Saturday, September 12, 2015

First Week of Teacher Assisting

Well I have officially made it through my first week of my Teacher Assisting placement at Grandville Middle School! This semester I will be working alongside Mrs. Jamie Stuart and her 8th grade math students. I am at the school Monday-Friday from 7:20 am-12:30 pm. I start my day off with two sections of Math 8, which is a pre-algebra class. Also, the first section of Math 8 has one paraprofessional in the classroom, and the second section of Math 8 has two paraprofessionals. Then I have a planning hour before two sections of algebra. I think I am really going to benefit from the set-up of my schedule because it allows for some great reflection time in between classes. In other words, Mrs. Stuart and I will be able to discuss what we can do to improve our lessons from one hour to the next.

The classroom setup is made for a lot of group work and peer collaboration. The students are arranged in groups of four, and there are eight groups in the classroom. One thing I really love about the arrangement of the classroom are the small round tables on both sides of the room. Both of these tables have two stools at them, and they are a great place to be able to pull students aside for some one-on-one work. I imagine myself working with students individually at those tables and helping them with any content they might by struggling with. Here is a picture I created of the classroom layout!

This first week of school we have been mainly going over rules and procedures and building the classroom community, so we have not covered any content yet (except for a pre-test the students completed on Thursday). So while I am not 100% sure what the daily schedule will be like in the classroom, I think I have a general idea. The students will come into class and begin working on a warm-up problem while I go around and check their homework. Their homework is graded on effort and completion rather than for correctness. Once the students are done working we will go over the warm-up and any questions they might have had on their homework. After this is completed the students will begin working on their notes and vocabulary for the day. Mrs. Stuart has the students create interactive notebooks as their main resource for their content. (If you are interesting in learning more about these notebooks you can check out them out here!) Once the students are done with their notebooks, they will most likely begin a small group activity. This can range from anything like a card sorting activity to maybe some challenging practice problems. Mrs. Stuart has told me that a lot of the students time in class will be focusing on peer collaboration work.

Mrs. Stuart's classroom is based on inquiry-based learning. This quote is taken from her beginning of the year parent packet:

"My style of teaching is very hands-on and inquiry based.  I believe that students learn best when they can take ownership of what they are learning.  My job as a classroom educator is to facilitate the learning for the students.  This is done by giving a group of students a task to explore, providing them with any tools they need, and monitoring a student lead conversation about what they discovered.  At the end of this process the students should have a deeper, more conceptual understanding of what is being taught.  Along with this I also try to incorporate real-world examples though the use of technology and real-world tasks. "    

I am very excited to see how much I learn this semester! I think I am very lucky with the placement and the mentor teacher I have received. Mrs. Stuart seems very warm and excited about learning, which makes me excited to learn from her. I know that this semester will be a huge learning process for me, but I am ready for the challenge! I hope that I can have a growth mindset as I go through the semester and I can learn from some of the mistakes I am bound to make. Here's to a semester of new opportunities and lots of learning!

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