Reflective Summary - First Week Classroom Observations
The major thing I learned from our group discussion was that there are many different ways to handle all the different things that will happen in the first week of class. The trick is to use the proper technique out of all of the available choices, to make the experience rewarding for the students. For example you wouldn’t discuss the classroom rules the same way with a grade twelve class as you would with a grade nine class. With the grade twelve class you can review the existing rules, and have class input about them. Grade nine’s entering a new school need to know what is expected from them in that environment, and so it should be laid out clearly for them. With Grade nines, the rules may also need to be reinforced for a little while, correcting the incorrect behaviours.
Another important point that came out in the group discussion was the importance of being organized. It is very important to show the students about being prepared and organized, because if we as teachers aren’t, how can we expect it of our students. Even the little things like having the course outline prepared to hand out to them, with extra copies for those students who lose it in the first week. Having a seating plan with their name, and what they prefer to be called. This not only demonstrates to the students that you are organized, but it shows respect to the students. The classroom environment should also be organized, and kept neat by the students.
Along with good organization comes the need for flexibility. I personally sat in on one class that required flexibility, and I heard stories of similar situations. The teacher would expect that the students would come into the class having a certain set of skills, and they would not. To be able to change quickly to a lesson plan of a different skill level is necessary because you never know what level your students will be at in any given topic. Instead of going directly into a review assignment of the previous years work, the teacher had to go through the process of teaching the material to some of the students. This required organization and flexibility in that some students went on with the plan, and the teacher had to spend a lot of one-on-one time with a small group of students. If the teacher had been inflexible, the students would have fallen behind right from the first day, and it would not make for a very welcome learning environment. I believe this was the best way to handle that situation.
I think these qualities that were observed are important in any workplace environment, but especially so as a teacher. We need to be able to demonstrate and teach these skills to the students, so that they will be prepared once they enter the workforce.