(This post was written back in February/March. I am a bit behind on the practicum updates but hope to catch up this week!)
This week at Hart was a perfect storm of March Reading Madness (a month-long reading program), a 1 1/2 week long Scholastic Book Fair, preparations for Authors in April, digital citizenship classes, and the 8th grader’s research gallery walk (where parents are invited to see students present their research papers). The media specialists and I were all juggling multiple projects during the day and communicating through Google Docs by night. I am starting to see that I prefer interacting and teaching students, even though the busy work of putting together different programs (making posters, raffle tickets, book brackets, setting up for the bookfair, selling books, calling vendors for donations, etc.) is in some ways easier/less stressful. (When I have a lot to get done in a short amount of time, to-do lists comfort me. They are great visual reminders to take one step at a time, that everything will get done, that there’s an end goal in sight, etc.)
I really enjoyed getting to teach digital citizenship classes to four 6th grade classes and 2 7th grade classes. Some I taught by myself, some I taught with the media specialist, and one I taught with the health teacher. I really liked teaching solo and with the media specialist, but not so much with the health teacher, mainly because I had to teach his material. It was really hard to go through someone’s slides, because the health teacher had different stories that he wanted to share with the students that I couldn’t possibly know about, so he kept interrupting me to add his points. Though he did this politely, I thought it made me looked unprepared in front of the students. I felt that it would’ve gone better if he let me insert my own anecdotes when I was speaking, because ultimately we were both giving students examples of online safety, netiquette, etc. and it shouldn’t matter whether they heard his specific stories or not.
When I co-taught with the media specialist, we used a presentation I had put together, but she and I had sat down a couple of times to discuss each point, and together we added or took out information that we thought were important or redundant. We collaborated well, and in the classroom, when she was speaking she’d ask me if I wanted to add anything, and I’d do the same when I was speaking. The process seemed easier with her…possibly because I have been working with her now for two weeks, whereas the health teacher and I have never crossed paths before the first class.
In our sessions with the 6th graders we also decided to let the students talk instead of us lecturing them about the topic. For the most part, the students enjoyed the interaction…they had many stories to tell! We also decided to use a simple exit ticket to assess whether they were paying attention to our presentation, whether they learned anything new, had any concerns or questions, or had suggestions for topics we didn’t cover. I was impressed by some of the students’ feedback, and concerned too that so many of them (still babies in my mind!) were worried about being bullied, or having to stand up to bullies, etc.
Overall, this was a great week. I’d heard many horror stories about middle-schoolers, but they were actually pretty cool to work with!