This semester was the first semester that I had been in a high school classroom. Since I hope to work with elementary or middle school students, I was a bit nervous to work with an older age group. I got to work with a Sculpture I class which was mostly grades 10, 11, and 12. Working with this class helped my understand a bit more how projects are organized, as they are much more complex and time consuming at the high school level. Another thing that I learned was that at this level, students are much more independent and need a lot more freedom than I have experienced in the past. Students must rely on their own self-motivation and passion if they want to be successful. By observing entire lessons, I got to see the how lessons are introduced, the how expectations are explained, how to adjust work time according to the pace of the students, and how to critique work in a variety of ways. Another helpful thing I learned was how to create and use assessment in the classroom. We learned about assessment in lecture and in my methods class, and Mrs.Robinson provided us with the resources and observation to put it into use. Finally, I learned to be more at ease around the students. I am now much less intimidated by this age group and enjoy the advanced thinking and skill that they have.
By observing several different classrooms and interacting with my students this semester, I have found that I like to have a good balance of high expectations and but also maintaining a relaxed environment. I have found that I like more organization than I thought I did before and realized how important it is to maintain a clean and safe environment for students. Also, I have realized that I am a little more firm on deadlines and expectations than other teachers may be. When it comes to building relationships, I tend to try and be more humorous and found myself asking many questions. I was surprised at how involved students were inside and outside of school.
For my first lesson, we did a simple slide show before students got to work. For the second lesson, we had several activities planned and worksheet that the students did independently as well as an interactive group discussion. I tend to like more interactive activities where students guess and answer questions as opposed to teacher directed lessons. In other classes I have observed, there are multiple ways that the information is delivered and through multiple activities before doing a final assessment. I hope to do the same with my class since repetition is effective and will help build skills before creating a final work.
Because of my time volunteering with two different special population groups this semester, I feel very confident making accommodations for my students. I have learned a lot about how to observe students and their needs and put it into the lesson plan. I had the opportunity to volunteer at Fossil Ridge High School in a class that had very high needs, so that has modeled a lot of great strategies and planning that I can utilize in my own classroom.
Overall, this semester has taught me so much and really prepared me for student teaching. First of all, planning extremely important, which I knew to an extent, but now understand more. And it is not only important to plan for the instruction, but planning for accommodation, how you will assess, what materials will interest students the most. I really feel like I have learned about the fine details that go into pall of those now. This semester has also only increase my opinions about providing choice in materials and freedom in the concepts. Now, I have seen how a higher level of students work, and there is much more motivation and confidence than I expected, so I can plan curriculum to this higher level. Finally, I have a much better understanding of how to interact with high school aged students. I am not intimidated to talk to high school students, and I feel much more confident about leading my own class now.