Teach four (4) lessons on four (4) consecutive days to four (4) different groups of students. The lesson plan is the “same” every time.
The plans were different every time. The lessons were different every time. Most of this was done subconsciously. After two lessons I did rewrite the lesson plan to reflect on how my thinking had changed. But something else has been happening that I hadn’t noticed: I’m becoming a better teacher.
I have been frustrated as of late with the disconnect from learning about teaching and teaching. I feel like I have been drilling on how to play shortstop in baseball, and then I arrive to a basketball game. Sometimes I arrive to a baseball game, but I’m a relief pitcher. Sometimes I can play basketball just because I’m taller than everyone else (this is also true in teaching elementary school students). Then my cooperating teacher noticed something — improvement.
I adapted a guided reading lesson from a new curriculum my cooperating teacher was auditing. I had to focus points, reading fluency and understanding of theme. I was originally going to put a lot more focus on the former (as my students understand concepts pretty quickly) but the exact opposite happened. I changed the lesson on the fly multiple times. I focused on theme, had the students play off each other, grab onto major points, hit fluency when needed and moved on.
Each lesson had a different group of students that I changed the lesson both in planning (context) and per situation (improvisation). I thought, since my co-teacher said I had done well the first time, the next time I would choke (sports metaphor). It didn’t happen, though during lessons I usually internally cringe when I think I could have phrased something differently. But then the students were saying some pretty amazing things. The more we discussed, the more students understood. Then the last lesson occurred.
The last group I had was quite diverse. The book we were reading was 15 pages. One student in the last group read the book in three minutes. Another took ten. Another took fifteen. The last took twenty five minutes to read. I ended up doing four indivualized mini lessons within the mini lesson (inception). I had to get up and redirect a student who was making flip books out of sticky notes. I got a student who rarely contributes to tell me what theme is, and found it (including citing evidence) in the book. When reflecting with my co-teacher, she praised me and redirected me (3:1, more on that later). For the future, I should have had the slow reader read on his own for about ten minutes before having the group join together. There were plenty of notes my co-teacher gave me, but this was the most praise I had received yet. Just feeling good about teaching.
Next week, work on discipline! I need to find a balance between anarchy and the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket.