As I mentioned earlier in November, I have started my first official journey as a teacher mentor, having my first student teacher experience. It has been an incredible experience so far. It is so fortunate that my students have a second adult to connect with and knowing that I can help a future teacher with their career. I have enjoyed learning from her and learning with her. This Friday marked the end of her third week with my students and we discussed all of the things to come, one being her unit plan. Planning a unit when you have been teaching for a few years is a whole different task compared to someone in school. When I was in school, I do not remember learning how to plan a unit. It is extremely hard to know what resources to use when you are in school or in your first year. Over the years, I have acquired so many great resources and those are hard to know about when you are just starting out. So something I have made sure to do so far is to pass on the locations of these resources, describing how to differentiate with them and how to lesson plan using them.
Having a student teacher is a great way to reflect on your practice. Reading over the mid-term evaluation made me reflect on many things about my teaching. I think it would be very beneficial for all teachers, no matter what year they are in, to reflect on these questions. Take time to pause and reflect on the following:
- Do you demonstrate knowledge about how your student’s learn?
- Do you organize purposeful student learning experiences?
- Do you foster decision-making, problem-solving and inquiry?
- Do you show insight into individual student’s progress?
- Do you differentiate assessment techniques?
- Do you provide written and verbal constructive feedback?
- Do you have a consistent approach to student behaviour expectations?
- Do you maintain a safe learning environment?
- Do you motivate and sustain class involvement?
- Do you adapt to the needs of all learners?
- Do you generate enthusiasm and respect for subjects?
I started to reflect honestly about how all of these are evident in my daily practice. There are so many things to think about and a few of these have not been given enough time and effort as the years have gone on. I would like to reflect on one of the questions that stood out to me the most.
Do you organize purposeful student learning experiences?
Sometimes I find it hard to “reinvent the wheel” when teaching certain subjects such as History or Science. I look to use already created units made by colleagues that are kind enough to share. These units are great, they cover all expectations and provide the students with great readings, opportunity for responding and some inquiry projects. When I think about it, are they purposeful learning experiences? I am not too sure about that.
Recently, my students participated in a media literacy unit where their culminating task was to plan an advertising campaign to advertise “Sportswear Day” for the school. Leading up to this task, they evaluated the effectiveness of professional advertisements, responding to what worked for certain audiences. This had a purpose as it would lead to the eventual creating of their own advertisements. My students created posters, videos and announcements that incorporated students, teachers and celebrities, paying attention to the effectiveness of celebrity endorsements. These ads. were sent to all classes and the posters were hung on the walls. The school spirit was immediately uplifted by this ad. campaign; students and staff were looking forward to this spirit day.
The experience of creating advertisements for a purpose and hearing day after day about the success of each ad. was a purposeful experience that I am glad my students had. They are more likely to remember it when they have graduated and were involved in the learning experience. I look forward to creating more of these experiences in the future, especially as I continue to mentor my student teacher. As we head into the winter season, I hope to have a locker decorating contest, incorporating art expectations and having classes come view these lockers. We would ask these classes to vote and look at the data, commenting on students responded and why they responded the way they did.
I really appreciate this opportunity to mentor, not only to help a future teacher but to continue reflecting on my own practice.