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Monday, January 10, 2011

15 days later... Not ready to say goodbye

Wow! I can’t believe that my 15 days of student teaching has just come to an end. I wish that I didn’t have exams and could stay for a little while longer—I was just starting to really feel like I belonged as a part of the Northcote Primary community!

My last day was also my day of official observation by my supervisor from Melbourne Uni. She was scheduled to arrive and stay from 10-11 so I would have a while to get the students settled into their reading groups and activities before she arrived. The plan was that I would be teaching my Guided Reading group when she arrived so she would be able to see me doing a small group lesson and then she would watch as I brought everyone back to the rug and wrapped up literacy before moving into a writing activity. As usual, things didn’t go 100% as I expected but then again, I can’t complain because overall, the day was FANTASTIC!

When I arrived at school, I had my lesson plans ready to go and was feeling very confident and ready to be observed. I had been working on my lesson plans for hours the night before and I had created a whole matching game for my guided reading group and I thought I had two (one for small group and one for whole group) solid lesson plans to turn over to my supervisor. As soon as I walked in Linda told me that she was going to change my large group part of my lesson because they students had already done the activity she told me to prepare for. 15 days ago, if I had heard this, I would have freaked out and started to panic. Today, it really didn’t phase me—I asked Linda what she wanted me to do instead and then spent the 15 minutes before school started typing up a lesson plan to hand over to my supervisor. It was a great feeling to have the confidence in myself to be able to turn out a complete lesson plan in such a short amount of time =D

My supervisor also used to be the principal of Northcote Primary School and she hadn’t been back to visit in a while, nor had she seen the new classroom we were in! When she arrived, I was already working with my small group and she chatted with my CT for a few minutes and then sat down at a desk a little ways away from us to observe. I thought that she was going to come and join our group and to be honest, it was much less of a distraction to my students having her keep her distance. My group was very antsy so after having to tell different students to pay attention I stopped the group and told them that I was being observed by my own teacher and that I would really appreciate it if they would show my teacher that they were very well-behaved students. After that they were absolutely golden and they had a lot of fun playing the game I created! Fortunately, I knew that we wouldn’t make it through the whole book and had pre-planned that this was going to be a two-part small group guided reading lesson.

Before my supervisor came, my CT told me that the number one thing that she would be looking for would be my ability to stick to my schedule. This was at the front of my mind throughout the lesson, so I made sure to get the students back to the rug with plenty of time to discuss what each group did before moving on to writing. As usual, each guided reading group shared what they did with the other groups and we transitioned into our writing activity right on time!

The writing activity was a continuation of something they had already started (because my original activity had already been completed) but my supervisor called me out of the room to talk almost as soon as I got the students on their way with the activity. The two of us went into the teacher’s office to go over the forms she had to fill in and the report she received from my CT and to just chat about my lessons. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect so I had prepared as though I was going to a close-out meeting after a BC practicum and had all of my lesson plans and everything ready to show to my supervisor if she needed to see them. The meeting was much more relaxed than I expected but it went really well! My supervisor and my CT had very positive things to say and both told me that if I needed a reference for the future, especially if I ever came back to Australia, I should look them up!

Relieved that my formal observation was over, I was very giddy when I went back to the classroom! The students were getting ready for play recess and some of the girls had prepared a play for me—it was about Vampires (I’m wasn’t sure how to take that =P). Instead of going outside, we all gathered in the Hall area and the girls put on the play on the stage. Afterwards, the students presented me with a book they made for me—each one of them had written something and drawn a picture to go along with what they wrote! I almost started crying, it was one of the most touching presents I have ever received! I had made the class a card and had written my CT a letter, both of which I gave to them! I had put everyone’s names on the card and they had fun finding their own names and looking at what color I had drawn them.

During lunch my CT gave me some pictures of the class and of the ramps to bring home as souvenirs of the classroom! After lunch I walked around and said goodbye to the students, Dane and finally Linda. A few of the students started crying and I was given lots and lots of hugs! I had to leave early for a close-out student teacher meeting at Uni and I left Northcote with a very heavy heart!

The past 15 days have been the best practicum experience I have had thus far. I absolutely loved being at school for 15 days straight because it allowed me to really see what the students are like on a consistent basis. Going in one-day a week for 10-weeks just doesn’t give you that same sense of consistency.

My experience student teaching in Australia is definitely going to be something that stays with me for a lifetime. I have definitely been influenced by the Australian education system and I know that this experience will help shape me into the teacher I am going to become one day!

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