WHAT?: Today I had my “cognitive coaching session” with my TA partner, Scott and professor, Dr. Hasenbank. We discussed our goals for the semester and how we will achieve these goals in the classroom. My two main goals are: 1) Increase student engagement through the use of interactive lessons, and 2) Relate activities to the students’ lives, which involves building relationships with the students.
SO WHAT?: Why does any of this matter? For me, it matters because I truly want to make a difference in these learners’ lives. I want to be the teacher they look back on and say, “Oh yeah, Miss. Rickard. She really cared about us and took time to get to know us as people–not just students. Her class always had us on our toes.” We’ve all had those teachers who looked at their job as, well, just that: a job. They had little personal investment in the lives of their students, and it wasn’t hard to see that. For some students, I may be the only person who cares in their lives, or who takes the time to talk to them. I don’t know what my students bring with them when they walk through my classroom door, but when they leave, I want each of them to know that they matter to me. And I believe in them. That’s why it’s so important to me to find the most engaging, powerful and interactive lessons I can for my students. That’s how I can show them I care.
NOW WHAT?: So how will I go about creating this classroom environment and fulfilling my lesson goals? And how will I know whether or not my efforts are paying off? It’s not difficult to tell whether students are motivated and excited about a project–they ask questions, persist through problems, help one another and collaborate in order to accomplish their goal. I want to put structure into my students’ lives so that they know what to expect (relatively speaking) when they walk through the door. A “bellringer” when they first walk in, then brief instructions for the activity of the day, and finally an “exit slip” to end. This ensures that they’re engaged from the beginning to the end of class. I am also a firm believer in the power of choice. If I can find a variety of lessons/activities which all lead to a common goal or concept, why not let the students choose whichever one appeals most to them? That way, they’ll (hopefully) be more motivated to finish what they’ve started. Finding activities which relate to their interests can be the difference in a student wanting to learn and one refusing to learn. It’s now my job to start researching and discovering what’s out there for my students. I can’t wait!
Overall, this coaching session was incredibly valuable to me as a future educator. I’ve got all of my ideas down on a piece of paper (thanks to my partner!), and I know what I need to do next. Having my goals written down somewhere with a rough sketch of how they can be reached makes them seem attainable for me, which is another strategy I can use with my own students. Oh the things I’m beginning to learn… 🙂