Another posting of an observation summary I wrote over the summer while starting my teacher education program.
Observation Summary #2
This week, students enjoyed the group work activities in the class much more so than last week. Nonetheless, students remain challenged with staying “on task” during group work. They typically completed the assigned task before going off task and they seemed to be adhering to class norms, in general. It was difficult for me to assess whether each student is improving, staying the same or receding in math skills in the group work environment since it is a fairly chaotic environment and checkpoint scores are not recorded in any consolidated location.
Some days provided phenomenal observations and others were not as rich, however they still offered opportunities to watch, reflect and learn. This was especially helpful since I am very interested in how best to teach math and how to use multiple methods like direct instruction, group work, open-ended problems, student direct instruction, guided whole class discussions, etc.
Students experienced rich learning where they used whatever procedure they were comfortable with (whether from memorization or prior direct instruction or prior open learning) to solve problems, build their confidence and help others see that there are multiple methods to follow in solving math problems. I reinforced this throughout the week.
I also observed something powerful and important to understand regarding adolescent behavior and thinking. I learned that I jumped too quickly to one interpretation before I had all the facts. Since the potential for trouble seemed high though, I wanted to err on the side of caution. Everything turned out fine, with the student explaining the context for his behavior in such a way that satisfied me that there was no issue.
Lastly, I presented information about myself to the students. I decided to show three things: 1) a map of all the locations I’ve lived in the US, which is greater than 30 different addresses, 2) a list of all the concerts I’ve attended with a couple of graphics depicting certain aspects of this data and 3) a slide showing which colleges I’ve attended. Students seemed to like that I shared these details with them; they showed the most enthusiasm for the concerts I attended.