I have learned a lot about the teaching profession this semester. My dream has always been to become an Elementary teacher. I had the opportunity to observe many classrooms, especially at the Elementary grade levels. Through field experience, I was able to imagine my own classroom and teaching methods. I observed both student-based classrooms and teacher-based classrooms. I even had the opportunity to learn about teaching special education classes, which I never considered teaching until now.
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This field experience has made me question the level that I want to teach, the methods of instruction I should choose, and the content area on which I should focus. Although my task was to observe for five hours in elementary, five hours in middle school, and five hours in high school, I observed more teachers and classrooms at the elementary level. Starting out, my goal was to teach only grades kindergarten through fifth, but I had the realization that I would not mind teaching at middle grade levels. In some of the student-centered classrooms, I noticed that group work made some of the quieter students feel comfortable speaking in class and engaging in activities.
An example is the fourth grade class that worked in groups and rotated stations every few minutes. They enjoyed the subject content more since they had the opportunity to work together. This is something I want to bring to my classroom. I got to see teacher-based classrooms, too. However, I did not enjoy observing these classes as much. I felt like the students were not as engaged, and they just did not want to be there. All of the teachers that I observed this semester welcomed me to their classrooms.
They even invited me to visit again. In most of the classes, I noticed that the students felt comfortable around the teacher. One teacher engaged in conversation with her students about their spring break. She was inspiring to watch. She was teaching math while I was there, and every student was engaged. She made the children comfortable yet she had their full attention during the math activity. I am glad I had the opportunity to observe the interactions between the students and teachers, because I was able to realize the importance of the students comfort in class.
This was especially true in the co-taught special education class that I observed. For example, the students were allowed to sit on the floor and take their tests to reduce test-anxiety. I was given the chance to really think about how student behavior is influenced by the teacher’s behavior. Before obtaining field experience, I believed that middle school students would be unruly and frustrating to teach.
I feel differently now that I have seen the middle grade teachers in action. All of the teachers were helpful and explained their philosophies to make me understand how they have well-disciplined students. Behaviorism was a topic discussed in our textbook, and I was able to see different theories first hand. For example, most of the elementary teachers have reward systems set up to endorse good behavior. Others, start the school year out being very strict and then loosen up as the year unwinds.
I want to have a good behavior model for my classroom, so I was glad to observe various techniques. Some of the teachers gave me copies of the lessons the students were doing at the time of my observation. I found these activities useful as they made me think about the curriculum that is used. This was important to me since we learned about curriculum and how it is determined, as well as by whom it is determined. Most of the classes that I observed were my favorite subjects, English, Language Arts, and Math. However, I now feel more comfortable at the thought of teaching other content areas, grade levels, and even special education.
I was given the chance to observe an English as a Second Language class at the tenth grade level. When first learning about ESL classes this semester I thought I would never want to teach this type of class. This is one of the classes that I am most interested in now. I enjoyed watching the teachers and students interactions, but I did not care for the method of instruction. Although, the teacher used student-centered instruction, it seemed as though he was unable to relate the vocabulary of the activity to some of the students because of the language barrier.
I imagined various technology and resources that the instructor could have used. This is an area that I hope to observe more in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of observation time in the field this semester. I have realized that I am on the right track to a rewarding career. I am still inspired and more determined to become an educator. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to learn from other teachers. Mostly, I was inspired by their patience, innovation, determination, and their compassion for each individual student.