Earlier this week, I had my first observations as a student teacher, and while there is a lot I still need to improve, there is also a lot that I learned from the experience, thanks to the feedback of my university professors. A couple posts ago, I talked about how important it was for teacher’s to assess themselves regularly, so that they can make changes towards becoming a better educator. But sometimes, there are shortcomings that are difficult for one to recognize, and thus, peer feedback can be just as important as self-reflection.
When it comes to embracing peer feedback, it is crucial for teachers to be flexible. Being flexible means having the ability to recognize things that need to change, and putting in the effort to reshape yourself. So if another teacher notices that you do something that could be done in a more efficient manner, it is important to take that into consideration, especially if it is coming from a peer who is a veteran educator. If you were to just brush off the advice of your fellow teachers, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Without listening to the voices of others, it can be hard to grow or improve as an educator, and that is why we must approach feedback with an open mind and a willingness to be flexible when it comes to change.
In a way, that is why I am grateful that my first observations were not perfect. As a student teacher, this is the time to make mistakes and to learn from them, and in doing so, I can work to craft myself as a better teacher. One of the areas that I could use improvement on was relating the material to the class in order to get the students excited, or at least more engaged. This is essential to social studies courses, because you can tell the students everything they need to know about a subject, but if they can’t find a way that it fits into their lives, it’ll be hard for them to truly care about what it is you’re teaching. In my case, the lesson I taught was on different types of maps and measuring scale, which is a very dry subject that most 6th graders won’t find much care for. There were moments where I was able to reel in the class, but overall, I can definitely understand why it is so important to relate the material to the students, so that they can absorb and apply the information more effectively.
Another area that I needed to improve upon is my use of proximity within the classroom. During my presentation, I mostly stayed at a desk behind my computer so that I could switch between slides. However, as my supervisors pointed out, being able to move around and being closer to where the students are sitting helps to keep behavior under control, which is crucial for managing a class of hyperactive 6th graders. Additionally, having closer proximity to the students also tends to break down some barriers, since the kids may not see you as this teacher who is separated from them by a desk and a laptop. Being closer to the kids adds to the feeling of a class community, and can make it easier for students to approach you if they have to. Proximity is definitely something I would like to improve in order to advance my classroom management skills.
Overall, I’m happy that I get to have the opportunity to be assessed by my supervisors. I plan to take all the advice they give me to heart and use it to think about how I can apply it to my teaching method, so that I may grow and improve as an educator.
What are some important lessons you learned while teaching? Please share in the comments below if you have any thoughts.
Have a great day!