This is the blog hub for the teaching and learning reflections of ECS350 students at the University of Regina.
Over the past couple months, we have been working hard to delve into some very important educational concepts; assessment and evaluation. At first my understanding of assessment and evaluation was very similar, and I rarely categorized the two concepts individually. As we continued to research and have discussions as a class, it is very clear that assessment of, for, and as learning each carry their own significance in the classroom.
After taking these concepts into my classroom during pre-internship, I now strongly believe that assessment covers many different aspects within the classroom. For starters, diagnostic assessment allows us to gauge an understanding of learning. Each semester we will have new students join us in the classroom. Without any idea of pre-requisite knowledge, we have to find a starting place. Diagnostic assessment can help aid in this process as it will provide us some information on where the students are at.
As we move forward in our units and strive to meet outcomes, formative assessment covers its own category-by which it provides teachers ongoing feedback of how well the students are grasping new content. Some key ideas about formative assessment are:
- Formative assessment is a two-way relationship that benefits both the student and the teacher.
- Teachers can open lines of communication with the students, and let them have a voice in how they are being assessed
- descriptive feedback can provide the students with details of how to improve
- as we assess, it allows us to adapt and modify accordingly
When it comes to modifying and adapting units to help individual students, this is only possible if we are assessing the students correctly. The more we are involved in formative assessment, the better we will get to understand what types of instructions methods best suit our learners.
I feel as though it is extremely valuable to set clear expectations with the students in terms of assessment and evaluation. Not only do we want to the students to know and understand what they are being evaluated on, but we want to allow them to opportunity to get involved in the process. If students are involved in this process, they will likely be more engaged and feel more entitled to be successful.
In my field experience I worked through as many forms of assessment and evaluation as I could. I was in full experimental mode as I pulled from many different resources and tried as many tools as possible. Diagnostic assessment was hard because I didn’t have time to set up any tests or written material as I was teaching on the first day. I used class discussion and exit slips as a way to gauge where the students were at. As I got going on my units I was trying different formative methods everyday. This was definitely the most beneficial aspect of my pre-intern ship experience. I found through so many different means of formative assessment, not only did I build an understanding for the student’s individual needs, but I also got to know my students on a personal level. The better my relationship got with the students, the more they would open up and relay important information back to me.
In my second week, I finally had some students open up about our diagrams assignment, in which they offered a lab option instead of doing the diagrams. I was excited to hear this feedback from the students, and I made the according adjustments. What did this teach me?
- Once you build a comfortable relationship, students WILL give you feedback
- Use this feedback to make necessary changes
- Interactive/applicable discussions lead to more engagement
- Once students are more involved, they are more entitled to try harder
I used many other methods of assessment including check-lists, my favourite no, online quizzes, class discussion, exit slips, lab hand ins, group work, the list goes on. Some worked better than others, but they ALL significantly contributed to the learning process.
Where else did formative assessment work?
- EAL students- understanding their learning styles (making necessary modifications)
- Knowing where I needed to teach more (where the students struggled)
My assessment and evaluation practices in the field aligned pretty well with my teaching philosophy considering I only had these students for three weeks. I did have some struggles though:
- Students were resistant to change (comfortable with the way they were being taught before)
- New relationships and communication take time (3 weeks isn’t enough time)
- Not a lot of preparation time (finding out what we were teaching the day before sometimes)
Moving into intern ship I will make a couple changes to help ease the transition into the classroom:
- Set up a scope and sequence earlier
- Focus on building those relationships EARLY as they take time
- Be patient and listen (Davies)
- Focus and build off student effort
Following my pre-intern ship, I still wonder about modifying and adapting for all students. I found that in the classroom there is a huge emphasis to make adaptations for those students that sit in the 40-50% range. Teachers spend so much time and effort to make these students successful, but it seems like we forget about the 60-70% range. These students are passing and doing okay, so we just let them be. However, it isn’t to say with the right time and effort that these students could be 80%+ capable. How do we select who to modify and adapt for? Should this be based on how much effort the students are giving us?
- Diagnostic, Formative, Summative Assessment are fundamental in today’s teaching practice.
- They provide valuable feedback from your students
- Aid in differentiated instruction
- Contributes to the student-teacher relationship
- Gets students involved
- Getting students actively involved in the learning process,
- Students will feel more entitled to their work
- Expectations will be clearer and more defined
- Class content is more likely to stick with student’s long term
- Students will find application behind learning
- Change and modification are necessary to improvement
- Teachers/students are resistant to change because it takes work
- Finding/trying new ways is the way to improve
- Allows you to push the boundaries
- Don’t get set doing the same things, because all students are different (What works for one class might not work with the other)
I look forward to working on these concepts are I enter my intern ship. The only way to continue growing my educational perspective is to work hard to implement the research we have done in the classroom. I don’t expect myself to be a perfect teacher in my first year, but these key concepts build off the idea that I will always be learning and open to adjustments that expand my platform as a young educator.
After returning from teaching in a high school for three weeks, it is very clear that students have the upper hand in terms of power. With no late marks, or even late assignments for that matter, students have the ability to pretty much do homework at their own pace. Teachers have no option but to accept assignments when they get them. This strips the leverage from the teachers, and puts it in the students hands. Rather, this now emphasizes the importance of having a good relationship with your students. Teachers need to use these relationships to keep students on task and productive in class.
Students having more power isn’t necessarily a bad thing if they can use it correctly. Educators can use this as a way to let the students guide their assessment and have a say in how they want to be assessed. If they are involved in the process, then they can’t make excuses when they fail to meet expectations. If we can continue to keep the students involved, they will be more likely to find application and relativity to the content they are learning. When they ask, “When am I ever going to use this?” Lets build off that, and make them research to find out. The better grasp students have behind their education, the more entitled they will feel.
After returning from the field, I feel like our expectations about modifying and adapting instruction for each student are still a bit out of realistic expectations. We certainly have a handful of students that don’t care, and give us no effort in return. As a result, we can only do so much with these students. Our focus, effort, and resources need to go to those students that show up to school willing to learn. I feel like we spend so much time on the failing students, and neglect passing students in terms of modification and adaptation. I think it is important to gauge the students effort level, and willingness to learn before we make address our approach to each student. Pick the students where our time and effort will pay off, and take the battles that we can win.
As I move into my intern ship, I look forward to digging into this and asking teachers how they approach modification. Where they invest time and energy? What type of students have they had the most success with?
As a young educator, we are consistently challenged to learn and apply the new ways of teaching. As I continue to work with high school teachers, the consensus is that educators are always attempting to implement some sort of change. Now, even though this presents a challenge for teachers, I think it can be very beneficial in working towards refining a profession that can always get better. It seems to be very popular, that once teachers get settled in their field and have a couple years under their belt, they then become extremely resistant to change. This doesn’t surprise me, because we work hard and invest countless hours to create our unit lessons, assessment, and so forth. Then administration comes in and implements a new style of teaching or assessment, which challenges teachers to invest even more time in adapting to the new methods. As a new teacher it seems simple-when change is requested, we should do it. However, I wonder how much stress and resistance these changes get from the field of experienced teachers. This is something I look forward to digging into in my pre-internship. Teachers that have been in the field for ten or twenty years have seen many “teaching changes” come and go. I want to find out, what their reaction is to these changes, and how quickly they adopt the technology.
My pre-internship placement is at Sheldon Collegiate with a teacher that has previously taught me in highschool! This is very exciting, because I can observe how her teaching has changed over the last 5 years since I have been in her class. Over the last 5 years, technology in classrooms has absolutely exploded, and I expect her class structure to be a bit different. This will allow me opportunities to ask questions about adopting the change, and the workload it puts on her. Not only have the times changed, but she is also teaching at a different school. I have always wondered how changing your teaching environment effects your teaching practice. Each school is equipped with different resources, different students, and sometimes a different school identity. How does this effect the way we teach? We can be sure that we will not spend our whole careers at the same school, so this is just another form of change that we have to be ready to embrace.
Whether we are changing our teaching styles, students, curriculum, or even schools, we must always be prepared and ready to put in the time to make adaptations. This challenges teachers to stay on top of their game, and I am excited to use my pre-internship as an opportunity to ask these challenging questions. As I continue to grow as a young educator, I strongly appreciate the opinions of experienced teachers, because nothing speaks louder than years of experience in the field.
Most people leave school having a favorite teacher. This person was someone who stood out to them above the rest and had a positive influence on their lives. Some people’s opinions of an outstanding teacher may vary slightly; however, I believe most times all centralize around certain concepts. In my opinion, the difference between a great teacher and an outstanding teacher all comes down to the relationships formed. An outstanding teacher is one who listens just as much as they talk, if not more. From experience, I have discovered that I can learn just as much from my students as they can from me. Being receptive and open to students and their input builds trust as well as respect. An outstanding teacher knows his/her students, focuses on their individual strengths and builds on weaknesses. Because of this knowledge, teachers are able to demand the best from each student and make individual adaptations to nurture student success by first meeting at the student’s unique level.
An outstanding teacher is someone who not only teaches, but demonstrates, generosity, mastery, independence, and belonging (Circle of Courage). They are enthusiastic about what they are teaching and make learning both engaging and fun. An outstanding teacher models self-reflection and self-advocacy and assists students in doing the same. They believe in each and every student and facilitate a safe, welcoming, and judgement-free classroom. Inclusive practices and a variety of teaching styles are part of this teacher’s professional repertoire and get used on a daily basis. An outstanding teacher is not just aware, but utilizes to benefit learning, the fact that each student has their own personal story and brings “baggage” and experiences (good and bad) to school each day with them. An outstanding teacher uses their passion, leadership skills, and flexibility to foster student learning. This teacher is resourceful and collaborative, as well as, organized (but allows for organized chaos). This teacher relates curriculum to everyday life, is fair and honest, and makes his/her students feel valued, important and smart. An outstanding teacher has a sense of humour; is relatable; never gives up helping; and recognizes the importance of a positive school community, consequently is involved in many school activities. The reason a teacher is outstanding is because they value professional development and educational growth as well as demonstrate lifelong learning.
“When golfers swing their golf clubs, they know where to aim” Davies
This chapter resonated with me for many different reasons. Keeping the end goal in mind, or as Davies suggests, what do I want my students to learn. The idea of this, made me think about the bigger picture of teaching, and how it brings so many different challenges. At the high school level, very few students have any idea what their end goal is. The thought of career exploration at the age of 16 or 17, is briefer than we usually like to admit. I can remember telling myself “ahh I’ll figure it out later.” Adolescent life is full of so many distractions, whether it be your first girlfriend, hockey practice, or shot gunning your first couple beers with the boys. I spent very little time in high school researching different career paths. I did well in school, because I knew (or I thought) at some point I will refer to this knowledge, and need it to succeed in life. The end goal however, was vaguely in site.
As a teacher, this challenges us to teach students many different types of content and knowledge, even when the students have no idea where they will apply it in the rest of their life. Keeping the end goal, or the big picture in mind is a valuable part of being a teacher. We must strive to relate the class content to relatable and applicable concepts. Provide students examples of how balancing chemical equations is used in the mining, or the pharmaceutical industries. The finer details of chemistry class will likely be forgotten, but the links students find between chemistry class and real careers is something that may actually impact their thoughts or ideas about what type of life they want to pursue. As secondary teachers, we must continue to build these links between class content and society, because these will be the lessons that resonate with students as they look into university, trade school, or other professional programs.
When I think back to my high school days, I remember always questioning the teachers about the material. I was always challenging them about the purpose of the content. However, as I continue to evolve as a learner and as a student, I start to realize that its not the content that carries the most importance. Rather, it was the process of learning. The fine details of class were quickly forgotten as the years went by, but the study habits, organizational skills, and overall learning process remained with me throughout University. High school structured me as a learner. This learning structure can be applied across so many different avenues, whether it be University, jobs, sports, etc. I think it is important to keep this in mind, and use our personal experiences to guide our teaching pedagogy.
Students may not know where or how they are applying the content, and that’s okay because each student will follow a different path. However, we can help this by providing applicable content, and defining the learning process. If students can see the value in becoming efficient learners, they will be more motivated and committed. Even if it involves spending an couple minutes at the end of each week, or unit to have discussions about where this content is applied in different careers. These are the conversations that will stick with students as they begin to develop ideas about the “end goal”.
This is my introductory blog post for ECS410 with Tracy Houk. My name is Zach Oleynik, and I am a chemistry major, physical education minor. This class focusses on both assessment and evaluation. This excites me because these are two very valuable components of the teaching profession. Assessment is such an important driving force behind being a successful teacher because not only does it give you feedback of how your students are performing, but it also allows you to gauge, adjust, and adapt your teaching style to fit the needs of your students. Every classroom we enter will have a different set of skills, and as teaching professionals we need to find a way to meet the students needs. Assessment will be our best friend in doing this. By exploring the different styles and types of assessment, we will hopefully be able to manage and reach our students learning potential better.
This blog will be important throughout this course, because assessment is a topic that involves lots of discussion and reflection. Thinking back, we have all been assessed our whole lives. Sports, school, jobs, etc. Some way or another we have probably been assessed in a positive and negative way. Blogging is a way to communicate and engage with other classmates in a constructive way, as we work towards becoming better teachers.
It is very hard to believe that today was the last day of my internship! I have lived and breathed internship for the last 4 months, which is probably why walking out of the school today I felt like I was leaving something behind. Despite the fact that internship involved working the hardest I have ever worked and being the most exhausted I have ever been, it was also one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. I walked out of the school today feeling happy that I have made it through successfully, and thankful for such a positive experience. I am also extremely thankful for my amazing co-operating teacher, and I know that I would not have made it through the last few months without her support and encouragement.
The last week and a half of my internship ended up going very differently than I expected. One of my grade twelve students, whom I had taught for the majority of my internship, unexpectedly passed away. While I realize that this is something that all teachers experience throughout their career, it is safe to say that the possibility of losing a student during my internship had never crossed my mind. Losing this student was by far the hardest part of my internship, and it is still difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea that something this tragic actually happened. Our school community was rocked, and I struggled to figure out how to be there for my students. This student was such a fantastic young woman with a bright future ahead of her, and I feel fortunate that I had the chance to get to know her. She brought so much humour and light into my classroom and I know that her she will be remembered by the many, many people whose lives she positively impacted.
The part of my internship that I will miss the most is, without a doubt, the students. In my grade nine class today we had a pizza party and played games, and I felt so much kindness and appreciation from my students. After getting to know these students for the last four months, it was very bittersweet to see them walk out of the classroom at the end of my last class with them. However, once again I am thankful that I had such a great class that I got to teach for my whole internship. There is honestly nothing about my internship that I would go back and change if I could. My students and my experiences have shaped me into a more confident and well-rounded teacher, and I know that I will look back on this experience fondly.
The end is near. The end is literally tomorrow. WE DID IT. Reflecting back to the start of September, I had no idea what I was in for. I think one of the reasons why internship is so hard to explain to other people or to other pre-service teachers about the experience is because every teacher is so incredibly different and every internship experience is unique. There are about 17-20 (I think) other interns at my school and I guarantee we have all had extremely different experiences.
I survived my three week block, which is where I was teaching full time (four classes a day). Teaching full time is exhausting. People really don’t understand the extent of work each teacher does every single day and night; the work definitely doesn’t stop at 3:30. There hasn’t been a time in the last month that I have been able to leave school and have a night completely to myself. There is always something that needs to be marked, a worksheet to be planned, or some type of prep to do. Although I am still a very inexperienced teacher who needs a lot of extra time planning, I can tell you that every other teacher works hard all of the time. There never seems to be enough time in the day to completely finish everything.
I have taught grade 10, 11 and 12 English. I love it – except for the marking aspect. SO MUCH MARKING. I am really enjoying my grade 11 and 12s; the students are so fun. A lot of people assume that the senior grades would be tougher, but I like it a lot more than I thought I would. It is solely because of the students, I was so blessed to have been paired with the students I was. The grade 12s were so excited for me to start teaching their class which was a nice feeling. I think one of the
reasons I enjoy teaching them a bit more is because they are (somewhat) more mature. They enjoy having in-depth conversations about current events, controversies, politics and relating all of those things to the stories or themes we are analyzing. The grade 11s were the grade I was most nervous to teach because there are so many of them (31) but surprisingly, they are one of my favourite classes, although it is a period one class and a lot of them are still a bit sleepy-eyed that early in the morning.
My grade 10s are great too. I have had them for the entire year, and we currently just wrapped up our study of Macbeth. I have found teaching Shakespeare to be very challenging. Some of my students were very resistant to it simply because it is Shakespeare. They told me from the beginning that they think it is stupid to learn because they won’t even need it in “real life” and so they totally tuned out. I felt very defeated at times because I was trying to the best of my abilities to get them engaged with Shakespeare. We go through it as a class and then review each scene, usually a brief summary unless a further analysis is needed. We aren’t reading through the entire play, picking and choosing important aspects that contributes to their comprehension. I am trying to let them know that it is not the language that they need to learn how to read, it is the decoding and analyzing new things. It is the higher level of thinking that I want them to get out of it, not just what the plot is. Although I have been extremely frustrated with them at time, I will definitely miss all of their lively personalities.
I have found the hardest part of teaching is the marking, not only the copious amounts but also the deciding factor of grading student work. I have found it very challenging to decide what grade they should get and justifying it. In English especially, a lot of the work is subjective so having a clear idea of what YOU as the teacher want is very important. This is another part of internship that is very challenging because I am trying to mark my judgement and marking to another teacher whom has different standards so I am always second guessing myself.
One thing I have noticed that I need to work on is my confrontational skills. I am not very good at confronting students who are doing things they aren’t supposed to. I will if I need too but like I said, my students are all so great that I really don’t have to. I honestly haven’t had a problem with any students, expect for a few snotty remarks. Someone mentioned to me how this isn’t good experience and that it would be better if I had some trouble students or issues. I don’t necessarily agree; I feel a lot more comfortable disciplining students when I am alone and without one (or two) other experienced professionals watching me deal with it. Am I going to deal with every behaviour issue correctly? No probably not, but I will learn how I will deal with things in my own way once I have my own classroom with my own standards. I still find it very difficult to enforce rules that don’t really bother me. For example, my coop can’t stand when students wear their earphones when working or writing a test, whereas it doesn’t bother me at all. I still feel a lot more comfortable dealing with students and teaching when I am by myself because I feel more confident in myself.
I have been teaching in the FIAP room as well, and I have really been enjoying it a lot. The atmosphere is completely different than a senior English class, and it is honestly just a lot fun. It is very challenging work in different ways from a mainstream classroom because each student has such diverse needs and is at completely different stages so it is really hard to plan for. Being as organized and structured as I am, it threw me for a loop at first because it is very “go with the flow” type of thing, where whatever happens, happens. The period that I have been teaching is called “Personal Management” where they are learning life skills that they will (hopefully) utilize to become independent. It is a senior FIAP class so we have ages 18-22 and it is really awesome to see what a great group of students they are. One strategy my coop uses is to assign roles for students who are finished their task to help others who need it; it works out really well because each student is at such different stages that it combats the issue of planning for each different ability level. I have learned so much being in the classroom with them and I really enjoy it. Even though inclusive education in my minor and have taken tons of classes relating to it in university, I have never once been told or shown how to actually TEACH a class so observing and being able to teach a class was an amazing learning experience.
Tomorrow is my last day, and it is a very bittersweet feeling. I am so incredibly excited to be done and be able to relax for a few weeks, but I am going to miss the students so much. As much as I get frustrated with them, you get so attached to them. Students are starting to ask when I will be back to visit, One student said yesterday, “You were the best intern ever Ms. T. Usually interns are always really bad but you were the best one ever.” Of course he was probably just saying that because his group hadn’t presented their final project yet, but it is still nice to hear regardless of their motives!
Teaching is one of the most challenging and utterly exhausting jobs I have ever done. I respect teachers so much; the reason why they do this demanding job for such little recognition is definitely because of the students. Being able to work with young people everyday is exhausting, but also an incredible feeling. I haven’t worked with a teacher who isn’t enormously caring, and isn’t willing to go above and beyond for each student. As challenging as these past few months have been, it has been able to show me a clear picture of what a teacher career entails. Many people are asking what my plans now. First, I am going to sleep, and then sleep some more, and then I guess I will finish my degree, as I am technically not a teacher yet. Right now I am so looking forward to spending the next few weeks relaxing and spending the holidays with family and friends, without MARKING ANY MORE ESSAYS.
To my fellow interns, congratulations! We survived and I appreciate all of the enormous support I received from you. I wouldn’t have been able to get through without all of you wonderful people sharing their own experiences and resources. I am looking forward to seeing you all in January!
Why would someone want to be a teacher? Kids are needy, and draining! I had a total of 65 students who I saw every day and was responsible for connecting with and ensuring they were learning the set curricular outcomes. This is madness- I felt like a soldier crawling through the mud being shot at. Everyday I was bombarded with comments/questions such as “I forgot my books today”; I was too busy to do my homework”; and “will this be for marks?”. Half of my students, although in high school, came to class without paper and a pencil! How was I supposed to teach my students when they were so disinterested in school and had their cell-phones glued to their hands! This very difficult task was only made more difficult when I had a minimum of 3 kids absent every day (who I am responsible for catching up).
The first month of internship was not too bad since I was only teaching one class (Physical Science 20). I was getting my feet wet and learning the all important knowledge of building student rapport and creating an engaging class atmosphere. While this was the easiest part of internship, it still was not easy. Trying to learn and work with 28 unique personalities was a feat I was anxious about. I can’t force my students to listen to me let alone like me; however, from pre-internship, I remembered it is much easier to work with my students instead of against them. Within the first month I became quite comfortable in front of my class and had come to enjoy teaching them in period 5 (which I learned is a time when all students are about done for the day and ready to go home). Things were looking up until…. BAM!
The next 2 months I quickly picked up 2 Science 10 classes and a Chem 30. My confidence in my abilities was taking a huge hit as I was never usually happy with how each day ended up going- there was something I either forgot to let my students know or was unable to check in/deal with some of my struggling students. I didn’t feel adequate or experienced enough to give my students everything they needed. I quickly learned that as a teacher, only half of my time is actually spent teaching. The rest of the time I am tying up loose ends and dealing with my students’ problems/struggles. I quickly learned that mental health is a HUGE problem in schools- I had 3 students miss a week of class because of hospitalized anxiety. Students who are dealing with such intense issues are not concerned with learning things such as the makeup of an atom, and understandably. I could not help all of my students in the ways they needed help. Planning and teaching lessons was the easy part-juggling students, and their parents, diverse needs was a huge challenge. Although I am educated in Inclusive Ed. (which helped me reach a lot of my students with educational needs), it did not prepare me to take on the other needs present.
When I had started handing back classes I had more time to reflect on the events that happened during the day. While I was talking with some colleagues, one had told me of a simple, yet effective, quote: “big deal, little deal”. During my 3 week block it had seemed like everything that happened was a big deal- reflecting on this, I can look back to to some events that I had treated as a big deal when in fact they were little deals. Having 3 of my students need to leave early for basketball isn’t really a big deal… I realized that. While teaching is full of stress, I was creating more stress than I needed to by holding myself to a perfect standard. I heard another colleague say “you can only teach as well as you know how to, as you do more, you learn more”. The experience I had gained from internship has enabled me to grow in my teaching abilities. I am a much better teacher now than what I was at the beginning of internship. The curriculum is the predicable part of teaching, you can plan for it and know what to expect. Students, however, bring so many unknowns- I had to learn to quickly think on my feet. It became a regular occurrence to do quick problem solving with things that were “little deals” (for example, a student forgetting to bring books to class).
While my students were the most stressful and draining part of teaching, they were also the best part. I absolutely love my students and looked forward to seeing them in class everyday. While their problems, whether family related or school related, complicated lessons, I always wanted to try and help them in any way I can. This was draining. It was exhausting. It equated to most of my stress while teaching. However, if I was able to help any of my students, even if it was in small ways, I felt like I had done my job. While I understand I will never be able to solve all of my students’ problems, I will be able to help them in small ways. For example, a student of mine was upset over some conflict at home- there was an exam scheduled for that day so, instead of making them right while their thoughts are somewhere else, I rescheduled the exam for the next day. Working with students ensures you get the best work out of them.
Teaching is draining and exhausting and hard work. Learning can be hard, and messy, and take more time than planned. However…knowing I have given hope to students who may have been overlooked is an amazing feeling. The excitement I get from seeing a struggling student ace an exam is way more important than the countless hours tutoring that student, giving them a chance. This feeling is only added to the already rewarding feeling of seeing the pride in that student’s face when they have been able to actually succeed in something. If working hard means giving a student a chance at success and increasing their confidence, then sign me up!