I can say, without hesitation, that my pre-internship at Lumsden Elementary School (LES) has been the most valuable experience of my Education degree thus far. At the beginning of the semester, I was asked to make an educational philosophy. In short, what do I believe about education? I’ve always had a difficult time finding an answer to this question. How do I write about my educational beliefs if I have not practiced what I preach? My field experience has allowed me to put my educational philosophy to use.
I had three goals at the beginning of my pre-internship: to be confident in front of the class, to create classroom management, and to create lesson plans that model inquiry based learning. I would say that I met two of my three goals successfully. In order to be confident and create classroom management, the most important thing for me to do was create a positive relationship with the students. I did this in a number of ways. I always made sure to greet the students in the mornings, I interacted with the students at recess through conversation and even played football a few times, and I established a level of trust with the students by demanding respect. If the students were not being respectful during a lesson, I would stop the lesson and wait for them to give me their respect. Although this was awkward and discomforting at times, it sent the message to the students that I was their teacher and deserved respect. Establishing a relationship with the students at the beginning of my field experience made each week easier because the students respected me and appreciated my lessons when I taught.
Creating lesson plans that model inquiry based learning was difficult since I was only in the classroom one day a week. I usually taught a different subject each week, therefore there was limited time for me to create an inquiry project for the students. Inquiry based learning is not something that can be completed in one period; inquiry learning is a process that takes times. This may be a goal that I focus on during my three-week block next semester because I will have the opportunity to focus on a specific subject.
One goal that I did not plan for was teaching for social justice. I taught two lesson plans focused around white privilege and family privilege. Although this was discomforting at times, I am proud of myself for taking the leap to teach about privilege. I think it is important that students recognize their privileges so they do not take them for granted. For my white privilege lesson, I created a video where the students explained what white privilege meant to them.
Lesson planning is still an area that I have some questions about. Learning how to create a lesson plan has been very valuable because I finally understand how to plan and layout a lesson (set, development, closure). However, I still struggle with the formality of lesson planning. I believe that my lesson plan should be made in a way that works for me. Therefore, my lesson plan will not be identical to another teacher’s lesson plan. I also find some of the requirements of a lesson plan repetitive. For example, my classroom management strategies stayed the same from week to week because I made my expectations of the students clear from the first week of pre-internship. Therefore, I do not always see the purpose of writing classroom management strategies on every lesson plan. I very rarely used my lesson plans during my teaching experience because I already knew the structure of my lesson.
I learned the most through my cooperating teacher at Lumsden Elementary School. I appreciated how willing she was to share her ideas with me and always gave me constructive feedback. She always shared her ideas about how I could improve my lesson plan by providing me with various suggestions. Then I was able to watch her teach the class and see her ideas and suggestions put to use. She illustrated how important building a relationship with the students is, especially in a middle years classroom. The biggest thing I learned from my cooperating teacher was flexibility. If I had to define teaching in one word it would be flexibility. There were multiple times in my lessons where things did not go as planned, technology failed, or time constraints interfered, and I had to adapt to make my lesson work. I can confidently say that I have grown in my ability to adapt my lesson plan since the beginning of my field experience. I have learned that thing do not always go as planned and as a teacher, you have to “roll with the punches”. Flexibility is something I would add to my teaching philosophy after having completed my pre-internship at LES.
My field experience in the grade 8 class at LES has been a whirlwind. If you were to tell me that 8 weeks would fly by so fast in the first week of my placement I would not have believed you. I have learned so much from the students, the staff, my classmates, and most significantly, my cooperating teacher. I would say my biggest area of growth would be my confidence. Thinking back to my first lesson, I was anxious, nervous, and constantly looking at my lesson plan. After eight weeks of teaching at LES, I’m able to successfully stand up in front of a class and teach a lesson. I think the reason for this is due to three key aspects:
- Creating positive relationships with students
- Being flexible during a lesson plan
- Demanding respect from my students
When I think back to the start of the semester when I was asked about my teaching philosophy, I would have answered based on what I thought the professor would want to hear. I can now say that my teaching philosophy is my own. It is my beliefs based on my experiences at LES. I have come to the conclusion that no teachers will teach the same. Instead, teachers must find a way to teach that works for them and their students. My teaching philosophy belongs to me, and although it will change as I gain more experience, it will always be mine.