A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Without a plan for success, goals are surely to be missed. I am going to focus my energy on reaching my goals for this semester and for who I want to be as a teacher. My goals for the semester are:
1. Being flexible in lesson planning and implementation.
2. Successfully implement group work and hands-on activities within my math classes that build students’ knowledge and keep them engaged.
3. Develop my classroom management skills and confidence as a teacher.
The 2nd goal is one that I really want to focus on as I try new things and learn what is successful and what is not. To be successful in this, I want to create a classroom in which group work and hands-on activities are the norm. In order for this to work, groups need to be productive, meaning that every member of the group is engaged, paying attention to the work at hand, on task, and actually gaining an understanding from the material. The ideal group would have members who contribute equally, who teach each other, who (productively) argue and defend their findings, who can all answer questions about the material, and who help each other stay on task. In these situations with group would, the teacher’s role is to maintain a free environment, where students feel comfortable asking questions, even if they make mistakes. They should be able to be wrong and still see the importance of making mistakes, because without them, no one would ever learn anything. The teacher should be monitoring progress, ensuring everyone is on task. They should be asking questions to everyone to make sure that all students are understanding the material and gaining something from the group work. In this situation, the teacher and students would work together to discover learning and develop understanding.
Now what? Throughout the semester, I will monitor my progress, my successes and failures, with group work and hands-on activities. I want to try as much as possible while a TA so I can have an understanding of what to do and not do in the future. I think that creating an environment where students feel that they are able to ask questions, be wrong, and work on hands-on activities will be really beneficial for my students. The environment in my classroom is not quite there, so I want to develop this as I move forward. I want my students to really “get” math and have fun while they do it. I think that hands-on activities and group work are the perfect way to get there.