Entry #6(b) – Professional Development Journal Response

(i) Now that I have successfully completed my pre-internship experience I have had the ability to reflect on my beliefs and expectations of a math teacher. Prior to my three-week blog I spoke highly of student interaction and involving inquiry as much as possible. None of this has significantly changed so much that I disagree with it, in fact I feel the need to stress student involvement even more now that I have experience teaching in a high school setting. Realistically, teenagers do not love attending school all day, and for the most part they do not look forward to sitting in math class for over an hour. That being said, these classes are only as fun as we teachers make them to be. Yes, we can get up, stand in front of the class and dictate notes, power points and examples. But to students, this is extremely boring. My very first day with my Workplace and Apprenticeship 10 class we were starting the systems of measurement unit, which I happened to create an inquiry unit on! So  right away when the bell rings, I split my class up into assigned partners, send them to designated stations and had them measure all sorts of objects, using various tools around the room. To keep them on task and in line I created questions including myself and their names, incorporated situations occurring at Miller to make this activity as relatable as I could. There was about five minutes remaining when a few groups could not believe class was almost over. Their exact words, “Miss. Stein, is the clock broken?” No, why? “Because math class normally drags on forever, and it has flown by! By the way, come look at what we found when we measured these Olympic Rings!”. It took extra effort and planning on my end to incorporate inquiry, have them work with systems of measurement before I explain them to them, as well as getting them up out of their desks and working together. However, a few of my classes from there on out required traditional lectures where we would go over examples together then assign some individual work as well. But most of my students grasped the concepts much easier when I brought in real objects, or had them come up and explain an example to the class. Student involvement is crucial and I was so grateful that this experience confirmed and strengthen this belief. I was also able to assign and mark the Skating Rink project with my WA10 class. They were able to create their own, deciding their own dimensions and reasonings for so, automatically allowing them to take responsibility and leadership for their own learning. They were due the last Thursday of my three-week block, so I ensured I finished marking them that evening so that I could go over my feedback with them on the last day. Again, emphasizing the importance of returning assignments/feedback in a timely manner as their assignments are asked to be submitted on a specified date. None of my prior beliefs were seen to be incorrect and change drastically, however, they were justified and strengthened, showing the importance of each one of them.

ii) Freese mentions that during internship students are “students at the same time that they are learning to be teachers..” which I completely agree with. Yes, we are in the schools teaching our own students, but we that is our practice time to learn, grow, and improve as preservice teachers and must receive necessary feedback and suggestions from our cooperating teachers. During the field experiences and internship placements we are provided with throughout the education program, it is the role of the school and teachers to challenge our beliefs, introduce us to a variety of teaching strategies, and ensure that we preservice teachers take responsibility for our actions and choose to improve from our mistakes.

I appreciate the suggestion Freese provides about being a consistent reflector while we are preservice teachers, but I also argue that this process should be ongoing throughout our career. It is essential to think about, look back on, and reflect on how our daily teaching goes. Which aspects of our lesson worked well and what could use improvement? Which lessons engaged my students the most, which assignments were unclear or too difficult? Since we are still new with noticing weak areas and knowing how to adjust to make improvements we must be openminded during our internships and allow our cooperating teachers to point out necessary alterations. It is important we take all suggestions as constructive criticism and take all feedback with a grain of salt; decide what we think is useful and what is not useful then go from there. Preservice teachers need to be responsible for their learning while they are teachers; communicate with colleagues for extra assistance, ask our coops for help or resources, and make sure to ask for as much feedback as possible to continue growth and improvement. In conclusion, all teachers, both preservice and current, must be openminded and accepting of suggestions to change. Being open to new ideas and various perspectives of how to teach will help us improve our teaching as we can pick and choose specific criteria of what we observe works best in the classroom, either from experience or observation.

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