide to do the same thing and explain it to parents during conferences. (And since this was a few weeks ago, I can say now that we've seen serious improvement in this area.)
One thing that really went well was a lesson that I planned teaching about matter. We were focusing on a discussion of solids, liquids and gases. I taught a lesson teaching how the particles behaved in each state of matter using moving images and having students pretend to be a particle in each state in their desks. The next day, to review, we had a discussion outside and then I made a few different sized boundary lines in chalk. The students illustrated solid particles, liquid particles and gas particles (where they got to run around the playground for a minute.) We came back inside to take a quiz on the information that everyone passed.
With these two examples, I learned the importance of holding students accountable for their behavior and introducing kinesthetic movement into a lesson. It's vital to classroom success to communicate student behavior to teachers. Few students will go home and tell their parents that they got a warning and even fewer may tell them that they lost recess. When parents are in the know, we see a general increase in positive behavior.
During this week, I also read Chapter 10 from Schmidt: "Great Teachers Are Insurrectionists." This was a very emotional chapter for me to read because it is something I care about so deeply. It is the very reason why I want to teach. I believe that teaching SHOULD BE insurrection. To quote myself, my sophomore year of college:
"I want to teach because I am as passionately a social rights activist as I am a lover and facilitator of learning. I realized that the struggles of multiple populations have been ignored. This is something that I cannot accept. In the spirit of Dr. King, and all those who came before and after him, let us scream out our imaginings for a new kind of education; an education system that support those from every different tongue and background, a system that celebrates differences and strives for who we can be together, a system that runs on dreams, but one that becomes a reality. I have a dream that I will teach the students who have been labeled and discarded to the very boundaries of education. I have a dream that the voices of everyone in this country will cry out strong and brave. I have a dream that I will see this country open its arms to the new possibilities of what lowering the barriers in our own minds creates."
I believe that this mission laid out in chapter 10 of Schmidt is possible even more important for a Christian educator because we are called to see every single person we encounter as a creation of God and made in His image, just as we are. My faith leaves no room for discrimination. It is also a mandate to not tolerate racist perceptions of others. That means that my role in the classroom is to wake children up to the realities around them (though many of them are aware) and to take action. This is where the instructions on page 220-224 come in handy.
I hope to continue my passionate journey as a social justice educator and Christian, committed to making a difference.