Considering that this week was my first time ever teaching an actual lesson plan, I surprisingly think that things went smoothly! This week, my teaching partner and I team-taught a Phys Ed lesson on factors that influence popular sports/games around the world. I found that planning the lesson was challenging, and I think that my partner would agree. Neither of us has any experience teaching Phys Ed––we both study English, and it was difficult to create a lesson that was meaningful in content while at the same time incorporating some sort of physical activity. These were the two factors that we considered most while planning our lesson. From my experiences in school, Phys Ed is often the “forgot about class”––where students usually spend the year playing dodge ball or capture the flag. My teaching partner and I wanted the students to play a game (after all, this is their period for physical activity), but we also wanted the students to get something out of the lesson.
My teaching partner and I agreed that our target for this week would be classroom management. Classroom management is something that we both find intimidating, but we figured that being in a big gym with 29 grade 6 students was the perfect place to practice! Overall, I think that our lesson went really well! The students quickly grasped the concept of the lesson and took part in several strong class discussions. The game we planned, “Chase the Dragon’s Tail”, also went over really well. Everyone participated, everyone was cooperative, and the kids all had fun playing! To help with our classroom management, we had several strategies in place throughout the lesson: First, we thought that being in the gym for the entire lesson might be distracting for the students, so we started and ended the lesson in the classroom––having our initial class discussion in the classroom before going down to the gym, and the coming back to the classroom to debrief after we played the game. While we were in the gym, another classroom management strategy that we used was blowing a whistle to get the students’ attention. Both of these simple strategies seemed to work well, and we were pretty much able to keep the kids focused throughout the entire lesson. On the odd occasion that the students did not respond to the whistle, we were able to focus the group by asking, “Are we listening?” I found this strategy useful as well because it made the students accountable for their own behaviours, and they were quick to change them if they were not meeting our expectations. After how well this lesson went, I am a little less intimidated by classroom management. In the weeks to come, I will be teaching another Phys Ed lesson, so I am relieved to have found a few strategies that I know work with this particular group of students. I am also excited that I am beginning to build a repertoire of classroom management strategies that I can use in the future.
As well as the lesson went, there are definitely areas where I could improve. This week, team-teaching was an issue for me. Looking back on the lesson, I felt as though I took control a lot of the time. This is not out of habit for me––I have a Type-A personality––but it did get in the way of our team lesson, as I often jumped in while my teaching partner was instructing. Immediately following the lesson, I apologized to my teaching partner, as I did not want her to think that I thought badly of her teaching in any way. In addition, I discussed my concerns with my co-operating teacher. She said that team-teaching can be difficult for even the most expert teachers and that it takes practice. Team-teaching is definitely something that I want, and need, to work on for the future as I think that team-teaching can be valuable in the classroom.
One of the hardest parts about entering a new classroom is not knowing who my students are, so it always a goal of mine to build strong, genuine relationships with the students. In 8 weeks, that can be challenging, but this week I started to build individual relationships with some of the students, and I am so excited! One student in particular, Evan, came up to me at the beginning of class and said, “Miss. Martin, I have a serious question for you: Do you like waffles?” I proceeded to tell Evan that I prefer pancakes over waffles, and he shook his head in disappointment. This became a running joke between Evan and I for the remainder of the day. It’s funny how Evan and I were able to bond over such a silly thing, but I think that this interaction shows that Evan felt comfortable enough to approach me and to be silly with me. This week we also went on a skating field trip with the kids. During the trip I helped some of the student tie their skates or clasp on their helmets, and on the way home I sat next to a student, Hannah, on the bus. Even though these interactions were small, they are the building blocks for relationships.