Teaching in the Classroom – A Summary of My Teaching Practice with Reflections on Becoming an Intentional Teacher
My ten weeks of teaching practice was a period of tremendous growth for me both personally and as an educator. I was assigned to a private school here in the Cayman Islands for my teaching practice and my class consisted of a group of ten individuals seven of them boys and three girls. The students possessed their unique personalities and set of circumstances, therefore it made for an interesting and often challenging period. The cooperating teacher had over thirty years of teaching experience and was a very talented and concerned teacher. She had been the cooperating teacher for the two previous years and therefore was familiar with the process. She taught the fifth grade class and therefore this was where I completed my practice.
During the first two weeks I observed my mentor teacher, her teaching techniques, her classroom management strategy and the discipline that she insisted on in her classroom. The task ahead of me seemed a bit daunting but one I was excited about. I did not truly understand what I was up against until I actually began co-teaching during the next three weeks of the practice.
The three-week period of co-teaching was a time when I had to learn the fastest the strategies I would need to survive as a teacher. For me preparing the lesson plans for the three subjects I taught - Mathematics, Science and Social Studies, was the greatest challenge given my time constraints of only having 24 hours per day to work with! Besides for keeping my family life running smoothly and assisting my 2 school-age children with their homework and a two-year old who demanded my attention, I also had assignments to complete for my two courses that term in the Diploma in Education program. I often functioned on very little sleep but I made it through and experienced immense growth, becoming a better person in the process.
During the final five weeks of my ten-week practicum I completed my independent teaching. My cooperating teacher offered her advice and recommendations as to what I needed to do to make my lessons more effective.
At first my lesson plans included a list of objectives, but they were not directly linked to a set of assessments that would measure how well the class understood the topics covered during the lesson. Dr. Minott who was my local evaluator recommended that each objective stated in the lesson plan be tied to some specific assignment that would measure and indicate that the class understood the content of the lesson. Doing this gave my lessons more direction and I could see that this strategy was highly necessary and effective, for although they usually completed an assignment which was directly connected to the lesson, the responsibility was placed on me to make sure that the objective had been met by way of the students’ ability to complete the assignment. I also found that I could not try to include too much in each lesson, as each lesson period went by very quickly. Simpler lessons are shorter and more easily digested. Dr. Minott also pointed out the importance and effectiveness of reflecting back on each lesson after I had completed it so that I could think about the steps I would take to improve how I had taught and how I may have handled a particular situation. I learned that it is of utmost importance as a teacher to be up front about behavior and very clear about what you expect from your class otherwise many students try to see what they can get away with doing and will be very disruptive.
During my teaching practice I had the opportunity to observe the enthusiasm of the music and Spanish teachers, their unique teaching styles and classroom management techniques. I could reflect back on their lessons and decide what I would take from their styles and what I would do differently. I was able to develop a good relationship with each child
because of the small class size and I was happy for the opportunity to have good talks with the class about the
importance of having self-discipline for all areas of life and that it was important for the class to take on a more mature
outlook on their studies as they were going to enter high school within a few months.