This semester I had the opportunity to spend my Friday afternoons in Professors Jack and Kyle’s Ed350 Teaching and Learning Seminar along with eight of my peers. We were all able to learn a great deal from one another throughout the semester. I was able to learn not only how to design and execute a lesson but also about how to address matters of social inequity in the classroom, which is a very important as well as great place to start doing so given the impressionable nature of children and the amount of time they spend at school.
I have had some previous experience teaching/instructing young children in the past, coaching youth cheerleading, teaching preschool at a summer program, and observing in a lower-elementary classroom for Ed200 last semester among other things. This being said, I knew going in to this course that teaching was something I always considered pursuing and was comfortable with (especially with the little ones), however I did not anticipate an entirely new experience of working with middle school-aged students. After teaching three workshops to the seventh graders at McDonough Middle School in Hartford, CT, I know now that this is not a task I should shy away from. Sure, at first I was nervous and concerned I was not the right person for the job, but after concluding my last lesson a few weeks ago and learning and growing from the previous ones, I know that this is something I can do! And maybe I can even do it pretty well. I would say I personally felt that I had done a pretty decent job at teaching seventh grade science, given I had no experience in this field since of course I was an actual student in the course. My first lesson was well designed and interactive in order to get students excited to learn, which was one of my main goals based off the observation I did prior to the first session. Students in this class seemed particularly uninterested and had little desire to participate or even pay attention. I took this and wanted to do my part in this classroom to inspire and encourage students to try their best and put their best foot forward. I always felt that learning was important growing up, and this seminar emphasized that to me in more ways than one, so I wanted to show this to my students. My second lesson, though maybe not as fun or clear as the first, was more of a challenge for students and myself. I pushed myself in the second lesson in that I taught a rather last second plan that incorporated math, which was a bit risky since I was not fully aware of the students’ math background. Despite these factors, I was able to see student learning happening in the questions they asked as well as summative assessment I had prepared. The second lesson went well, however I did feel that my first one went a little better. Learning from both of the previous lessons, I went in to lesson three the most prepared and the most comfortable with being in the front of the classroom. I felt lesson 3 was a success, though tough at first to get students to participate and focus. As the hour-long class progressed I saw students engaged with material and even excited about what I was teaching.
This expereince was so gratifying to see student learning happening as a result of my instruction! I am proud of myself for being able to put in hard work to plan and execute these lessons and learn from my mistakes. I know now that teaching middle school is something I can do, however I am unsure if it is something I want to do. I know that sometime in my future I will be working with children to help them in one way or another, but for now teaching is just one of the many options for me. Working with children is something I always saw myself doing and this class was able to teach me so much more than I already thought I knew about doing so. Teaching and inspiring students to care about their learning and realize that learning is important is something that I will take with me wherever I go from here and hope to show many children along the way. My high school teacher told me once that “teachers are important,” and from this teaching and learning experience, this statement was able to come true for me, helping me to see that they (and maybe me someday) really are. I am thankful for Ed350 and my teaching experiences in the middle school for all they taught me and for helping me grow not only as an educator but as a student and as a person.