What was a positive highlight in your teaching week?
My original goal was to start presenting lectures this week. Instead, I got to sub for all of Mr. B.'s classes on Thursday and Friday! I absolutely loved the opportunity to try it out on my own. I had a lot of fun, and learned a lot. It’s much harder to run five classes, most of which are back-to-back. I asked the subs for feedback both days. Both said they loved my energy, passion, and enthusiasm for the material. I made the subject matter entertaining, and I switched up the lesson and activities a lot so students had little chance to become bored. They both said that I need to work on firmer classroom management skills, but that was normal for beginning teachers. I completely agree. When students start talking when I’m talking, or when another student is talking, I need to stop and be silent, as opposed to raising my voice louder, and louder. This was helpful feedback, and I’m going to start practicing that next week.
What was your biggest challenge this week?Teachers are critiqued and evaluated based solely on their students' standardized "benchmark exam. I've always thought this was an unfair practice. Teachers compare scores with each other question-by-question to see who "dropped the ball" and who needs to "pick it up" in specific areas. Schools compare schools. No wonder, my master teacher is always in a bad mood afterwards. How can you evaluate teacher performance based on a single standardized test? The worst is that teachers are told to compare their scores to previous years. There are just too many variables in such a small sample size. One class can be vastly different from the next. One year is not enough time to implement and evaluate the true, long-term effects of a change. Yet, teachers are encouraged to make changes every year, based off last year. Many assumptions are being made, and false conclusions are being drawn from poor data.
I lived this frustration today. My students took their first benchmark exam and averaged D-. It was like a punch to the gut. I had tried so hard to teach them. We used activities, labs, discussions, assessments, etc., etc., etc. I stayed after school and skipped lunch to tutor students. To make it worse, my MTs 4th period Bio, which he taught solo, averaged an entire letter grade higher. I was desolate. I feel like it's my fault.
My MT was very comforting and supportive, but it's hard to shake off. I know I should expect to perform like an inexperienced teacher, but it's a slap in the face when your student performance suffers because of it, despite your best efforts. I suggested that maybe my students weren't able to demonstrate their knowledge because they don't have enough practice with the multiple-choice format. We're going to use a practice M.C. test to help them review. Having a possible solution to the problem, one that I can actually use and measure, made me feel better, even if it doesn't work. At least I have a plan of action.
At the end of the day, I love being in the classroom. I love the students. As long as I focus on that, I will be okay.
What aspect of teaching do you hope to work on or refine next week?
I want to continue gaining experience in leading the class for lectures and labs. After asking for feedback from Mr. B., I need to work on slowing down the speed of my speech. That’s the biggest thing I want to work on right now since I naturally talk fast. I also want to work on my classroom management skills, especially ensuring that 100% of the class is paying attention when someone else is speaking (silence, eye contact, proximity control).