What a week!! The fact that I managed to get this blog post done at all is a miracle. for the last 5 days I have been on prac (professional experience, placement etc.) at one of the local high schools and it has been a roller coaster!
One of the most challenging things about being a pre-service teacher is that no matter how great you are, or how fantastic you teach, at the end of the day you are still just ‘taking over’ someone else’s classroom. If you’re a perfectionist (like me) you will spend hours personalising power point slides and creating interactive activities for your students so that your lessons are fun and engaging – but all of this means absolutely nothing if the students don’t want to listen to you.
This was getting me down a little last week – I put so much effort into my lesson plans BUT for some reason I kept getting “flat spots”. Eventually my supervising teacher (I actually had 2 for this placement so lets call this one ST 1) pulled me aside and told me that the reason the kids weren’t engaging is because they didn’t know a thing about me. They were being polite and copying when I told them to copy, doing the activities that I asked them to do, but the reason I kept getting “flat spot” was because the kids didn’t have any interest in me. This amazed me ! At university we are consistently told to “get to know your students” and to “draw up class profiles” but nobody had really emphasised that this relationship is actually a two way street.
So I rallied. My next lesson – instead of starting the students off with their learning goals I asked them if there was anything they wanted to know about me? Anything at all – it was a little awkward at first, and for one terrifying moment I thought that no-one would ask anything, but then a girl in the second row meekly put up her hand and asked “Miss, why do you want to be a teacher?” And then we were off – I told them my story, once the ball was rolling they didn’t hesitate, they asked all about my prior (unsuccessful) university degree, where I grew up and what my dogs names are – by the time we got around to discussing the learning goals they were all listening and there was no trace of “flatness”.
I tried this approach in my next 2 lessons and SUCCESS!! I had broken down a wall (there were still quite a few walls left but HEY any success – even the small ones – are worth celebrating!!!).
I will be returning to the same school in term 3 for three weeks so I’ve planned to make a little slide show showing pictures of me at different stages of my life to kick off the “getting to know Miss” segment of our lesson.
This week was a valuable reminder that there is more to teaching then just knowing the content – #pedagogicalknowledgeonpoint
Thats all from me (I have bulk assignments to write 😉 )
Until next week,