Week 2: Easing In
Monday was the last day of finals, and we got out early because of snow and sleet. Tuesday started my first "real" day, and even then, I was still only introducing myself. My cooperating teacher had to be out that day, so she gave me the entire period with all the classes to get to know them and let them get to know me.
I wanted them to feel comfortable with me like they do with her, so I introduced myself and told them what I was doing here. They all understood I would be student teaching, but I let them know for how long, how and when I'll really start, and that they might see my advisor there sometimes. I also stressed that they are my college class, my 12 credits, and what I'm paying for so I'm there to learn from them just as much as they are to learn from me. The Biology I class, which will be my first to fully take over, got strict orders to comment on what I'm doing whether good or bad. I told them if they don't understand something, need me to slow down/speed up, want more pictures or examples--whatever--to let me know so they can have a better learning experience and I can become a better teacher. They seemed fine with that. That class was the most interested in me and what I was doing and didn't stop asking me questions including Who's your favorite rapper? and What's your favorite color?
On my "introductory" day, I sat with my seating chart and went around the room to have the students introduce themselves very first-day-of-school-ish. Name, grade, sports, clubs, hobbies, one interesting fact...I also asked if they like science/biology, and made sure they knew they didn't have to say yes to make me happy or anything. I got a lot of students who wanted to go into biology, and a handful that said they hated it. Doesn't sway me either way. I'm not there to make them love it, I'm just there to help them learn it. As the students told me about themselves, I jotted down notes next to their name and photo on the seating chart. It was a nice way for me to get to know a little about each of them, especially the interesting facts: one girl has OCD and hates odd numbers, others were from other towns because they were in the vocational academy. All good things that I think I will benefit from knowing.
Since this clearly didn't take the entire period, I had a silly (but cool) thinking activity for them called the black box experiment. This is basically a box that they can't open, but must try to decide what is inside. They did this in groups/pairs. I got little boxes from the UPS store, maybe 9x5x3, and put a random object inside each: a shell, bottle cap, toy lizard, highlighter, binder clip...whatever. They were to recall the scientific method.
1. Define the problem (what's inside the box?)
2. Make observations (light, sounds like plastic, sometimes rolls, sometimes slides)
3. Come up with a hypothesis (it's a pen cap)
4. Design an experiment to test (if it's a pen cap, it's about 1/4 length of the box, so it should take a while to slide from one side to the other)
5. Collect data, and come up with a conclusion (it didn't take that long, so it must be larger than a pen cap. reject hypothesis)
They would do this until they had one or two good guesses, then read their observations + hypothesis to the class and open the box. When we learned this lab in Methods of Teaching Science, we did it, and at 22-29 years old we were going f-ing crazy trying to figure it out. Some of the students went pretty crazy over it too, so it was fun. I really only did this to get them actively thinking, give them something that would intrigue them, and see them working together in groups or pairs to see who actively involves themselves and who fades into the background. Everyone worked well together from what I saw and some students were really reluctant to open the box until they had a better guess. It was a fun ice breaker.
I really spent the rest of the week observing my cooperating teacher with her classes, because now it was back to business for everyone. I handed back papers so I could get to know names + faces, and also do attendance for all the classes using the school's online software, RealTime. This also helps with names. I've learned to use the Scantron machine, graded a Bio Honors test, and also hopped in here and there to help ie putting notes on the board while the teacher talked. The Bio I class is definitely the most comfortable with me and I with them, and they are starting to look to me no less than to my cooperating teacher when they have a question. I also talk a lot with the AP Biology class because they ask a lot of questions--that class is very discussion based, not exactly writing things on the board.
In the mean time, I'm working on my TWS Part A and my unit curriculum outline, which will be on molecular genetics and biotechnology. After this, I will be moving into the history of biological diversity, evolution, bacteria, viruses, protists, fungi, and hopefully I will still be there for plants. We may skip around too, so you never know. The TWS is a lot of work but I did a practice one for a class that I can follow the format of. One thing I'm working on is differentiating between and writing the goals and the outcomes, which I finally found a paper on so I'll go into that another time. I always find the difference between goals and outcomes confusing. I'm going to log onto the school's program this weekend to see my teacher's lesson plans and choose one to take over. I'll then write my own, although it won't be much different, and prepare to do my first lesson with Biology I.
It was a great week, but even though I'm not doing much yet, it's exhausting. I'm trying to train myself to get to sleep earlier because, seriously, I fall asleep for like an hour after I get home and I hate it. My plan right now is to do a lesson or two this upcoming week with Biology I, and then more the following week, and at the start of the next chapter be fully integrated and on my way. When I feel comfortable, I will then integrate myself into either Biology Honors (probably) or Physiology (her second section, so I can watch her for the first section and model the second). I'm excited to get started but it is still nerve-wracking every single day waiting to start. I'm excited. I have been in every class every second of every day so far. I left Bio I for like twenty-five minutes today to grade the honors test and they asked my cooperating teacher, Why is Miss F like never here anymore???? So I guess they must like me being there :)