Friday, August 28, 2015

Timing is Everything

It’s cliché, I am well aware. But I can’t express to you enough how true this statement has become for me.

Timing is, in fact, everything.

Throughout this semester, I will be completing my student teaching. I began my experience last week, and so far, all I have to say is wow.

For now, my only complaint is waking up at 4:45AM every day, which is well worth it the moment I step into school.

My cooperating teacher is incredibly supportive, and despite only being about a week and a half into my experience, I already feel more relaxed and more prepared for my future career. As I have started to teach more, she has been giving me resources to reference for ideas, as well as for general practices that I can use. I am so lucky to be working with such a dedicated teacher.

Photo I took of Big Ben in January 2014,
since timing really is everything.
Moreover, the students I am working with are among the best students I have encountered. When they come into class, they’re always eager to begin and they’re willing to put themselves out there. This was not the case in my field experiences last year, so seeing this stark contrast firsthand has been a learning experience.

Overall, I’m finding it difficult to put into words how amazing my experience has been thus far.

Now, I must confess, my experience hasn’t been sunshine and butterflies the whole way. I’ll admit there have been some minor bumps in the road, but so far, nothing earth shattering (and I’m hoping to keep it that way).

This is where timing comes in. I’ve taught a few different lessons over the course of this week, and I did not plan enough activity for one of my lessons. I am teaching two freshmen English classes, and we did an activity to foster a team-oriented environment earlier this week.

The activity itself was phenomenal. My students were really into it, and they were able to conclude the activity with the outcome I was hoping for: how to have a successful classroom environment in which everyone feels included and respected. The lesson worked and I couldn’t have been happier.

What didn’t work, however, was timing. The discussion we had as a class after the activity was one of the best discussions I’ve had in a classroom, but I had to drag the conversation out a little longer than I would have liked, as I feel like after a certain point, my students started to become a little antsy.

In hindsight, I should have included another activity so that downtime at the end of my lesson wouldn’t have been such a big deal.

Looking back, I could have included another short team building exercise so students would get to know students other than those at their table. I could have showed a short portion of Tom Wujec’s 2010 TED Talk titled “Build a Tower, Build a Team.” Or, I could have made the challenge a little more difficult so students had to work through a more difficult problem.  

While my lesson ended up working well, and timing ended up being just a small portion of it, I definitely felt better prepared for my lessons later in the week, which had no timing issues at all.

In fact, my lessons later in the week, which were about writing territories, went really well. Granted, I taught the same lesson four times, so by the fourth time, I had it down to a science, but each time I taught it, I realized more of what my students need from me, which leaves me feeling more prepared going into my lessons next week.