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Erica Jarrell April 25, 2012 Final reflection

I spent my student internship at two different locations. The first location was Grissom High School in Huntsville, Alabama. My second placement was at Liberty Middle School in Madison, Alabama. For my first placement I was in a ninth grade introductory biology class. The second placement was with a ninth grade honors biology class. Grissom followed the seven period day schedule, while Liberty was on the four block schedule. At Grissom i had two planning periods, while at liberty i had planning during first block. Both placements had around thirty students in each class, which were each made up of a homogenous mix of genders, ethnicities and backgrounds. This made for an ideal learning environment. I feel that over the course of these fifteen weeks, I have learned more about the teaching profession than I could ever imagine. I will use this valuable information throughout my career to make myself a better educator. Not only have i learned good practices but also practices that will never find their way into my classroom. I feel that by having a perspective from both ends of the spectrum was a great learning experience. I hope that I can implement all of the strategies and skills I have learned throughout my internship during my new career and never have a dull moment. In my first placement, one of the most meaningful things I learned was to never count any of the students out before you give them a chance in your own classroom. One student was in my third period class, and he struggled with the material in an

introductory style of biology. He always did his homework and came prepared but never seemed to do well on any of his tests. Also, my cooperative teacher from the first placement did not like him much, and it showed. As soon as I took over this class period, I made an immediate connection with this student. He began to ask questions more often, and come to school earlier so we could have study sessions. While I was working with him, his grade moved from a low C to a medium B. I received an email from his mother thanking me and saying what an impact I had made on her child's life. I hope that I can continue to make positive impacts on the lives of my students, as long as I am an educator. Additionally, I learned that some children just need a little extra help. This is why you should never judge a child before you have actually taught him or her. I also learned in my first and second placements that students learn best when they are actively engaged. During my observations at my first placement we watched a lot of videos. Students then did poorly on the test. They were exposed to the material of the test very few times in the class time and as as result, did poorly. When I began teaching, my cooperative teacher tried to get me to show videos, but I kindly put them off. Instead of showing videos I planned some group activities and projects. While teaching my unit, we completed a jigsaw II as well as reciprocal teaching activities. Also, students completed a grouped jet, which was creating a biome brochure. Additionally, while I was at my first placement, I used a lot of modeling to help explain activities. When assigning a worksheet, I always turned the activities into "I do, we do, you do" activities. I feel this caused there to be less questions asked about the actual process and better understanding of the material. Overall, implementing strategies really helped

me grow and gain a lot of practice. At the second placement, my cooperative teacher was very active in terms of the students understanding. I almost struggled to keep up with her in the beginning. However, after I got used to her questioning and discussion practices, I found that I enjoyed this style of teaching and began to incorporate is into my own lessons. For example, on my lesson on stems and leaves, I did not have to lecture at all. Students came to school having pre-read the sections and outlined each section. Then, students lead the discussion of the topics and I monitored and acted as a moderator. I steered students in the correct direction and they questioned each of the topics that was needed to be covered. We did review at the end with a short PowerPoint and completed an activity involving labeling the parts of a cross section of leaf tissue. Students used their notes and activities to study or their assessment and in turn did very well. Also, students completed a plant scavenger hunt as an alternative assessment for this class. Students really enjoyed being active in their learning and I can tell they would rather create a product than sit back and passively learn. Also while at my first placement, I found a lot of use in completing formative assessment. I used formative assessment to alter my way of teaching before the next period raised. I also used formative assessment to plan for the following day, based on what students had learned. I believe that formative and authentic assessments measure learning better than simple pen and paper tests. Additionally, in my second placement, I used formative assessments in my closure as wells throughout class time. Questioning was implemented and perfected by the end of my second placement.

As I look back on my student teaching, I have found that my beliefs on teaching have not changed much. I still believe that in order to learn best, students must be actively engaged. I also still believe that product based assessments are more valid than paper and pencil test. I still believe that writing and reading across the curriculums important, and should be implemented in every lesson. However, I have changed one of my beliefs. After becoming overwhelmed at the amount of grading I was having to do, I have decided to do more spot checking to help with my classroom management. I will also continue to have students projects and tests graded as quickly as possible. I can tell students really enjoy that almost instant gratification, probably because of the fast paced world we live in today. My two strongest areas in the candidate competences would have to be content and pedagogy: teaching. My two areas of weakness include diversity and pedagogy: assessment. I feel that I have a great understanding of my content knowledge, and I am able to plan and implement activities and lessons without faults. These strengths greatly aided me in my instruction, and planning. They also helped to keep me from stressing because I at least understood what I was going to teach, and I could create plans of how to teach it. However, when it comes to assessing students both formally and informally, I seem to have a problem formulating questions that relate to their diverse background and that actually assess what the students have been taught. I have alleviated some of this problem by carrying a list of questions to ask during our discussions. I also tried to implement more hands on activities, as well assessing and listening activities for the different learning styles my students of different back grounds posses. I feel that my critical thinking assessment has greatly improved since my first

placement, as my questioning and planning for those types of activities has improved as well. I will continue to work to plan for critical thinking activities Also, I have tried to respect the cultural aspects of the different students I have been involved with, and have certainly remained kind and professional at all times. In the future I hope to continue to improve my assessment strategies and improve my understanding of student diversity. I will continue to practice the strategies I have learned to help, and be respectful to the diverse learning styles of my students. In conclusion, I feel that I have learned so much in this short time I have been student teaching. I probably have learned almost the same amount of information in this short amount of time as I have in my entire college career. I am so thankful for this opportunity to learn to be the best educator I can possibly be. I pledge to myself to continue learning and developing myself into the best educator I can be. I know by continuing to learn, I can improve my skills and strategies. This will lead to a better educated me, and better educated students. I also hope I can bring to students what my teachers always brought to me, a love of the content knowledge and the desire to always continue to learn.