First week of practicum down. The good news is that I’m starting to settle in, starting to get comfortable with the students and staff, and the students are starting to get comfortable with me and opening up a little bit. It’s starting to feel like I’m a part of something rather than looking in from the outside.
I still haven’t started teaching math yet, but I’ve at least starting teaching health (half-hour every day), and this month’s theme is about drugs. I have pretty well free reign as far as how I can approach the class. That’s good because within reason, and guidance from my cooperating teacher, I can choose what I want to teach. It’s also daunting because health is an “add on” subject for me, something I didn’t specialize in, and a month is a long time to sustain students’ interest. It’s also difficult because it’s a minefield of opportunity for getting off-track in inappropriate conversations. I’m constantly on my toes. For example on Friday, I was discussing the law about marijuana in Canada and it got sidetracked into the law in The Netherlands and the recent vote in California. Going through my head the whole time was “Should I be allowing this conversation or should I shut it down? Do I have my facts straight enough to be going here?”. For a lot of people the limits you set would seem obvious. However when you’re new, inexperienced, and nervous up in front of a classroom for the first time trying to engage students in an open conversation, it’s a lot harder.
Despite the perils of teaching controversial subjects like drugs, the students love it, and it’s a lesson goldmine. It’s a great confidence booster for a new teacher.
I start teaching math from Monday. I’m driving myself a little crazy over-thinking my first few lesson plans and finding myself going in circles a bit. “What if they don’t get this? What if it’s too easy? too hard? Should I try to introduce this now or wait..what are the learning outcomes again?” I’m also preparing heavily teacher-centered lessons because it’s what I’m comfortable with at this point.
I also have two ideas for this blog. Starting next week, as part of my practicum requirements, I have to post a positive story every week to my university discussion forum. I may as well re-post that here. The other idea I’ve had is a “Wish List”, that may not really be a wish list, but just a place to mark any subtle things I think could be different. For example, I might post if I think a topic should be introduced in the curriculum earlier or later, or something similar.