My journey through my ECS 100 placement started out with excitement and fear. I was nervous about not having teaching exposure in classroom setting, but more so with working with younger students. My experience has been with kids in grades 7-8 and older rather than the younger grades. However, immediately I felt welcome in the grade 4 class at Ruth M. Buck Elementary School. The students were excited to see someone new and younger in their classroom. Through the journey I enjoyed myself and had a moment where I realized how happy and excited I am to become a teacher. Each week I found the classroom enjoyable and I continually learned through teacher and students.
I learned many things throughout the placement that I had not thought of being part of a teacher’s role. For example, how much phones and social media has impacted the classroom more so on the older grades. This can be challenging for teachers to manage as they do not have control over student’s personal devices and parents tend to ask teachers to help kids who are being bullied through social media and devices. Another learning curve was teaching myself how to teach younger students. When the students would ask a question, I realized how hard it is to not outright tell them the answer. I recognized the importance of allowing them to work through the question with my guidance. This was a struggle for me but through watching my teacher and working it out myself I started to become better at responding and allowing the students to find the answer themselves. Mental health was another learning piece for me in the classroom. I am educated and aware about mental health, however it is common to think it affects older students rather than younger ones. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was one of the first mental health disorders I noticed in a few students. The students had a difficult time staying on track and focused. It was rewarding to see how the teacher dealt with this through the means of patience and working one-on-one with the students to set plans or strategies to keep students focused on the task at hand. Mrs. Hinks, the teacher I was working with, taught me various small tools that improved my teaching technique. For example, if a kid asks for a hug it is smart to give side hugs in order to protect yourself of future issues. Other examples include how she organized her classroom in terms of desk placements, posters and decorations.
The amount of technology use in the classroom was a surprise to me. I learned that computers and tablets are used regularly for teaching, as well as posting the students learning on an app that parents can access to understand what the child is learning in class. In the older grades, computers are used almost daily for research, writing essays or other assignments. This is a major change from when I was a student as each classroom had 2 computers so it was not possible for every student to have access to a computer. I also had the opportunity to observe teaching in a grade 8 classroom and how that differs from a grade 4 class. This experience was important as I recognized how different a teacher can interact with students when they are older and have a higher maturity level. This allowed me to distinguish between what is easier and more challenging between the two age groups.
Overall, I had a blast being involved in the classroom once a week. It was unfortunate that I was only arranged to attend once a week as I truly enjoyed my time there. The students and myself were sad when our time together ended. I actually plan on surprising them at their winter concert to visit them and watch their performance. The whole experience brought new ideas and ways of teaching for me to adapt into my own techniques and philosophy. I look forward to being able to go into the classroom more through the remainder of my degree and having my own class in the future.