I always write stuff down with a pen and paper and keep everything in binders... Never been big into typing or online work, but I do enjoy being able to document my writing and experiences in a place where I won't lose it.
So, I want to write a few blog posts about my experiences, learning, and reflecting that has taken place during my pre-internship placement.
For those who do not know, I am placed in a community school for my pre-internship and I am working with a grade five/six split class. These kids are at about a grade one-three level for the most part, so this makes teaching them grade five and six content challenging. Getting to know each student has helped a lot in how I can approach teaching and I continue to learn what works and what doesn't work every single day.
I have built strong relationships with each student and I feel like three weeks is just enough time to build trust... just in time to leave them. I am very sad to be leaving this class because of the relationships that have been built. These students are coming from some tough backgrounds and they come into the school hardened and angry a lot of the time... some times not having eaten since the last time they were at school or not sleeping at night for many reasons... It has been a challenge to reach some of them. The rewards of being able to engage students who don't want to be in the classroom and to see them light up when something interests them is so incredible. I feel as though this experience has even more so solidified my desire to teach. I am so passionate about being in the lives of children and being someone they can come to when they are in need. Not only this, but I love being able to teach students and try new things with them and watch learning take place.. education is so powerful and I truly believe we have the greatest and most important profession in the world.
Attached is a link to a book talk I did on the book, The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir.
Today was our last day at School until March! So crazy how fast it went. We had a lot of hugs today and sad little faces when saying goodbye, but we had a super fun day together.
I always start my lessons with review from last day so I can see where students are at and if they were paying attention. My focus today was to give detailed instruction, but I also focused on asking many different students for answers to my questions so I could get a feel for the entire class. For my last lesson, I did a fill in the blank using food labels! I started the assignment by going through some of the blanks with them at the beginning so they understood what they were supposed to be doing and then I had them working in partners to complete the rest of the fill in the blanks. Things seem to go a lot smoother when I take my time to go through instructions and give clear expectations.
For today, Carina and I made 'zines' for each student. They included some sweet quotes and affirmations as well as a personalized note for each student. It is pretty crazy how attached you can get after only seven days with these kids. The students loved their departing gift and they all had many kind things to say.
One of the most challenging boys came up to me and said, "Miss Fedak, I am really going to miss you for three months." which totally made all of the difficulties worth it. Another student told me they weren't coming to school until March when we come back which was so cute but we had to have a talk about that! One of the girls asked me to come over to her house which I told her couldn't happen which made her sad but it was so cute how much they just wanted to be around us. This experience was such a challenge but so rewarding!
Today when students came back from lunch, I was just jumping into my lesson for the day. I asked everyone if they thought they would have enough energy to do 25 jumping jacks or dance for one whole minute. I got them to physically demonstrate if they could do it and there were a couple students who did not participate so I used them as an example. I said that they must not have enough energy to do anything right now and so we will talk about how we can help them get the energy they need!
Students wanted to learn about calories and what that is and so that is what the focus of today's lesson was. This is the first day that I did a demonstration but I am so glad I did because it was a hit! After we watched a video and talked about what energy is and where it comes from and how it is measured, we did a demonstration.
So, I brought in three different foods:
3) Orange Juice
I put the three foods/drinks at the front of the classroom and asked students to think about and tell me which food would have the most calories in it. Of course, their answer was the chips! I went on to demonstrate what 100 calories of each of these foods looks like.
100 calories of carrots is 2.5 cups of carrots.
100 calories of chips is 10 chips.
100 calories of juice is 1 cup.
I then asked students which food they would choose if they were very hungry but only wanted to eat 100 calories. They chose the carrots because you get way more food!
I was so pleased with how this activity went. We finished class by talking about how many calories different people need in order to live and explained why some people need more calories or energy than others.
Today was an exciting day because we had been away from students for two weeks! The students all came in with hugs and excitement. They wanted to fill us in on the last two weeks and what they had been doing and wanted to know what we did. We got settled in and did our morning routine of checking in with us, writing in their workbook and having snack.
For today's lesson, I was doing an activity focused on food labels and packaging. I started off by reviewing last days lesson and then we watched a video to get started and students were expected to write something down on a sticky note about what they want to learn more about. We then split off into groups and had a sheet that they had to fill in with all of the information they could get off of their food package.
There is always going to be students who aren't happy with a lesson or they are just having a bad day and today one of my boys was not excited with his group that he was assigned. This particular young man has a hard time with moving on once he is mad and so I had to have a conversation with him. Sometimes I think he just needs someone to stop and listen to how he is feeling and then he is able to move on. He ended up working on the project by himself which was a better experience for him and I realized that it is important to have different options for students because some times children do not want to work with others and that is okay.
Today it is Halloween, so we expected students to be a little bit more excited than usual. We had students come and go throughout the day because they wanted to get Halloween costumes for after school and that sort of thing. I am not used to the amount of fluidity that occurs at the school and it is interesting to see. There was a lot of energy in the classroom, but we continued on with our day as usual with our morning check in and snack. All students seemed to be ready to learn, but we went downstairs for first class which was Indigenous studies and we watched some videos which got everyone extremely hyper. After this we had to head back upstairs to teach.
Teaching today was a challenge with all of the excited bodies in the room, but I used my classroom management strategies and made sure that I laid out my expectations very clearly. I made sure that I explained verbally what student's jobs were, but I also wrote instructions step by step on the board to provide a visual. Half way through the activity I also revisited the instructions to make sure students were on the right track. One of my favorite strategies to use is the "I do, We do, You do". It seems to work well with students.
Another thing I worked on today was slowing down my speech and taking lots of time to make sure all students understood the activity. I think overall it went better than previous lessons.
We started the day with our journals again and had snack. Two students that had been missing for two weeks were back in school today… one of them was related to the victim of the recent murder in Regina of a 16-year-old girl. This undoubtedly affects the students and the community. I think that it is important to incorporate difficult subjects and events that happen in our community into the classroom but how do we do that in a respectful and meaningful way? Our students are extremely gang affiliated but it is never talked about out loud at the school. It is just something I can’t help but think about. I think a goal for me in the future would be to talk to my co-op teacher and principal about what the situation is like and how many students are involved in gangs and how we can address it within the school.
The day began with my health lesson on food labels. We started off by reviewing some stuff we talked about last week and students actually did remember some good information that we went over. They also shared some healthier choices they made throughout the week. Today I made sure to lay out my expectations at the beginning of class because last week I didn't and it was reason for some disruptions and every student was awesome throughout the lesson. They like to jump in and comment on things and answer questions out loud, but I would rather they are excited and want to contribute rather then them not being engaged at all. In my previous lesson I changed my expectations about having hands up half way through the lesson which may have been confusing, so today I made sure to stay consistent with my expectations.
After getting through the opening of my lesson and the video we watched, I had students write a letter. We have an hour to teach a lesson with this class so that is a lot of time for ten-year old students to be focused. Each week I learn more about how I need to approach my lessons. Today I think that I needed another activity or a break brain incorporated because students writing stamina is a lot lower than I expected. This is fine, I just needed to adjust my lesson in order to keep them engaged in learning for the entirety of my lesson. Another one of my goals is to focus on more adaptations for some of the students who have diverse needs, such as, our student who is new to Canada and can’t speak any English or our boy who can’t write at all.
During Physical Education, we played tag and dodge-ball for the third consecutive week… I think there is a lot that can be done in a Phys ed class and this was an interesting thing to see. I was thinking that maybe Carina and I would be able to do a Phys ed class at some point throughout the semester. After lunch, Carina did her lesson and students really struggle with the afternoon so we are working as a team to think of ways that we can keep students on track and engaged in the lesson. I think it would be important to get them moving around the classroom more in the afternoon or even do brain breaks half way through to keep them focused. Carina did do a kahoot with them online and that was a total hit!! Super fun to see the kids so excited about something.
Finally, I wanted to share a joke that one of our students came up with:
“How do grandparents make mashed potatoes? You Kohkum and Mosom!”
Today was challenging but I had some very sweet moments which really helped me focus on the big picture. In the morning when we did journals again and when they came to check in with the teacher, one of the students asked me if I could check her book… for this particular day they had to say what inspired them and this young lady wrote, “Miss Fedak inspires me”. I felt like I was already making a difference in these kids lives and that is so amazing because they definitely need that love and care from someone. In Carina’s lesson some of the more challenging kids were refusing to work so I put my charm on and somehow was able to get them involved and I felt really accomplished from that. I found that the more I was able to joke with them and open up about my life, the more I could get out of these students. I think it has to do with the relationships that I am building and by opening up, they trust me more with what I am trying to do.
We then went outside for Phys ed and again I had some awesome moments with the students and getting them involved. I played basketball with them and it was super fun. After lunch when it was time for my lesson, I was quite nervous but I thought it went okay. I taught a lesson on healthy eating and how to fuel our bodies right. We have an hour to teach a lesson which is a lot for these students so I learned that I will have to focus more on my classroom management and having more flexibility and movement throughout my lessons. They have a hard time staying focused for a long period of time so I want to work on changing things up often for them. Overall things went fairly well and I look forward to building on my lessons with these students and learning more from them each week.
When I was driving to the school for my first day as a pre-intern, I felt extremely nervous. Many people had told me about how challenging this particular school is and it is always nerve wracking going into a new school where you don’t know anyone! My first impression was that the school looked extremely old and it was, but it was clean and well kept. The school has a lot of Indigenous symbols and culture all around the school. I never noticed any books representing any indigenous content but there was at least representation throughout the school.
Our students all came in throughout the morning at different times and looked tired. The students begin their day by writing in their journals. They recorded how their sleep was, if they had eaten that morning, how they felt about themselves and others and if they were ready to learn. They then came up to grab a snack for breakfast before beginning the day. Teaching in a community school is a lot different than any other school I have been at. Our teacher said that she just lets the kids come in and she sees what their energy is like and goes from there. This is so different but is the only way to go about teaching a group like this because there is a huge amount of diversity within the classroom and they are coming from all different kinds of homes.
We did an intro activity and it did not go very smooth. We learned that we have students from a grade 1 level up to grade 6 so it is an extremely diverse group and we had a plan for grade 6 students who are at a grade 6 level. We also have a student who is new to Canada and can’t speak any English yet. This was a big learning day for us. We learned how important it is to know your students before you make big plans or lessons for them.