Journal day 1 – Tuesday 9th April 2013. Survivable; Vive been placed in a grade 7 class. Feeling like I’m out of my depth in terms of my math ability. Need to email Did and get a grade 7 math text book. The classroom is beautiful, located on the top landing of the hall opposite the computer centre and library. The room is well-lit with wrap around windows allowing light to fill the entire space.
The classroom overlooks the original school building on the right, and the landmark “big The room’s walls are covered with posters, maps, and general classroom information such as: PC and art groups, netball and hockey fixtures, minders about homework and assignments. The classroom is well resourced, with many books, a smart board and a P. C on the teacher’s desk. All learner’s have their own desk, and desks are grouped together to form groups of 3-4 learners. At the front of the room, two learners are seated outside of groups, and are placed near the teacher’s desk. (Will find out why).
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Classroom size; small. 25 learners per class. One class per grade. Resources on walls History posters made by the learners Xhosa posters made by learners Clocks – showing time zones Huge world map Assembly: informal, lots of signing of hymns. Teachers make use of the piano. Learners make announcements concerning sport, art competitions, fundraiser etc. There is complete silence during assembly. The school building and grounds are immaculate! Neat and beautiful. Bee. Lee, my class teacher, is also the deputy principle (has been for 10 years now) has been very helpful and accommodating.
She has arranged to meet with me later today to discuss the following: 1 . The curriculum. 2. My teaching times. 3. And my supervisor visits. First lesson of the day, English, taught by Karri Pewter’s. (All learner’s address all teachers on their last names) The girls are reading a book called: “Love, David”, they re about 20 pages in right now. After reading a few more pages more, Mrs. Pewter’s discusses “character sketches”. She poses the following: what is a character sketch? The learners respond, and she builds on their answers. She then divides them into groups, placing stronger learners with weaker ones.
They are given a piece of newsprint and 1-3 characters from the book to develop a character sketch of. They are then told that every bit of the poster needs show evidence from within the text. (Not sure if I agree with the way the groups have been divided, uncertain if I will apply this same technique in my classroom. ) The girls then split off into their groups and are given 20 minutes to start the task. (The posters are a continual activity, which the learner’s will be working on for a few weeks) some groups remain in the classroom, while others go off into the library, or sit outside and start their work.
They groups are comfortable with the task and that all learners are participating within their groups. I have also signed up as an assistant coach for the uh netball (these will be the girls that are in my class, and because there is only one class per grade, his should give me some time to get to know the girls outside of the classroom) Sands, the sports director, has also informed me that I will be teaching this P. E Thursday. Vive decided that I would get stuck into the teaching and am also teaching drama on Wednesday.
To add to this I am going to do my English assignment (reading aloud) with the girls tomorrow, as this coincides well with the English timetable (English is not taught by the class teacher, so there is less room to play with in this subject) Teaching strategies seen so far: Group work – English. Pairs work – Afrikaans. Even though they are in grade 7, they still need constant instruction, and require guidance throughout the lesson. They ask many questions, some relevant, other questions: “where do I underline? , “does this go into my general filer, “can I draw a boarder? ” Etc. Some learners Teachers use this often – peer learning, seen in math, Afrikaans and English. The staff has been extremely helpful at this point. The teachers have provided me with many textbooks, worksheets, notes, and DVD’s. Day 2 Wednesday April 10th I read aloud to my class today, I felt confident all the way through, although I did reactive many times. While recording my reading for my English assignment, my cell- phone ran out of phone onboard phone memory.
I should checked this beforehand but I was so focused on not stumbling over works or reading too fast that the thought of memory did not cross my mind. However I will definitely be checking all technology before teaching from now on, so big learning moment so far. English teacher feedback on my reading aloud: Kept good pace Kept learners engaged Remained calm during “technical difficulty’ Provided good tension Self-criticism before watching the recording : I felt I read too fast. Messed up a few words. I feel I read too fast, as I read more I began feeling more at ease.
I tried my best to create different moods as the text required a shift in tension and pace. Self – criticism after watching the video: The book I read aloud to my grade 7 class was chosen by the English teacher, ‘Love, David’ is the second book the class is studying this year with a new book studied each term. I would have liked to select my own book to read to the class, but as English is not taught by the class teacher, but by a specialist teacher, contact time with the class is structured and she is not very legible with her time.
I would have liked to have read the entire book before doing my reading to the class, but I was told the day before the doing actual reading, and did not have enough time to do so. I did however have the time to catch up to the chapter that the girls had reached. I tend to read too fast, and stumble over words because of this, so I practiced read chapter 23 many times making sure I was aware of where to pause, where to change my tone of voice to enhance the story. I wanted touched on serious topics such as child and substance abuse.
The class seemed exceptive, however a few of them were distracted by the camera moving around the classroom, many of them followed along in their books while others listened. While reading I felt confident, and I wanted to ensure that my pace and volume were appropriate. While recording Than realized that my phone had run out of memory, but she managed to record half of my reading on her phone. This caused a break in the reading; I stopped and informed the class of the technical difficulty, and proceeded. I worried that is break would make the class restless.
To ensure that all learners where still following I reread the last few lines. The girls focused throughout but I’m uncertain if they enjoyed my reading, which was my goal, as they are not read to by the teacher, but rather take turns in reading aloud to the class, while doing this the teacher marks them, these marks are then recorded as a “reading aloud” mark, which forms part of their English term mark. The teacher said that despite the failure in technology, I did not seem at all frazzled. She did however say that tone and volume are important, however so are pauses.
I will have to practice. I also felt that my stance was not very relaxed, by standing in the front of the class I made the recess feel far more formal than it was which made me more nervous than I probably should have been. What I learned: In future I will definitely remember to check all “technology’. Communicate your aims to the class during the lesson/ before the lesson. This is important as it provides you with a lesson “goal”, but more importantly, makes the learners aware of your expectations and therefore what is expected of them.
Why peer learning works in this class: the class sizes are so small (25 learners) and the learners exercise self-discipline, which is needed for this type of exercise. Observed a brilliant geography lesson; taught by the class teacher Mrs. Lee. She incorporated geography and English and history skills into one assignment. I like this type of teaching/learning, where the content is fluid between subject disciplines. I find that if subjects are too rigid they act as tiny pockets of knowledge which can only be applied to certain context.
Mrs. Lee asked the learners to research a natural disaster that has occurred in the past 50 years. The second part of the task asked the learners to act as Journalists, and compile a font page of a newspaper, reporting the vent that has Just occurred. Learners then discussed newspapers, there layout, content, purpose etc. Followed by a brief discussion on maintaining an authentic history. Learners suggested that if your natural disaster occurred in 1954, your front page would not contain adverts for cell-phones or computers. Math lesson; started off feeling like gar is daunting and difficult.
However since then I have made up my mind that this is a challenge and the perfect time for me to a) catch up all math work. B) become somewhat of an expert in gar mathematics. So today I revise all decimals, and email Did for grade 7 work. Day 3, 12 April 2013 Meeting with Bee (class teacher) to discuss lesson planning for next week. All teachers (English, Technology, and Social-science) stress the importance of backing up sources with evidence from the text. This is also linked to “habits of mind”. My challenge so far – thinking of interesting links/ hooks to start my lessons with.
As most teachers here start their lessons off in a very traditional format: “okay class today we will be studying fractions, take out your “Math is fun” and turn to page 67″ has given me my topic for my critic. Lesson on the 24th (Mass Moos and the advent of Islam in West Africa) – must start planning. The teachers have been extremely helpful, the P. E teacher has given me a DVD for my dance practical, and has instructed me to plan movement lessons for the next two weeks ( has she hates teaching dance and movement) I am very keen to start planning lessons, I have so many ideas.
Day 4 Friday, 13 April I have collected resources for my lesson (AS Geography) decided that for my 1st critic. Lesson I will definitely be teaching history, I’m very pleased with this as am very comfortable with this subject. Need to collect information from Mrs. Peters. Who is teaching this section for the first time this year and is also in the process of researching this topic. As Misfield is an independent school, teachers have free reign in designing and implementing a curriculum. This seems like a ton of work, but far more interesting than Just following the CAPS document.
PLAN PLAN PLAN for the 24th. In terms of classroom management and discipline: When asking the girls to be seated or to be quiet; I was faced with this from one learner: “why are you asking me, but not them? ” I have responded to this in the following manner: I have spoken to X. After thinking about this I decided that this is not the correct approach as the learner should not question my methods of discipline. Next time I will respond with “X I am talking to you, therefore you should listen to me” or “X when I am talking to you, do not question me about other learners”.
Definitely having an issue with on opposition learner, who I probably Just testing me. It seems that I need to take on a more authoritative role. As of now I have been the stranger who sits at the back of the classroom taking notes. My first lesson is on Monday, need to think about how I am going establish myself as “teacher”. I found that when I am alone with them in the classroom they walk around as they please, talk as loud as they want to, but when a teacher walks into the room there is a hush. I’m not sure if they are Just scared of their teachers and the silence the teachers receive is perhaps not based upon respect but fear.
I would never want learners to fear me. Perhaps stating ground rules? Will think about this over the weekend while planning lessons! Could not be more excited about this? Starting to realism that teaching is made up of many hours of planning, only to have things change 5 minutes before a lesson. Classroom dynamics: Girls are constantly “fighting” teachers on their instruction. For example the teacher divides the class into groups, they try to swap group members. Then when the task is stated, the groups argue and become increasingly chatty.
The work ethic is then affected, whereby some girls do not work, and others beg for them to keep quiet and do the required work. The size of the classroom: The size of the room is small, and the desks are really close together, learners are on top of each other. The room itself is very well resourced; O. H projector Soundboard T has P. C on her desk Ceiling fans Each learner has their own locker pads photocopy machine girls chat about: books, Justine Bibber, netball, hockey, inter-house duties and high school, and pass notes to each other constantly.
In English: “can you back that up? “; “show me the evidence”. – when discussing the book (Love, David) learners present proof of character sketches, some learners struggle with task of presenting text as proof. Peer learning and marking; (in Mathematics) Learners make fun of teacher behind her back, while she is writing on the board. Is she out of touch? Or is this Just normal 12-13 year old behavior, which I rate it is. However it is evidence of disrespect. Are they bored? Monday, week 2 15th April. FIRST LESSON TODAY! Graphs in AS) Very excited but also very nervous. I have designed a work sheet, and planned, planned, planned a lesson to perfection. Bee. Seems happy with the content and the slideshows too. Lesson was supposed to be 30 minutes. Mine lasted 25 , which Bee said is “k”, however I planned for 30 minutes so therefore I either miscalculated with my time, or perhaps rushed over the content. What I have learned, always plan an additional “something”, a puzzle, a question, an activity etc. Although I was very reverse I feel like by setting my one golden rule: respect.
The girls saw me within my teacher capacity. The class was responsive, and discussed content readily, they also participated well within their groups. Because I planned for responses to questions I felt prepared. They seemed to enjoy the lesson, but I know I could so this lesson better! They loved the “imagine” part of the lesson, more so than anything else. I feel like this served as a very good lead in/ hook. I LOVED IT. The experience was incredible, cannot wait to do better. Felt confident while teaching Answered questions with ease
Too static, need to use the entire room when I teach The content needed more high order questions to make the lesson more of a challenge Because I started the lesson off by stating my golden rule, the learners were well behaved and responsive. Furthermore, they saw me as a teacher and not a note-taker. Enjoyed it so much, I approached the life skills teacher and asked her if I could teach the lesson at the end of the day (which I planned for over the weekend) Life skills “creative problem solving” I thoroughly enjoyed teaching this lesson; the girls seemed to truly enjoy participating too.
I did however forget to play a slideshows that I had planned for them, its content was not critical to the lesson. Very good experience as I got to see the girls work together in groups which I placed them into and work effectively! And produce creatively designed products. They also understood the task and could link it to the content. I was not nervous at all! Despite forgetting to show the girls the slideshows, the lesson was a success. I do feel like I could have included more content And not rush over the content that I did prepare Perhaps by including a worksheet of sorts, with scenarios to which the learners
I decided to focus on two subjects today namely mathematics and natural science. I will be teaching math in the last week. Questions asked by learners and teachers in math lessons: How many of you have been to the Waterfront? – Blank stares, a few raise their hands. And how many of you have been to Signal Hill? Same response. Well then why have you answered that the distance between the Waterfront and Signal Hill is 21880km? Does this make any sense? Girls stare blankly at Mrs. Lee, a few giggle. This is very interesting to me; as the girls have not made the connection that the
Waterfront and the Signal Hill in the math text book, is the same Waterfront and Signal Hill in Cape Town. The knowledge within the text book is seen as abstract, and far removed from the physical location of these places, and most importantly, they have not linked their social knowledge to the school knowledge. – research this! History: By learners; “may I read aloud? ” By learners; “can I write this note in color? ” By teacher; “why are you not writing this in your book? ” Learner; “l was going to stick it in afterward” Teacher; “Just write it in your book” Teacher; “what evidence do you have to substantiate that?
Teaching drama: Did not set the tone; need to remind them of the golden rule; as this really helped within the geography and life skills lesson. Teaching a drama lesson is very different to teaching a “classroom” based lesson Learners expect a certain care-free attitude from the teacher; I was not comfortable teaching drama so I maintained my normal classroom composure. Drama teacher allow learners to control the lesson, weak discipline in enforced, she also does not know all the learners names. This is shocking.
The girls take advantage of this, which affects the way she teaches and the way the lessons are received. I could have explained my aims more clearly, so they are also more aware of my expectations of them. I also could have explained the rules of the game more explicitly I should always give equal amount of positive feedback, felt that some learners (one group in particular) perhaps did not receive enough positive feedback- feeling rather guilty about that. Subject: creative thinking. Girls are discussing possible fund raiser ideas. Girls brainstorm in groups.
Debate skills Public speaking skills Group work skills All learners take turns in reporting back, and answering questions. T calls on learners o respond, when a learner answers a question T remarks and uses a peer learning method to revise. Wednesday 17th April Teaching an art lesson: Far less formal than the classroom environment, this should be obvious, but I Just did not think about this before teaching. This does however impact on behavior of the girls. Need to strike a balance in creating an expressive environment, and a disciplined one, which seems contradictory.
Walk around, build self-esteem of the Focus on the task, keep reminding them of the end product goal Don’t not focus on the time, as learners work at different paces Be relaxed I was lucky enough to re-teach this same lesson the following day, and I felt like it was a MUCH better lesson, I reworked the handout, ad included a color-wheel, and more examples of lettering I also found some really interesting alternative acoustic music, and played this while the girls were getting on with their work, this changed the entire atmosphere of the room, and the girls were so focused while working.
Would love to test this in normal lessons, playing soft back ground music while they get on with their work. Thursday, 18th April Teaching drama today: Planned a lesson for 30 minutes. Exercise body percussion: I feel like I still do not give clear instruction. Or perhaps do not remind them of my expectations while they are participating in group work. Order the instructions in a clear fashion so that it is logical Do not bring any notes along to critic. Lessons- I agree, they make me nervous and I become so obsessed with time, and sticking to the time frame I set for each section of my lesson.
Therefore: know the structure of the lesson so that I am confident, and do not forget to do anything that I have planned ( like I did with the life skills lesson) Today’s question: what kind of resources are used within he classroom/ teaching? Textbooks: used in all lessons as the primary resource. Teacher uses her knowledge, and the knowledge of the textbook, and teaches in a lecture style. I find this very boring for both the teacher and the learners. Smart board: used as a white board, the teachers do not use this tool effectively. No interactive activities, one or two videos have been shown.
I use the board more than the teacher does. Started planning my art lesson. Decided that the classroom needs more of the girls work on display, therefore I’m thinking that they should design name tags for their lockers. Friday, 19th April All girls school, with an all female staff. Chatted to Bee about this, and she says that they rarely receive male applicants. The girls are having a few social issues: spreading rumors, talking behind friends backs, inviting friends to parties, and being controlling. Mrs. Lee had received a phone call from one of the girls parents, which prompted this lecture, which she deemed a “motherly talk”.
The girls seemed like they didn’t really know what she was talking about, so the entire talk seemed like a waste of time, it would have been far more helpful if this topic was discussed in a fife skills lesson, whereby the learners provide the stimulus for debate and discussion, as no girls spoke or offered any reasons why and how things like this effect people, a more interactive approach may have served as a better means of conveying her message. Observed a life skills lesson today on peer mediation- NO VIDEOS PREDATING THEIR BIRTH. They have zero interest, and show no connection to the characters in these clips.
I questioned them as to why they did not like them and one response was that they feel too old, and scripted. The slug and fashion were out spectrum of interest. Taught dance today as my first critic. Lesson: Thought lesson was a great success, girls worked well in groups and produced creative and original work Tries provided me with great feedback, which I will evaluate and put into practice for my next lesson My instructions were clear My music was a disaster, but luckily I brought along back-up music which was not as appropriate as my first choice but served its purpose.
Tries agreed with this point. Week 3, Monday 21st April Teachers conduct and plan lessons in a traditional format and style. Some assign work, but learners remain seated throughout the lesson, I don’t like this, and feel like hat lessons should differ in format and pedagogy. Some learners ask questions but these are often low order Teachers often question learners regarding their behavior How are lessons interlinked? History and geography are taught by two different teachers, I find this very silly as these two disciplines are interlinked and can be taught in far more interesting ways.
Learners could study culture and history of a time and link this to a place, then build on this knowledge. The same could be said for technology and Natural science to develop creative and critical thinking. I read something which said something to the effect of “your child’s future Job has not been invented yet”, surely then schools and subject disciplines should encourage creative and innovative thinking, a linking of subjects, so that school does not feel like a far removed concept from the real world.
As a side note it is evident that some subjects are seen as vital whereas others are viewed as “wish washy’, this is evident in the attitudes of the girls. Math is important, but Xhosa and life skills are mere “fillers” in the timetable. Tuesday 22nd April Teaching geography: planned an entire lesson; made informative/ interactive lodestones, downloaded the perfect videos ONLY to have my hard drive crash 10 minutes before my lesson. But I managed to teach the lesson despite this failure in technology! The girls still seemed to enjoy the lesson As a precaution I’m going to email ALL my lesson resources to myself.
I will try and work in the content of this lesson at a later stage. How do teachers enforce control? Talking Shouting Demits Singling out learner; and reprimanding them individually Walking around the room while learners are getting on with work Nothing Rewarding them with early break Perhaps a group point system should be introduced, this system was used in my remarry school and is useful in controlling behavior, keeping the classroom neat and clean (something these girls struggle with) by assigning weekly tasks to each group, awarding groups for participation in class activities.
Teaching methods Group and pairs – allowing the learners to teach themselves, student centered Thursday 23rd April Studying the habits of mind: the following are posters found on the classroom walls, the teachers make reference to these in classroom, assembly and on the sports field. It is however clear to me that the teachers do not model these habits of mind for the earners to see, furthermore they are referenced but not applied as readily as they should be. Taking responsible risks – I have not seen this habit of mind referenced in any lessons.
Applying knowledge to new situations – this one is called upon by the T in group work scenarios, but the learners are not aware of how to apply this habit. Listening and understanding with empathy – this is one that could have been brought into a life skills lesson regarding peer mediation, and even the talk that Mrs. Lee had with the girls on friendships, and what is means to be a good friend. Thinking about thinking – metrification, referenced often, but again I feel as if these habits are very far removed from the girls in a practical sense. Finding humor – not seen at all.
Questioning and posing problems – evidence found in Math and Natural science whereby the teacher guides the thinking but does not teach to convey facts. I feel that this is a very useful habit in building learner confidence. Responding with wonderment and awe – seen evidence of this in my own lessons on natural disasters Remaining open to continuous learning – teachers exercise this habit very readily Creative, imagining and innovating – no evidence of this Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision Persisting Thinking flexibly Managing impulsively Friday 24th April Self-critic.
History lesson: My lead in was a success, I grappled with whether or not I should tell the girls to be respectful as the topic of discussion is one of a deeply personal nature (religion) and we need to be respectful of this. While driving to school I decided that this would be necessary as Just the day before the girls watched a video on praise singers, and the giggled all the way through. I did not want to offend anyone in the class, thus the acclaimer. Clare questioned this, and seemed happy with this decision.
I certainly feel like I made the right decision. I need to work on my on my lesson timing, perhaps running through a lesson before teaching it, this doesn’t seem all too practical. I needed to change things within the lesson plan as I battled with keeping to the time frame I paced for. Strategies for slide shows: need to find ways to make slideshows more interactive and less like a lecture; as this doesn’t work for kids of this age, who need to be more involved in a lesson, as they do not like concentrating over long periods of time.
Week 4, Monday 29th April For this week I will be teaching Math for my critic. Lesson. Last week I set a goal for myself to “teach math confidently’. This has been a struggle for me up to this point because I have such a negative attitude towards the subject. Math has never been my strongest point, and I carry a lot of insecurity regarding the teaching of this have been working very hard over the past two weeks, studying and doing may worksheets on fractions ad integers, and so I feel like I can teach these sections and feel more comfortable.
Not sure if I have taken on too much by teaching a math Essen as a critic. Lesson, but I feel like it is necessary to tackle this problem. Tuesday 30th (My birthday) The girls have been so wonderful, and up to now I have not mentioned how much I am truly enjoying this experience. I have learned so much in terms of teaching, and feel like Vive found my passion, as this NEVER feels like work! A few girls bought and made gifts for me, I’m completely overwhelmed by their kindness.
Teaching Drama: Felt like the lesson went well, however I made a few errors in my warm-up Thought my instructions to the girls were clear as they produced dynamics” which ere to my satisfaction Liz seemed pleased too, and offered a lot of feedback concerning the technical side of drama But did not offer much in terms of HOW I taught the lesson, which would have been very helpful at this point Wednesday 1st PUBLIC HOLIDAY Thursday 2nd May teaching a Math lesson: T instructs learners to take out lined paper, and take out their textbooks In pairs – multiplication with three numbers; mixed numbers, the scrap paper is a “board” teach your partner step by step.
Demonstrating and explaining every step of the way Exchange this with another pair and mark this I have noticed that when T reads out the answers, but offers no explanation Learners do not ask any questions Some mark their work, others don’t do anything at all “Why are you not underlining your answers? ” No CAPS = very flexible with time CAPS is too prescriptive Ask too much of learners Too little time to structure learning Teachers are assessing each other for the next week, sitting in on lessons, and revising lesson plans. This is done every term. Very useful; teachers are critiqued on their teaching style, use of technology, actual lesson plan. Refreshing to see. Friday 3rd May Comparing two teachers