So, a week late, I walked into the classroom for the first day. Everyone else had a clear head start but the teacher I was placed in had a field trip planned for the first day that my partner and I were scheduled to be in the classroom. I was relieved to finally meet my partner and cooperating teacher. This teacher seems very committed to social justice in her classroom as there were many posters with sayings like “include don’t disclude”. This classroom doesn’t use a whole lot of technology but they are allowed their cell phones in class. The students enjoyed our introduction. Classroom management was an issue because they are a chatty bunch. The co-op teacher suggested that we wander around instead of standing at the front of the classroom because that will help keep them quiet but also that we used some good cues and prompts to get them to settle down. She also said that giving examples was a good idea and something that we did well. I think I will use some discussion based activities but I will have to be careful to keep this under control (although it was indoor recess so that could be a huge source for their energy).
After our short introduction game of two truths and a lie, there was a woman who came in to speak about a child with autism in the classroom. This was a great learning experience for me because the she talked about the different aspects of autism – a disability that I haven’t had much contact with. I found it strange that they pulled this particular child out of the classroom for the presentation until I found out that they did this so that the students would feel comfortable asking questions about this child. I learned so much from this presentation and many ideas that I can take into my own classroom. For example they did an activity where they had to do a dot-to-dot but by only looking in a mirror. This was an example of how every activity is a little more challenging for people with autism because they have trouble with sensory processing, communication and socialization. I also learned about perseveration and delay processing and tactics to help with that. The presenter used a great example of going to another planet where you don’t know the language or different gestures and social cues. She had one girl make a zognor out of blocks where the girl didn’t know what it looked like. The students and presenter used different tactics to help this girl understand how to make one but because she couldn’t see the picture she didn’t know how to make one. For me this was the most beneficial experience of the day.
After recess, there was a prep time until the end of the day so this was a great time to touch base with the teacher. There will be some challenging students in this classroom but this allows for lots of improvement in adaptive dimension. The teacher is very chatty and sweet. I almost forgot how rewarding it is to have a relationship with the students because it certainly isn’t the same in university. For some of my targets I think I will be needing to work on using adaptive dimension, classroom management skills (walking in between rows, finding a signal to keep them quiet when other students are talking, etc.) and finding alternatives for when students finish work.
The time we have with this teacher is going to be interesting as we will have to teach Phys. Ed. more than once and I’m not sure what kind of lessons we will be teaching because we had made a plan but now that I look at the schedule there may be more gym days than we had originally planned so in terms of our lessons the plan may change. I’m very excited to be jumping into this and I hope it goes well.