From Student to Teacher

Hi! My name is Brittany May, and I am an Elementary Education major at the College of William and Mary. This blog is all about my journey through education... the questions I have and the answers I find, as well as lessons learned along the way, in this never-ending learning process of being a student and becoming a teacher. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Today I had a rare and delightful experience... being able to kick back and visit with my cooperating teacher while the students were at P.E.! We discussed classroom management issues, talked about lesson plan ideas, and shared cute and funny stories about some of the students. Our conversation took a more serious note with the topic of "uninvolved" parents. She mentioned that one particular student's parents had not been in the classroom or even been in contact with her since the very beginning of the school year. No replies to notes sent home, no parent-teacher conferences, no communication whatsoever. At first, I was annoyed with the thought of how this inconsiderate behavior would make it difficult for the teacher. But my perspective and sympathy shifted from teacher to student when she commented, "Yeah, way to show your child you care about them, huh?"

What message does that send a child, when they draw a picture and leave a note for their parents on Open House day, and then the parents never go and miss that gift? Or when they're in a play at school, or have a special presentation, or a game for a sports team, and no one is there to see them and cheer them on?

I began to understand why this particular child is always seeking attention and seems so sensitive and "needy"... she's insecure. My feelings of frustration and annoyance at the parents turned to pity for the student. Every child needs and seeks encouragement and approval from those they love or look up to. Love is a basic human need. I began to understand how much of a void is left when they don't see it expressed. This really pulled on my heart strings! Knowing where this child is coming from sort of automatically increased my patience for her attention-seeking. More than anything, it reminded me of the critical role and incredible potential a teacher has, and it reinforced my determination to a make a difference in my students' lives. I can't be their parent, but as a teacher, I can show them that I sincerely care about them and their future. This is hope and desire for making a difference is the very core of why I want to teach.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Teaching With Technology, Part 2

After teaching my technology lesson, I had the chance to observe a friend teach hers in a 5th grade classroom that opened my eyes to a deeper perspective of teaching with technology. Her lesson was phenomenal! She had the students using the school laptops to learn longitude and latitude by tracking hurricanes. I was extremely impressed with the entire thing. What I was most impressed with was how she handled everything. She did a wonderful job teaching the lesson. The students obviously had experience with computers, but the novelty of having laptops created a surge of excitement, along with some rather uncooperative and disruptive behavior. What did not help was the fact that her cooperating teacher skipped out on the whole thing, and was not there to help. I marveled at how she remained composed and kept going, despite the students' behavior and even through technological glitches. What I learned is that technology can be a wonderful tool for education, but the students have to be taught how to use it before expecting them to use it to learn any content. I now understand how necessary it is to also have the proper support in the classroom to monitor and facilitate learning with technology. It can be a powerful and effective tool, but only when these things are in place.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Teaching With Technology

Right before the Thanksgiving break, I taught my technology lesson for my Implementation Project. I was really excited about this one because I knew it would be fun! I worked with my classmate, Emily, in developing the lesson, under the guidance of our cooperating teachers. The actual planning of the lesson proved to be somewhat difficult at first. After developing our first lesson, we quickly realized we had grossly overestimated the computer skills of most first-graders. Because I haven't had much experience teaching with technology (and unfortunately don't see it too often in the classrooms), I really didn't know what the students were capable of. Our cooperating teachers, as well as the computer teacher, advised us and really helped us develop a lesson that would both meet objectives of the curriculum and engage the students at an independent level.

We found a book called, "A Plump and Perky Turkey" by Teresa Bateman, and used it for the literature portion of the lesson. Our cooperating teachers had previously taught a unit on the different components of a story (i.e.- characters, setting, etc.), so this served as a review for them. They had not yet learned about the plot, or sequence of important events of a story, so this was the primary focus of our lesson. We developed a Kidspiration activity that would assess the students' comprehension of the material taught and which involved the students classifying the characters, different settings of the story, and the sequence of important events into their respective categories from a picture bank. This matched several first grade Technology and Language Arts standards (according to Virginia's Standards of Learning).

Overall, I think the lesson went very well! The students loved the story (as did their teachers!), and they seemed to grasp the concepts we taught. Some students had difficulty putting the events of the plot in order, but this was their first experience in doing anything like this. Most of them caught on quickly. What made me smile was how excited they were to be going to the computer lab for a language arts lesson!

This experience taught me that technology can be easily incorporated into "regular", conventional subjects. Before having this experience of planning a lesson with technology and actually teaching it, I thought using technology was a wonderful way of making lessons more interesting and I wanted to use it, but I sort of assumed that it would require a tremendous deal of effort and could only be applied to limited topics or subjects that catered to creativity and ingenuity. While some pieces of this may be true to a degree, I now truly see how technology can facilitate the learning of a concept even better than more conventional methods for a subject. Something as "normal" as a story in language arts can use technology and it didn't require a "computer geek" or "Teacher of the Year" to come up with it! I've been encouraged, and eagerly look forward to future opportunities to use technology in the classroom!