By the end of this week in the middle of November, each person in our Get Real! Science cohort will be teaching a mini-unit in our student teaching classrooms. Depending on our experiences with our cooperating teachers this semester, this may be the first time we will be leading instruction in these classrooms.

We have learned a lot of theory since we started in May, and we have had varied experiences in informal education settings. We have talked with each other and our cooperating teachers about what we plan to teach, and we have developed detailed lesson plans for review by our supervisors.

As part of my preparation, I practiced setting up my anchoring phenomenon demonstration twice in my kitchen and at least five times in the classroom. 

I am glad I did because one of the bowls SHATTERED after one of the practice sessions. Needless to say, I changed the materials we are going to use!

Did anyone else have any significant learning moments during their preparation or planning? 

I think we are all anxious, now, to start implementing what we have learned and get started.

We all know what we want to achieve, but for some of us, even weeks of preparation may not translate into effective lessons right away. Once we do start teaching, what will be the best ways to reflect on how things went so that we can make positive changes to our practice and become the best teachers for our students?

Based on prompts in our lesson plan template, we brainstormed during class some ideas – with a few jokes mixed in – about how to handle our reflections.

We will also be observed and evaluated by our supervisors and cooperating teachers. Research supports that it is discussion of feedback and our reflections with our mentors that will contribute to our growth as teachers. As discussed by Gutiérrez and Vossoughi (2010), joint mediated reflection supported novice teachers in their ability to apply theory to their practice.

We will also be recording our lessons to learn from what we see and also to submit a video recording of our teaching as part of our edTPA assessment for certification. Video recordings have been reported to be a year-long useful tool for growth when reviewed constructively with peers. Recognizing that “making sense of student thinking on the fly has been shown to be quite challenging for teachers,” Sherin and van Es (2009, p. 22) facilitated video clubs. Teachers with a wide range of experience attended these video clubs at least once a month to watch videos from their classrooms and discuss their perception or and response to students’ mathematical thinking.

See below for an example of how, from meeting 1 at the beginning of the year to meeting 7 at the end of the year, teacher attention shifted to focus on math thinking and teachers’ review of the lessons shifted from less complex description to more complex interpretation. 

Targeted review and discussion of classroom performance can lead to improvements in future practice!

For those of you have already conquered your first year(s) of teaching, what reflection and professional development approaches would you say were the most effective in improving your practice? We’d love to learn from you!!

 

References

Gutiérrez, K. D., & Vossoughi, S. (2010). Lifting off the ground to return anew: Mediated praxis, transformative learning, and social design experiments. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1–2), 100–117. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487109347877

Sherin, M., & van Es, E. (2009). Effects of Video Club Participation on Teacher’s Professional Vision. Journal of Teacher Education, 20–37.