I’m learning a lot from not only observing a classroom, but from working with my mentor teacher. I’m being asked to help and contribute frequently in her classroom and because of this am learning a great deal from her and this experience. This week in my placement, it was the week before Halloween. The students were excited about the upcoming holiday, but it was also the end of the card marking, so a lot of due dates were coming up. Their book reports were due on the fiction book they were reading. She gives them time every class to read their chosen book, so they can finish and complete a book report. A lot of them goof off during this time though and then never turn in a report. Since it’s a big chunk of their grade, like thirty points, students end up having very low grades in her class. It must be so discouraging to see so many students do poorly because of this. She reminds them daily to make sure they do it and stays after school on Thursdays to help if anyone needs it. She even accepts late work. Today she admitted, with some kids she just doesn’t know what to do. She’s called home, sent letters home, tried to talk to the student and just nothing works. We talk so much in my Teaching class about engaging students, yet it just seems like you can try your hardest and still…
On a better note, I finally remembered to bring my book from my young adult lit class and it felt good to be modeling my own book instead of reading the first paragraph of whatever book Mrs. C handed me as I walked in. After free reading, they did some more worksheets on their Locomotion book. They had to fill out a web which had boxes for actions, feelings, sayings and thoughts. They had to go through the book and find examples of all these things. It was a pretty good activity, but it took them awhile to get into it. Three of us had to be constantly moving around the room helping kids and encouraging them to finish. They liked the end of class though because she played a quick game. She had posters up like before with all the letters of the alphabet, only this time it was focused on Halloween candy and costumes. They had to think of examples of each that started with the letters.
I think Mrs. C does a really good job with those last few minutes of class before the bell rings. You have to save enough time for clean up or else chaos would break out; papers would never get turned in and books would never be returned. Sometimes though too much time is allowed and you can’t just sit around. She always has some fun way to keep the kids paying attention, yet they are having fun and learning.
The next hour of the day, was her 8th grade English class. She reminded them they had book reports due. They did a DOL (daily oral language), where they had to fix a sentence that she had on the overhead. Next they received a list of Greek gods and had to find out who they were by looking in the dictionary. At the same time, they got back their papers they had been working on. Each student had green marks on their paper of the corrections made and on the back was a list of words. They had to put those words on their “skills list” which they each keep with them. Each student has a different list, so they know what they personally need to work on. I think that’s a good tool to have, although I’m not quite sure what gets done with these lists yet and I didn’t get a chance to ask her. The day ended with the students doing a crossword on the Greek gods. They seemed to get really into it and enjoyed something fun, as a change from looking up definitions.
This week we had a pretty normal week inside the classroom. I got to see how things are done and what it feels like to be in middle school. It takes a lot of classroom management to keep students on task and to make sure they are absorbing at least some of the material. I think “classroom management” is a hard thing to understand and master. It comes with practice, time, and especially observing what works and what doesn’t. I’m glad I get this opportunity to be in a classroom.