Thursday seemed to be less stressful. The weight of being evaluated seems to have been lifted from our collective shoulders. The reduction in tension allowed everyone to relax a bit. I was able to make some good connections and observations today.
We started the day in usual form. After the skill builder and math facts, we worked on a sample ISTEP problem involving operations with time. After the students had the opportunity to work on the problems, Mrs. J led a discussion with the class. Using her familiar inquiry method, the document camera, and the IWB; Mrs. J discussed with the students how and why they came up with their answers. Some students are struggling, but I was able to witness the fabled "ah-ha" moment, along with the accompanying audible gasp. There are few finer sounds to be heard than this.
The activities in the computer lab were again self directed learning. The children had a choice of three activities. These programs are self adjusting to the students' level. Again, this is the place with the deepest student engagement. How can this be duplicated outside of the computer lab?
While the children were at Art, Mrs. J and I had an opportunity to talk about teaching as a career, how we each decided to become a teacher, the state of the economy and how it is affecting the job market, and other education related topics. We brainstormed about how to improve the use of technology in her classroom, the school, and in education in general. She told me of her experience at the ISTE conference she attended last summer. We talked about how a few of the students were having an off week, and some of the social issues that were a part of her student's lives. Conversations such as these are the most valuable portion of this field experience. I can improve my classroom management skills and learn about lesson plans while working as a sub, but interacting with teachers on this level does not normally happen during a normal sub assignment.
In the afternoon we worked on symmetry of shapes on the IWB, handwriting workbooks, and parts of speech on the IWB. Mrs. J and I seemed to develop a rhythm as we both worked around the room. Our teaching styles appeared to gel a bit today. I had never before been able to visualize how some people work as co-teachers, sharing a classroom with another full-time educator. After this afternoon, I can see how this could be a great arrangement if one had the right partner. I also see that it could be a disaster for all involved if the chemistry was not correct.
The day ended without incident and all of the students made it to their respective busses. Mrs. J was conducting a parent conference as I gathered my things to leave. She was talking to the mother of one of the students that had been having trouble this week. It was good to see her take a swift proactive approach to address any problems before they got out of hand. Another valuable tool for my toolbox; correct small issues before they become unmanageable.