I finished my first week of apprentice (student) teaching this week. I assist in four U.S. history classes, and one History of Augusta class. All of the classes except Augusta have over 25 students. Our largest class period had 39 students! In a classroom which only held 26 desks, this was an obvious problem. We have added three more desks, and our classes have lost a few students, but we still have more students than desks.
I am working to find the right balance with my students. I would prefer for them to have a healthy respect for me while also believing that I want to help them if I reasonably can. Our first graded assignment was a blank U.S. map. Many students overlooked Alaska and Hawaii, and confused Oregon and Washington and left out Maine. (In fairness, both Maine and Washington were relatively indistinct on most of the maps.) I gave extra credit for the students who wrote in Mexico, Russia, and Canada in the appropriate areas. I also gave two extra points for students who went to the extra trouble of locating and labelling the state capitals on the map. I am telling the students that it's great if they want to put in extra work, but just like in a job, they'll get paid extra if they work extra.
Mr. Damon and I have also been grading notes. I suggested that we also show students how to identify and record just the most pertinent information, not every word written on our PowerPoint presentations. We have done this, and I have also begun giving extra credit for students who manage to capture all essential information in the most concise formats possible. I believe this will help students learn how to choose just the most important information, and that this selection process will help them begin to remember vital facts. I also want to help them become better students, both for my classes and for the future.
Mr. Damon is very happy with me. I began co-teaching lessons with him on Wednesday, and actually handled several classes entirely by myself Thursday while he visited the local BoE. He says I am ready for my own classroom, and I believe this is true. So far, teaching is a lot of work, but it's not hard.