Yesterday was my second visit to my practicum school, and I had a great day! I’m greatly enjoying getting to know the staff and students at the school and feeling part of the school community. I have enjoyed observing 12 different classrooms over the last two weeks and seeing how different classrooms function and how the teachers interact with the students. Each teacher has their own unique way of working with their students and presenting information. I observed two major types of instructional style at two very different ends of a spectrum with the rest of the classes falling somewhere in between. The teacher’s utilize instructional styles and communication methods that best fit their own personalities and the students in the classroom.
We began our morning in a classroom that was very inquiry based with a strong self regulation component the students were greeted by the teacher briefly and led through an exercise to help them focus and collect their thoughts, before one of the students lead an opening to go over any news in the classroom and make the announcements for the day. From there the teacher gave brief instructions as to what they were working on that morning providing a variety of stations that the students could peruse as they felt ready they were advised that all of the work needed to be completed that morning but the order they completed the tasks and they time they spend on the tasks was up to them. I found this to be a very supportive enviroment for the students as they were all working on individualized work that was suited to their unique skill level, it changed them to try something a bit harder but they were not working at the frustration level. The atmosphere in this room was calm and focused and I got the sense that the students were happy to be in school and excited to be doing their work as they seemed to understand the purpose behind it. I also noticed that the teacher had a calm manner and spoke to each student in a gentle supportive way.
The other major style that I observed was a very teacher centric approach to instruction where the teacher directed step by step what the students will be doing for a particular activity. This provided clear direction and the students knew what they were doing and it was a very structured approach. The atmosphere in this classroom was very different from the ones described above.
Perhaps my favourite experience of the day was spending time with a group of grade 6/7 students while they were working with the UN Declaration of Human Rights, we were able to observe the class discussion around the issues and hear how the teacher and some general comments from the class about how they viewed their Human Rights. I feel that I learned the most when the students were working alone and in pairs to examine a right in greater depth, I was able to talk to several groups about their thoughts and had an amazing discussion with 2 of the boys in the room about the right to education. I was able to ask questions that probed their thinking and they in turn questioned my thoughts and asked me to explain my thinking! It was great to have that type of deep discussion where not only did the students have to think on a deeper level but my own assumptions were challenged as well, I feel that I learned as much if not more than the students I was talking with.
All in all it was a great day!