It’s been a month since school started and I joined the madness in the middle. I love middle school! I really enjoy working with nearly 60 students each day, it is definitely a change from the 120-150 I could see in a day last year between my two schools. I find that I am building much stronger relationships this year because I see every one of my students for half the day every day. That’s right I said half the day. I am working with a wonderful teaching partner and we share the teaching of the core academic subjects. I am teaching my favourite subjects math and science and I also teach French. My teaching partner, who from here on out will be called Ms. P, teaches English, Social Studies and heath and careers. We work together to plan for PE and Arts. I really like working as part of a teaching team, by collaborating with Ms. P we can find ways to connect with each student and help them grow. I am also able to focus on only 3 subjects allowing me to explore how to teach each in new ways and develop more innovative projects.
The team aspect of working with Ms. P has helped me to work on my skills for collaborating, especially when it comes to talking about students and sharing strategies for working with them. I feel like this collaboration surrounding specific student has helped me to deepen my understanding of them as we each bring our own unique perspective and backgrounds to our interaction with students. This has been really helpful in finding ways to work positively with every one of our 60 students.
I am also seeing the benefits of being in middle school for my grade 6s, in terms of developing their organizational skills, responsibility, and social skills. My students no longer keep their belongings in their desks or in the classroom. We use lockers to store personal belongings with the exception of the few things I keep in the classroom, so the students are now responsible for all of their materials and belongings as well as bringing them to the right class when they are needed. Students brining the right supplies to class is something that we are still practicing, while we only switch between 2 rooms it quite often happens that binders or pencil cases are in the opposite room or left in lockers. This new responsibility for themselves and their supplies has been a big adjustment for my students.
For my own teaching I’m finding that teaching three subjects works well for me because I can really dive deep into preparing the best activities and lessons I can on each subject. I am also finding that I am able to adjust my teaching between lessons to fit each group better or tweak activities that may not have gone exactly as planned. This is really helping me to grow as a teacher because I am able to apply my quick reflections on lessons and activities to the next block or group and make adjustments so that I am more effective. I am also able to look more into research and best practices for my three subjects. I am feeling really good with 2/3 and am hoping to spend time this weekend investigating better ways to engage my students in French class. I have already posted about how well I think guided math is working for my students. In science I am exploring more hands on and project based learning ideas. I have a busy class who need constant movement and change in activity so using hands on learning stations works well for them. They are able to talk and discuss what they are doing in small groups as well as applying their knowledge and using it to ask more questions. With our project based learning students are creating marble runs in science to demonstrate our understanding of Newton’s laws as well as balanced and unbalanced forces.
All in all, I’m loving my experience in middle school with my students. It’s a great new phase for me as much as for them.