Sunday, October 28, 2012
Blog Assignment #9
After reading two of Mr. Joe McClung's posts, I feel more prepared for my future classroom than a week ago! Joe McClung is currently an assistant principal at Leverett Elementary in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He is entering his sixth year in the education field! He received a Bachelor's Degree in Health and Physical Education from Arkansas Tech University and a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Arkansas. I decided to read "What I've Learned This Year (2008-09)" and "What I Learned This Year - Volume 4 (2011-12)". I particularly chose the first one because it was a reflection based on his first teaching experience. He reflects about his experiences and what he learned after teaching for the first time. He gives us advice on how to read the crowd. He tells us that we need to be flexible. He says that communication is very important. As a teacher, we need to be reasonable and not be afraid of technology advancing into the classroom and student's lives. He also says we need to listen to our students and never stop learning!
It is very important for us to be flexible to our students and accept the fact that nothing is perfect. We are not perfect. Our students are not perfect. Lessons plans are not perfect. We need to be as flexible as we can be. Like he mentions in his post about flexibility, he entered the school with too much control. He beat himself up for lessons that did not go well. We need to let the "perfection" go and just accept that nothing is perfect! We just need to do the best we can! Mistakes will come and we need to face it. Instead of beating ourselves up for faults, we need to use that fault to teach ourselves how to do better next time. As teachers, we are also learners. Like he says, we should never stop learning!
Another important point is we need to listen and be reasonable to our students. Classrooms should be student-centered. It is very important for us to learn about our students. Every student is different. We need to understand them and provide support when they have a problem. In order to be reasonable, we need to accept that they are children and they are not perfect. We are not perfect either! Sometimes they will make mistakes, so will we. We should not reprimand them for not fulfilling our expectations.
In the second post I read, "What I Learned This Year - Volume 4 (2011-12)", he was actually stumped about what he learned this year and what he should write on his reflection post. I think this is the case because he has learned most of what he needed in order to be good teacher. In the end, he decided to talk about reflect about two themes. One is about peer pressure and another is about challenging yourself.
It was interesting to me that even after many years of teaching, peer pressure still exists! Even though he felt like there's a need to please his peers, he just went on doing what he believed was right and did not let them change who he is. He did not let their opinions, or how he was perceived by them, change his way of teaching or handling business. This is very important for all of us, as future educators and as a human being. We will get opinions from others about what we are doing. I constantly get comments about me becoming a teacher. I would get negative, sarcastic, rude, and weird comments. People ask me why I want to become a teacher when I could become a registered nurse (previous major). Their reasoning is the fact that I could make more money as an RN than a teacher. I tell them that it's not about the money and they look at me funny. If it was about money, I would go study to become a doctor instead. In the end, their opinion did not change what I want to do, who I want to be and where I want to go in life. The point is we should not let other's change our path. We should not let other people's opinions make us deviate from our chosen path. Go where you want to go and believe in what you want to believe. Other people's comments are just "opinions" and we should not change our path just to please others!
He also mentions the idea of "challenging yourself". After teaching for many years, he says that is likely for you to be too comfortable and then slack off with your lessons. He mentions about his memories of himself going to a class that was boring. As a teacher, always bring or use new ideas. You should not use the same lessons or slack off!! You want your students to have fun, engaged and enjoy class! You also want your students eager to learn more! I couldn't agree more!
I remember when I use to teach Kindergartners, I noticed some problems. I was the group leader for an after-school program and we had homework specialists for every grade. After doing homework, we would have time for an activity. The activity and lesson plan is written by our homework specialist. Here is the problem I noticed. The activities they had each day were the "same". It consisted of coloring, cutting and pasting things together. It was a different theme but it was the same idea. My students eventually found it boring. They are Kindergartners and we should keep the activities simple but we need variety. There are so many lessons that will enhance their fine motor skills, listening skills, creativity, and etc. This is the same for other grades. I was also told that these were activities that they have done before in previous years. To me, I think that is a problem and I sensed laziness. As a teacher or even a person working with children, we need to have variety in our teaching but also assessing all the required skills or learning outcomes. We had these days, called "10-hour-days", where students get to come in school during holidays or vacation time. Those were the days where we get to work with different grades! During these 10-hour-days, whoever is assigned to work on those days have to come up with lesson plans. I had the opportunity to write many lesson plans! This was my chance to do something "different". We did face masks, different gym activities, art and crafts, science experiments and etc.! This was really different and I think they all enjoyed it. I only say that because students were asking me to do more of it! I was also asked by the Principal if she could use one of my lessons for the school! I think with variety comes variety in learning!
These are all important things to consider when it comes to teaching, especially for the first time. I have experience working with children but it's different when it comes to the "real thing"! I look forward to it and Mr. Joe McClung's reflections really helped!