Teaching the fourth and fifth graders at the Lab School was a great expeience. I enjoyed the loose structure of the classroom and the responsibilities that the students held, that was already put in place by Alicia. I enjoyed that we had the freedom to try lots of different lessons with the kids, and they were most of the time excited and ready to participate in art once a week. I think that we did a good job of keeping Alicia's classroom organized and clean, and I thought we created pretty engaging lessons that the students enjoyed. At the end of the class when we had the art show the kids took a lot of pride in their work and they were very excited to see it. This made me so thrilled, because it meant they had enjoyed the art classes we planned for them this semester.
What Did I Learn?
I learned so much at the Lab School, and probably too much to put in this TWS, so I will narrow it down to the most important things I gained this semester! I think that overall I learned that engagement, classroom management, and the importance of planning and organization are what make a classroom run smoothly.
Looking back on my lessons, the ones where I was the most organized and had practiced what was going to be said or facilitated in class, were the lessons that were the most impactful for the students and myself. I think that being spontaneous and being able to adapt to situations in the classroom is very important, but the planning and organization tactics that I learned when creating lesson and unit plans made me much more confident in the subject matter I was teaching. By being organized and detailed in the lesson plans it also helped to solidify what exactly the students would be learning. I think that by constantly working on my lesson plans and reviewing my lessons that were going to occur, or already had, really helped pound in the subjects that I wanted the students to learn.
Classroom management was a major topic that I learned this semester as well. At the beginning of the semester we did not know the students, and did not have much practice with classroom management, so there was a lot more confusion and disorganization in the classroom. Once we learned the classroom management strategies that worked for the class, the lessons flowed much more smoothly. I realized that no matter how good the lesson is, without having a controlled class, your students will learn nothing.
Also, I think the biggest thing I am taking away from teaching at the Lab School this semester is the vital importance of engagement in a classroom. I could see a direct correlation between how involved the students were in the lesson with their achievement and success at the assignment. When students were interested and engaged in the topics, images, and discussions we were having in class, they were much more likely to spend more time on their artwork and did a much better job at creating it. If a student was not interested with the topic or material they often rushed through the assignment and did not have a good attitude in class. In the future I plan on finding out what my students are interested in and I will cater those interests in order to have my students learn.
What Would I Do Differently?
I think one of the biggest things that I will take away from teaching at the lab school is the concept of freedom and choice in the classrooom. Many of our lessons that we planned were controlled, and they worked well, but I wish that we had more successfully included choice into the classroom. In every lesson we certainly had elements of choice, and we made sure of it when we made our lessons, but at the end of the semester, after seeing all of the student's artworks on the wall at the art show, I realizied they looked a little too similar for a classroom where we prided ourselves on choice and freedom. I think that one of our biggest struggles at the beginning of the semester was classrom management. It took a long time for us to really understand who our students were and what they required in the classroom. Once we figured some of these things out, we had much better control of the classroom. It was great that we figured this out, because I think that I will be even more prepared to teach next semester. Now that I have some management skills up my sleeve I feel and I can more successfully add freedom and choice into the classroom. I think that incorporating more student choice into the room is intimidating because of the mess and the large amount of work associated with it, but I feel much more prepared to do this now. I am so glad I was able to teach at the lab school because I feel i am better prepared to teach in the future, the way that I want, and the students deserve.
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