What went well? What did you learn?
The most important lesson this semester has taught me was just how important it is to build relationships with students in your class. Through building relationships students begin to trust you and what you are teaching them. It also allows you to get to know their specific needs and strengths. By working with the same students every week for an entire semester you really get to know these students. Relationships are vital in order to help a class thrive.
Classroom management was both a high and a low for me this semester. Some days were wonderful and the students stayed on task and completed what they needed but then there were days it was a struggle to get them to focus for more than five minutes. For example, I left on Halloween really distraught that I couldn’t get anything done with them that day. Teaching has highs and lows but the highs definitely outweigh the lows. By establishing some management plans including behavioral expectations, noise expectations, and classroom layouts classes can run smoother and students can achieve more. With this also goes strategies for organizing supplies, room layout, and clean-up. All of these serve the purpose of provided a classroom that supports learning with as little distractions as possible.
In order to get students interested in what you are teaching you need curricular relevance for them. Basing the lessons on what your students are interested in prevents that struggle between teacher and student to get stuff done. Recognizing and acknowledging student interest when developing art lessons was a strength for us this semester as we allowed freedom for students to tell stories based on whatever they were interested in when creating their creatures and also focused on their own identities in the last two lessons. If students are interested in the project and it is relevant to them then they are willing to work.
Planning is critical. There is no such thing as too much planning and the days we struggled were days where we didn’t plan enough- for example we didn’t think of clean up strategies or ways of teaching students about clay building. On the days that we had planned extensively including making an example of the work proved to be days that flowed smoother than the rest. In terms of planning it is also very important to establish ideation activities that engage the students and really do help students to formulate ideas for their artwork. It is also important to create ways for students to reflect meaningfully that is not always the same thing. Some lessons were better than others and they definitely got stronger by the end of the semester.
If I had to state one thing I am leaving this class comfortable with it is creating well defined objectives. The objectives inform all of your instruction for that class. You need to instruct students meaningfully and strive to make sure they are successful and can actually meet these objectives. While the beginning of the semester started a bit iffy and it was unclear whether we were actually meeting the objectives by the end of the semester all objectives were met and there was evidence that they were met. If I have clear objectives then assessment becomes easier.
Questioning was both a high and a low point this semester. I showed growth in my ability to ask questions but there is still room to grow. It is sometimes difficult to know what kind of questions to ask and when to ask them. In order to become better at this I think I would like to think of go to questions for the lesson when I can’t think of anything on the spot.
Before this semester I wasn’t really aware of just how important documentation is. Through documenting student work and growth is helps really people in all areas. It helps the students to see what they are doing, what discoveries they are making and allows them to acknowledge the work of others. It helps parents, faculty, and administration see what occurs in an art classroom and why art is important. It also allows for easy assessment of student growth and learning as long as all students are represented.
What would you do differently?
In the future I would probably create a unit that is more aligned with each other. While students were engaged in all of the lessons it was a bit more difficult to see the connection between the lessons. Also reinforcing expressive features that we taught would be beneficial. There was often teach them this and then don’t return to it. Allowing more complex lessons that take longer would have allowed students to explore more as well and in the future it would be beneficial to allow such explorations that weren’t supported through the quick lessons.
I know we showed leaps and bounds in planning and creating objectives and remaining consistent in such aspects would be vital when student teaching. Also, in the future I would really like to have consistent strategies for classroom management including clean up, managing supplies and classroom layout. It was hard to do in a classroom that was not my own but ideally I would have expectations that are set and enforced from the beginning.
In the future, establishing more benefiting ideation, reflection, and questioning strategies that are also engaging would be critical. Again, consistency with some spontaneity would benefit my own classroom.