On the board in our classroom we have a poster that says, "Life is tough, but so are you!"
24 January 2015
The past few days have been exponentially warmer than most. Late January and earlier February bring minus forty weather temperatures, hoarfrost upon trees, and the treacherous ten feet of snow. However, as of late, the weather has been in the positives and the roads have never been filthier. Pot holes are becoming exposed and therefore puddles are everywhere! I was driving home from university the other afternoon and noticed kids jumping around the sidewalk to dodge puddles. There was a boy that misstepped and landed into a dirty, deep puddle. Somehow, my mind wandered to my students at practicum. I believe a lot of them are going through life, dodging circumstantial obstacles. I sat at the red light and watched students walk by, one by one. I am fortunate to learn many things from my students. Many of my students lack family support, proper hygiene habits, and healthy relationships. So today I am thinking of them on a personal level and mentally giving each one of them a high five for trudging through each day and progressively working on their education.
18 January 2015
It was Friday afternoon and the class was excited for the weekend. The afternoon included building simple machines out of recycled bits and pieces and then a double physical education class. The teacher stepped out momentarily to talk with the school principal. I was supervising the class and a fight broke out in the corner. Each group was working on a simple machine within their table groups. The table group located in the corner believed in a democratic system. If two kids wanted to build something a certain way and one didn't, tough luck for the one kid. It was two against one. A young girl starts crying and I walked over to aid the situation. Well... by the time I got the table, the noise level increased exponentially. I pulled the upset girl away from the situation and talked with her about being a team and working together with people. She sauntered away and sat down in her seat. Out of the corner of my eye, I see one of the students pick up the hot glue gun that no one is allowed to use. I ran over to the glue gun and asked him why he disobeyed me. He said, "Ms. Pauls, I'm sorry but you were busy and I know how to work the glue gun". I proceeded to discuss with him the ramifications if he got hurt. He understood and apologized. The classroom was settled and the teacher returned. She was pleased with the noise level and the overall demeanour of the classroom.
The class then got their gym clothes ready and left for gym class. Ms. Hemphill and I had a two period prep time where I got to learn a little bit more about the class history and her day-to-day difficulties. Due to different academic levels, Ms. Hemphill arranges the classes according to their learning journey. She incorporates different ideas and concepts to get the kids motivated to learn. She is a member of the progressivism teaching philosophy family. She works incredibly hard to find individual growth for the students and compiles different lessons for a variety of academically inclined students. I feel more connected after being set up in my practicum for a week now. I am excited for this coming week.
15 January 2015
We had a class discussion involving the different views of teaching in the school system. The students believe that the curriculum of the class is the year outline and the context of the class is how the teacher proposes the curriculum. My interest in the topic sparked when I read, D. C. Phillips’, Theories of Teaching and Learning. He wrote, “Another complexity arises from the fact that teaching very often takes place in institutions (schools, colleges, churches, families), and thus to some degree is shaped in its goals and methods by institutional demands. To the extent that these institutional demands are legitimate, they complicate and in some sense loosen the relationship between learning theory and good teaching”. Teachers educate their students based on common sense, misconceptions, truth, and research. At the start of every learning theory class our professor asks the class what learning theory is. Learning theory is a set of assumptions about how learning occurs based in the fields of educational philosophy and educational psychology. Determining a dynamic philosophy was our first instruction to establish our individual learning theory.
Today was an eventful day at practicum. A young boy was suspended for jeopardizing the safety of other students, teachers, and the administration of the school by yelling violent threats in the classroom. I witnessed the appropriate protocol led by the teacher. At the end of the day, Ms. Hemphill looked at me and said, "Hey, just another day. All you have to do is keep calm and teach on. Tomorrow is a new day". I am glad that I was present for the incident because there are tendencies of violent nature in my classroom. When the next incident occurs, I will know how to execute the proper safety protocol according to Donwood Elementary Public School.
My supervisor at Donwood Elementary School asked what age I would like to specialize in. I expressed interest in the middle school age group. However, Donwood only goes to grade five. The supervisor advised me that there was a grade four/five split class due to numbers. She informed me that the class was high energy and administration often had to help out with some volatile cases. Today I was introduced to Ms. Hemphill’s split grade 4/5 class.
The class is expressive in nature. I quickly became involved with their classroom meeting and I pulled two students with learning disabilities aside to help with their French workbooks. Ms. Hemphill has a set of rules for certain students with distracted minds. She does not believe in yelling at the students even when her patience is tested. After the children packed their backpacks, she pulled me into the class and said, “So, are you in? Because I would love to have you help out. You connect well with the students and I need someone to take initiative with this group like you do”. I felt very honored and needless to say, I accepted the position in the split grade four and five classroom.
Today was my first day of practicum at Donwood Elementary School. I was introduced to a grade one class of sixteen students. Within the first hour, I could have written a list of amusing moments. However, my favourite included a little boy asking for my hand in marriage. He leaned over to my while I was colouring with another student and simply asked, “Ms. Pauls, are you married? Cause I don’t see a ring on your finger!” I laughed and acknowledged him by stating that, "No, I am not married". He advised me that he had enough money in his piggy bank to buy me whatever ring I wanted, he just had to wait till he was a 'dad' because he was only seven years old. His admiration was innocent and sweet. That evening, I felt a closer connection to my passion for teaching and learning.
We were asked in our learning theory class to express a concept or previous ideas of our teaching and learning philosophy. I had developed a coaching philosophy however, not a teaching philosophy. I believe different experiences will enhance different perceptions and ideas of my philosophy. To gain a better understanding of my teaching and learning nature I took part in a survey called ‘Education Philosophy Inventory’. It gave me a pre-determined concept of my idealistic philosophy of teaching and learning. I cultivated many ideas around my personal philosophy and did research on how others view themselves. I found that I have experienced different teaching scenarios and my philosophy has been ever changing. However, the ‘Philosophy Inventory Results’ gave me a better indication as to what environment I want to teach in. I believe in existentialism. It stresses the importance of individual capabilities and personal emotions. I prefer teaching in an environment where individual choice surpasses the idea of rational theories. Our world is ever changing and therefore, as a teacher I will explore other ideas. The next perspective that was cultivated was progressivism. I strongly believe in the importance of student interest and personal growth. I believe incorporating personal experiences into the classroom leaves a lasting positive effect. I believe in new ideas and progressively changing routine material. I am excited to help students achieve their academic and personal goals as individuals.