I’M going to be a certified professional?

Nov 21, 2010 by

I knew that I would plan lessons late into the night and wake up at the crack of dawn. I knew that I would struggle with class management and lose a kid or two on the way to lunch (just kidding). But I thought I would improve. Although I can’t expect to be competent after just a semester in Pre-K and almost a semester in 3rd grade, I expect to at least get better! In August I made mistakes lesson after lesson. Now it’s November and I’m making the same mistakes.


I was observed a few weeks ago during a grammar warm-up lesson. I’ve been conducting this warm-up since August. After students complete a short grammar exercise the teacher facilitates discussion while going over the answers. In order to ensure that all students are held accountable my Cooperating Teacher (CT) gave me a tip to choose students in a strategic fashion: the same position at each table. It may be hard to visualize, but essentially this means that I frequently choose kids who don’t have their hands raised. She said that I can mix it in with calling on students who do have their hands raised. The problem is, I still can’t recall who I called on, when I called on them, who is not participating, where I have walked, which corner of the classroom I haven’t been to, who at table 4 is talking to at table 5, and much less who is not understanding the grammar lesson. In reflection I told my CT that I can remember every bit of someone else’s lesson, but none of my own. When I’m in front of the class, everything passes in a blur. I didn’t even notice that some kids were talking to each other about the rain outside! 


If my actual teaching skills were flourishing at the expense of my classroom management abilities then I might feel better. Unfortunately, that’s not happening. I’ve been creating reading intervention lessons for a student, Bradley*, who reads below a third-grade level. After weeks of interventions, my CT asked me a question, “Do you think your interventions are working?” At first I was taken aback by this question. Wait, you mean I’m actually supposed to be making a difference as an intern? Well of course, why else do I meet with Bradley once a week for one-on-one instruction? I considered the data I collected through short assessments with Bradley and noticed that I didn’t see very much improvement. My CT nodded and informed me that Bradley’s scores on the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessments were actually decreasing!


When I’m at home, I talk to myself. I rehearse the “script” of my lesson or intervention, anticipating student responses and misunderstandings. After my throat gets dry, I take a swig of water and then keep going. My peers and I discuss our interventions and bounce ideas off of each other. I get to know the kids and their learning styles. Yet, I’m not as successful in my teaching or my classroom management as I’d like to be.


My CT and cohort coordinator suggest that I work on one goal for the year instead of trying to master everything at once. My CT has a goal for herself too: to master the use of reader’s theatre in her classroom. She admitted, “I didn’t think I was even remotely good at teaching until my fourth or fifth year. Even now I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing when I take on new things, like reader’s theatre. You learn.”


I’m learning. I’ll continue to learn. My only concern is the kids who are stuck with me at the beginning of my career will suffer because I’m learning from my mistakes.  



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