Week 3: Evaluations and Emotions

Well the end is finally here! On friday my partner and I boxed up our teacher things and took one last look at what had become our classroom home for the past couple of weeks. It was a sad moment saying good-bye to our co-op teacher who had become like a teacher mom to us. While we were elated to have made it to the end and have all the stress conclude, we were also sad to leave. We were so fortunate to have the co-op teacher we had as she was awesome! She taught my partner and I so much in so little time, not only in what she told us explicitly, but also in what she demonstrated on a daily basis. I had grown so accustomed to our pre-intern table and our daily routine, that I had almost forgot how to go to class today at university. I miss my students and my classroom, and while I know I can’t really claim these as mine after only three weeks, I still feel like they are somewhat mine. This experience has been such a positive reaffirmation of my desire to be a teacher. Sometimes things were difficult, and sometimes lessons went really wrong, but at the end of the day you have to roll with the punches and focus on the positives.

I love creating engaging and fun lessons plans and thinking outside the box. I think my teaching style is a little different than most, but I think that’s alright because every teacher teaches in a such a diverse way. I think this enthusiasm for teaching and the connections with my students are what makes me so excited to have a career as a teacher!

This last week of my pre-internship was all about evaluations and emotions. Because this was the wrap up week, both my partner and I had lots of projects wrapping up. With projects comes evaluations. In my period three grade nine class I had my students complete their major project which was spotlighting a survival story. Their task was to find and research a survivor story that they found interesting and then share that story in one of three ways: a Facebook profile of the survivor, a brochure spotlighting the survivor story, or a poster which displays the survivor in a creative way.

I found that these options provided all learners with a different platform to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. I also provided each student with a detailed assignment sheet which included the evaluation criteria as well as all the elements which were to be included. As a class we look through some exemplars of each type of assignment in order for the students to have a more detailed look at what was expected for the assignment. I have learned the importance of providing my students with student work and exemplars of projects, so I made sure to go through these in detail with my class. I think in the long run it truly did benefit my students as the majority of the final projects were exceptional.

In order to evaluate these marks I used different criteria for each of the three types of projects. I provided the students with my evaluation criteria prior to them completing their projects, which I think is so important for teachers to do. Otherwise, how can teachers expect students to fulfill criteria that is invisible to them? Without a guide, students are lost and frustrated when their projects don’t meet the teacher’s expectations. There were a lot of projects to mark and at first this seems very daunting. “How long is this going to take?” I wondered. I found that some of the assignments were easier to mark than others. And while I relied as much as I could on my criteria, sometimes I had to re-evaluate the project and reassess the mark. Sometimes I felt I was marking too easy, and sometimes I found I was marking too hard. And I know that this is why using criteria and rubrics is so important, but what do you do when there is controversy with the rubric? When you feel the rubric is doing the project justice. Some students failed the project and this broke my heart. I felt I had given my students all the necessary directions and supports, as well as class time to complete the project with the criteria expected and communicated. Nonetheless, two students failed to fulfill the criteria and went a completely different direction. Because It was the last day of my pre-internship, I had to leave the marks with my co-op teacher. However, if the situation had been different I would have liked to give these students a second chance to re-do the project.

In our team teaching class my partner and I had to evaluate our students’ Etymology Posters. These were a much more positive evaluating experience because we got to do it together. We went through each project and evaluated it using the rubric together. For the most part we agreed on marks, and a few we had to hash out to come to an agreement on the mark. Creativity was one of the criteria for this project, so it was a little more difficult to evaluate. I really enjoyed evaluating with a partner, and wish this collaborative assessment and evaluation could be a constant. It was a much more productive and positive process I found, not to mention an amazing opportunity to connect and learn from other educators in the area of assessment and evaluation.

 

The end of my pre-internship and my final good-bye were an emotional chapter, and I’m so thankful to have experienced it all.

Thank you so much for reading my posts and following my internship journey! It has been an amazing journey and I’m happy to say that it is not the end, but just the beginning.

Please stay tuned for a showcase of my pre-internship lesson plans and evaluation guides!

Until next time,

Miss G

 

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Second Week of Internship: Success and Struggle

I have completed week two and I’m feeling excited and exhausted. It is crazy to think how much you can connect and get to know your students. It’s going to be hard leaving the classroom after three weeks. Although I have not learned a lot about each individual learner’s needs and abilities within my short time at the school, I have made substantial progress. As I mentioned before my class does not require any major adaptations, although I do have some minor adaptations that I incorporate into my daily lessons. For example, one of my students struggles with organization, so I have been consistently focusing on keeping our assignment and lessons organized and clear as possible. One way that I have done this is through the use of classroom duotangs. I have been using these to hold all of the student work throughout our survival unit. As well, dating these notes and handouts has also helped to keep the students on track. Another more informal adaptation that I have made through this class is with communication. Because some of my students are EAL students I have ensured that my communication is audible and clear. I also make sure to repeat instructions and sometimes re-phrase a task to ensure that all of my students understand. I have also found vital providing my students with written or visual instructions in addition to verbal instructions.

I have tried many different forms of assessment throughout my first two weeks, and some have worked better than others. I have found that incorporating routine forms of assessment is a very efficient way of ensuring consistency. I have found that one of my favourite ways of assessment is just simply asking questions. I never imagined I would rely so heavily on this form of assessment but I find with my classroom that questioning works wonders and keeps them all engaged and thinking critically. We have also been completing daily journal prompts which help me assess their knowledge of the survival unit, as well as their writing skills and abilities. Exit slips have also been helpful to reflect on my lessons and my teaching abilities. Sometimes the exit slips do not produce the information I’m looking for, but then I try to reflect on the questions and re-assess whether I was asking the wrong question or I need to re-teach a certain concept.

In terms of evaluation we have already completed one section for this unit which was our Survival Role Plays which the students loved and did exceedingly well with. For the most part I have a very performance loving class, so this worked out wonderfully. I’m still finding it challenging to mark my students as sometimes I’m feeling guilty for marking too low, or marking too high. Sometimes I feel emotions can get in the way. I have learned so much from my Co-op teacher and from other teachers on staff as well which has been wonderful. I have even been fortunate to steal some rubrics which is like Christmas morning for me. I think one of the major things I have discovered through this internship is the vital need to provide specifics when it comes to assignments, as well as having the most detailed and efficient rubric. Having an effective rubric not only helps me as a teacher to mark objectively and accurately, but it also helps my students understand what is expected and how to succeed.

One question I have going forward is how to provide samples of assignments to students when it is the first time we are trying these assignments as new teachers. Sometimes it can be very time-consuming to create a sample myself so I was wondering if there was an alternative option or if this is just something that needs time dedicated to.

I’m looking forward to wrapping up my last of my pre-internship but I’m also sad that it is coming to an end. I’ve really enjoyed my time as a “teacher” thus far and I know for certain that I will miss my co-op teacher as well as my grade 9’s.

 

Until next time,

Ms. G

First Week of Pre-Internship

We have started our first week of pre-internship and it is very exciting…and exhausting! We are quickly learning how much planning and preparation it takes to be a teacher. We are learning so much from our co-operating teacher and from other teachers on staff. Today we spent our lunch hour at a staff meeting to discuss the new system of RAD. At Campbell we are using the RAD system to evaluate and assess student reading levels. Our teacher uses an online gradebook to record and keep track of her student progress, and this also allows for parents to track their child’s academic progress. I find evaluation the most difficult task thus far. How do I know what to assess and what to evaluate? How much evaluation is necessary? Weighting assignments is also a very difficult task for me. Our Co-op teacher has been very helpful to my partner and I in answering some of these questions and concerns we have thus far.

It has been so beneficial to look at other teacher’s rubrics as they all look a little different and focus on different aspects. In terms of adaptive dimensions my classroom needs very little adaptions. So far I have just been using some of the level one interventions throughout my lesson plans and adapting some of the assignments and time constraints. I have been getting the students to complete exit slips for the first couple of days and reading these has helped me see if the students understood the lesson or still have some difficulties or questions/concerns with the topic or lesson. Another form of assessment I have been experimenting with is the use of journals. I have daily writing prompts as well as different reading and writing responses that I have the students complete and hand in to me. I have really enjoyed reading these and it has helped me get to know the students on a much deeper level. Issues, fears or concerns they might not feel comfortable sharing in the class now has a opportunity and platform to be shared. I have been using these to assess my students’ prior understanding and knowledge about the topic of survival, the unit we have just begun.

As I have just began to get to know my students, I am not very familiar with all of their individual interests and learning needs. This is something that takes time and I hope that I can develop through the three week internship.

I am still working on developing my unit evaluations and rubrics, as this is a much bigger task and I need to put some more work into it. I am going to conference more with my co-op teacher and get some more support and resources for grade nine evaluations and expectations.

Our internship is just getting started and we have so much more work ahead of us. It is easy to get discouraged by all the lesson planning and assessing, but it has been a great experience thus far and I know these next couple of weeks will fly by.