This semester has provided me with more learning and growth than I ever could have imagined. There is something significant that occurs when you get the chance to work with the same students twice a week, every week for an entire semester. It became clear that the students in that classroom relied on me to be there and I wasn’t just an extra body in the classroom. I had the opportunity to work with students one on one daily as well as teach two full-length lessons during the semester.
Overall, the first lesson went well. Students were engaged the entire time and met the objectives (per TOTD, worksheet and critique). The students LOVED the booklet and it was really cool to see them take the initiative and put the booklets somewhere they could find again and use in the future. Each student was also able to identify the zones in the worksheet and also interpret their photographs that they took outside for practice to determine the proper exposure. In the future I would probably write the plan of the day on the board-this would help keep me on task as well as the students because I forgot at times the things I had planned on saying. Everything went quicker than planned partly because of this and partly because I allotted extra time that the students did not end up needing. Another thing that would make it more concrete would be to constantly remind students of why I am teaching them certain things- provide real life examples. It may have also helped to break it down and allow students to help each other. There were a few instances in which the students seemed a little lost and because the class was so small it was easy to help the student who was struggling and still keep an eye on the rest of the class but it is also helpful to get help from classmates. It was really good that students went outside in order to practice instead of just receiving a lecture on the exposure controls- all feedback received from students and Jen was positive in this area. The students were able to learn some vital information on exposure control and in a week or so we will probably go back and review just to make sure that they understand it. The next lessons to teach could be merging photos in Photoshop by bracketing exposures both in the camera and manually and we received a suggestion from one of the students of the possibility of teaching how to utilize an off camera flash to enhance your image.
The second lesson taught me that it is a lot easier to get in front of the class and command their attention when you know the students and you are more comfortable with them. I know that I felt more confident being in front of the students- I had also received this feedback from Jen that confidence was a lot better this time. Ideally this lesson would have been taught during a longer class period it was hard to get this lesson in before the project is due with all the Thursday the class has had off. We had chance to show the students all of the techniques that we had wanted to show them but didn’t have the time to allow them to experiment and reflect as originally planned. If taught again I would break this in to two lessons and maybe the PowerPoint wasn’t completely necessary if we were demonstrating the techniques. I would, next time, demonstrate the techniques, allow time for experimentation and then reflect and go through examples of how some artists have used the techniques. Students remained engaged with the processes and techniques during the demonstrations but it was unsure if they really understood how to use the processes. When I see the students next I am going to see how they have used the techniques for their upcoming project- group reflection as well as individual will be a must next time I see them. It was impossible to determine if the students had met the learning targets/objectives with how the class ended. To conclude the lesson in the future I would have them write a short response to what they had learned in their sketchbook and which processes they found most helpful to influence their work and how they would use them in the future. I would also reiterate the importance of being intentional with the processes and give them prints and brainstorm as a group how they would utilize the techniques learned to enhance the possible print.
I got to first hand see the students in the class grow and grow along side them. It was crucial for me to see how much there is to learn even when you start being an official educator. The most detrimental thing that any educator can do is to think that they know it all or to ever think that their students have nothing to offer them. I learned this in my own education but it was even reiterated through the high school practicum. I learned that it is crucial to get involved outside of the classroom- when the students see that you care that is when they start to care as well. I loved to run into students I knew school dances, sporting events, after school clubs, and even conferences. You get more one on one time to talk to the student and you begin to learn more about who they are. There is more to the school than just classroom learning and to get the most out of what your school has to offer you should be involved. Like I have said, students see that you care and in turn they begin to care as well.
As far as my own philosophy goes this semester allowed me to refine it. I was able to identify my core values; creativity, trust, and perseverance; and I became aware of how this influences my own teaching. I was able to dream big and think of ways in which I would organize a classroom of my own. Student success can be fostered in the smallest, most remedial things such as classroom organization. It is crucial for me, in the future, to establish routines and organization to allow students to thrive and not get stuck on “oh, where does this paper go?” or “I missed class- how do I make up the work”. It is my job to provide students with whatever they need to succeed- tools, not just information. It was also reinforced just how important building relationships are. Even just one on one attention for a minute lets the students in the class know that you care and opens up the possibilities for them to come to you in the future with whatever they need.
I learned important strategies from Making Thinking Visible in order to engage student thinking in the classroom that I can see myself using many times in the future. Strategies such as zoom in, compass points, and see, think, and wonder can be used to promote student critical thinking in a more engaging way. These can become routine thinking strategies in the classroom to help students get in the habit of “digging deeper”. Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the semester was the cross content assessment project. I would love to incorporate other contents into art- in fact you often can’t have art without other disciplines. I think that through this semester I was really able to understand more on not only how to assess but effective, engaging ways of assessing what students have learned.
I know now more than ever that I am going in to the profession that I am meant to. I looked forward every single day to the learning opportunities, the opportunities to work with students, work with other teachers, and help students acquire knowledge and skills to succeed in the future.