It is officially week 6, my last week, of Sophomore Block!
Never would I have imagined virtual teaching in my career, and, after experiencing it, I can attest that it is quite a challenge. It has been a joy being with my students and influencing their academic growth, but the biggest challenge I have had over the past six weeks has been keeping the students engaged in the virtual format. Classroom management is a continuous challenge for most teachers in the classroom, and it is an even greater challenge over ZOOM. The students may be on the screen with us teachers, but we have little to no control over what their learning environment is like at home. Distractions can include physical objects or other family members as well as easy access to the internet from the school-provided computer they are using. An unfortunate reality that I have experienced is in regards to assignments. All assignments are submitted online through a platform called Seesaw, and there are some students who will simply send the assignment back uncompleted a few minutes after they receive it. If we were in the classroom, I would assist the students who have difficulty staying focused or motivated and try to work with them one-on-one when possible. However, on the virtual platform, if a student does not ask for assistance or clarifications, it is difficult to help them. Additionally, this challenge is amplified when students do not turn on their cameras. Teachers do not know if the students are even listening to class if their cameras are off. The students could be away from their computers or watching TV with class muted. I found that this disengagement has made it very difficult for my cooperating teacher to complete report cards for some students. With assignments uncompleted and low levels of participation, it is difficult to note academic growth for their families and the school district.
I do want to note that this is not applicable to all students, just a handful of them.
Challenges are present everyday, but so are joys!
My students are my favorite part of teaching. There is not a day that they fail to bring a smile to my face. I really enjoy the beginning of the day during our morning class discussions because I get to hear from each student and learn more about them. The morning discussion questions vary from “Tell me something about your weekend” to “Would you rather be able to breathe underwater or fly in the air and why?”. The purpose is to get the students engaging in conversation with each other and us teachers, and some of the student answers are very cute and funny.
Since my last post about Sophomore Block, I acquired more responsibility in my class and led a handful of lessons. Of those lessons, I had two supervised lessons which involved my supervisor for Sophomore Block attending my classroom during my teaching to observe me and make notes on my teaching. Afterwards, I debriefed my lesson with her, and we always discussed areas that I did well in and what some areas of growth are. I have learned that I become very excited when I teach which causes me to not pace myself well. Oftentimes, I will catch myself speaking a little too quickly, and my lessons seemed rushed. I need to learn to slow down, allow for wait time in student response, and provide time for students to work independently and gather their thoughts.
I also received a lot of encouragement and validation from my supervisor and cooperating teacher throughout the past six weeks regarding my teaching. They have shared that I have very detailed lesson plans with solid formats and thorough preparation. My lessons have been very engaging for the students, and I do an exceptional job calling on all students and not only those who are actively participating and raising their hands. My positivity and excitement is demonstrated through the way I teach, and my supervisor shared that I look, speak, and act like a teacher. Another validating comment my supervisor made was that I do a great job incorporating other units of study for the class into my lessons. For example, in my last lesson on economics, I was able to incorporate a few applications of what the students had been learning in math, reading, and writing. Application of material will help the students remember what they learn!
Sophomore Block has been a very rewarding experience filled with growth, challenge, and excitement. I know I say this often, but I am so excited to become a teacher!!
I am going to end with a few quotes from my students from my conversation I had with them this morning as to if they would rather be able to breathe underwater or fly in the air. I also included a quote from a student who was very excited to show the class her new pets this morning. I think my students’ comments are cute, so I hope you enjoy them too 🙂 I also will attach my remaining reflections if you would like to read those. Reflection from week 1 and week 2 can be found on my previous post about Sophomore Block called I Am A Sophomore, and I Am Teaching!
“Do you guys want to see my new pets? They are rats! They are pretty camera shy, so no promises that you will actually be able to see them.”
“I would rather fly in the air because then I can be high!”
“I would rather be underwater because I can become a great swimmer.”
“I would rather swim underwater because…ummmm….I can see fish that I have never seen before.”
“I would rather fly so that I could see everybody’s houses.”
“I would rather breathe underwater because I am already a good swimmer. Think of how good I would be in the water if I could stay in there longer!”
“I would be able to fly in the air so that I can touch the birds!”
“I would rather fly because if I breathe underwater then I will become a fish, and the gills block you from…well breathing underwater blocks you from breathing in the air because otherwise it sucks in the air instead of the water and you won’t be able to breathe to get back to your family. So, I would rather be able to fly.”
“I would rather breathe underwater because I love swimming and I want to be a mermaid!”