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Now that I have had some time to relax and reflect on the past semester, I figured I might as well share with you all some of the challenges and triumphs I had during the first year of my teaching degree and what I learned during my time in grade 5, as a teacher.
Starting my second semester in January I really thought I had gotten everything figured out. I was organized, ready, and eager to have all of my ducks in a row this time when it came to juggling life as a mum, wife, and student-teacher. But, yet again, things still did not go according to plan and for a (brief) time, I was reaching a mental breaking point.
I started my second practicum feeling overwhelmed and unprepared. I panicked, my flight instinct starting to kick in, and I was ready to hit the brakes on everything – but I did something else instead.
And suddenly I switched into fight mode. I sat down with my teacher mentor, and then my faculty mentor, and I put all of my cards on the table. I told them where and why I was struggling and they were more than happy to help me create a plan of attack so that I could finish my first year as a student teacher strong. And after I talked to them I started to feel that motivation that I had somehow lost in all the chaos.
And I did it!
I successfully taught grade 5 and made it through my practicum!
We put my plan into action, I took the advice that I had been given by these two strong, intelligent women – both mothers themselves – who have been in my shoes and have learned ways to juggle being 100% present for both their families and their students.
And I’m happy to report that I finished off the first year of my teacher degree even more passionate and dedicated to teaching than I started back in September.
And here are 5 extremely valuable
This is what I learned as a teacher:
1. Plan for FAILURE!
And I mean this in the most positive, productive way. While we always want to deliver lessons that are engaging and perfectly structured, this isn’t a realistic, everyday classroom expectation. Especially as a new teacher. That’s why it’s important to always have a plan B ready to go. Just in case things don’t go according to plan. This can be as simple as a worksheet. Or an entirely different lesson that you can swap for, depending on the situation you are dealing with.
2. Leave your classroom 100% ready for the next morning.
My teacher mentor did this every afternoon. I think it has a lot to do with her success as a teacher and student-teacher mentor. She is a serious ROCKSTAR! (Love you, Donna ♡) This is probably the most valuable thing that she taught me in this practicum. You could plan to get to class early enough to make copies, set up stations, or collect supplies. BUT, doing these things the day before will let you relax when you get home. Knowing that your class is ready to go, you can focus your attention on your family. Way more important than thinking about what you need to remember in the morning (or the line-up that you might run into at the copier), right?
3. Larger learning space = more classroom management.
It’s like the old proverb “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.” Out of the 8+ lessons that I had to prepare for this practicum, 3 of them were outdoors. One of them was even a walking field trip through the community! (I prepared a rock scavenger hunt to find samples to examine for our unit on the rock cycle). I learned that by giving the students more free space, it was like giving them permission to behave freely. However, despite some behavioural challenges, needing to use my loudest teacher voice to be heard, and a bit of rain, I was able to pull off all of these alternative environment lessons without any major issues.
4. Silence is golden.
What I mean by this is that you need to wait until your students are completely silent before moving on. Even though it’s going to feel super weird and awkward as you stand there and eye-ball students, waiting for them to shush, YOU MUST BE PATIENT! Wait until every single student in the class has their full attention on you. Even if it takes forever. This is definitely easier said than done, and I think most of my classmates would agree with me. But when I waited for them to show me they were” ready to learn” (the phrase I used to signal to my students that I was looking for silence), it was much easier to keep their attention and move forward.
5. Sometimes the reason why a student is acting out and craving attention will break your heart.
An integral pillar of being a great teacher is building relationships with every student that walks into your classroom. Being a naive, new teacher, I went into my practicum thinking that my biggest struggle with relationship building would be remembering 23 new names by the first day. I might not have had them all memorized, but by the end of my first
And so I interacted with him in the most positive and proactive ways that I could. As much as I could!
In grade 5, kids are starting to feel the emotional changes that come with puberty and hormones. These chemical changes are mixed with peer pressure, family expectations, and the increasing responsibilities of school, sports, and social life. At this age, kids can begin to struggle with their mental health. By choosing a career as a teaching, I am putting myself in a position to identify and help these students. I’m taking on the responsibility of their mental health and emotional well-being, as well as their intellectual growth and achievement. This is something that I choose to do, that I love to do, and that I was meant to do. The saying used to be, “those who can’t do, teach.” Now, it goes something like this…
Teachers teach because we CARE!
Are you an educator? What was the most valuable lesson you learned as a student
Make sure to check out these related posts by Mrs Mum:
- What I Learned in Grade 5 (as a TEACHER!)
- Media Literacy – Teaching in a Digitally-Informed Class
- Global Education: Fostering World Citizenship in the Classroom