Sharing The Room; Sharing The Teaching; Sharing The Learning

This year, I’ve really learned what it’s like to share a classroom, having sometimes one and sometimes two educational assistants as well as a couple of student teachers. Over the year, I’ve had many visiting teachers, visiting educational assistants, and regular visits from the principal and vice principal. I sometimes feel as though I always have eyes watching me, and this is something that’s taken me time to adjust to. Recently though, I’ve adjusted my perspective: I’m trying to see the “shared classroom” as ways for me to learn more.

First, there are the interactions with various educational assistants. While I plan for the students that they work with — writing a task analysis for each activity — I also email the plans to them and discuss my ideas with them. Then we make changes. We adjust the plans. We tweak the instructions. Sometimes we add more and sometimes we add less. Sharing ideas allows us to provide better, modified programming for these students that need it.

Then there are the interactions with different student teachers. Together we’re both able to collect assessment data, and then exchange thoughts and determine next steps. In the case today, when we spoke today about our Social Studies Election Speeches, we realized that some students are ready for peer feedback, and others need a guided group: to either further dissect the issues or assist with expanding ideas in their writing. We created a couple of different guided groups based on needs, and tomorrow, we’ll be ready to move forward with the students. Talking during our prep time today, I was able to reflect more on the election assignment itself. While the students are engaged by the activity, and it’s a meaningful one that connects with numerous Social Studies expectations, both Ashley (my student teacher) and I believe that we now have the assessment data we need when it comes to the speeches. Is it worth having days of presentations to present a “finished product,” but not provide us with any more meaningful assessment and evaluation data to determine next steps? Probably not! So we made a change in plans: we looked at how to have a class Debate/Challenge Game to focus on the issues, hear what all students know, and then move forward with the voting based on the ideas shared. The plan’s modified, but we can use this to find out more about student thinking and to help us as we move forward with solving government issues in the Bunch of Bills activity. If I didn’t have a student teacher, I may not have spent so long discussing assessment data, and making changes based on this data.

Finally, there are the visitors. I must admit that when people come in to visit, I can’t help but listen to their interactions with the students. This is my way of learning more. Today, my principal, vice principal, and superintendent all came for a quick walk through. As they were in the classroom, they sat down and talked to groups of students, and I tried to hear snippets of the different conversations. Here’s what this listening allowed me to do:

1) Help one group of students use GoogleDocs to break their speech into two parts, and both contribute sections to the final written piece: giving more student involvement in the writing, and more feedback from each other to improve the work itself.

2) Run a guided reading group on one of the issues about banking. Reading more together, helped clarify student understanding.

While I hope that I would have eventually done both of these things, sometimes it’s just watching and listening to others that allows you to respond more quickly to student needs.

So while my stomach may still do flip-flops when I feel eyes on me, I try to remember that these eyes are really on the students, and my learning through these varied interactions allow me to be a better teacher. I really have learned to love sharing a room and sharing the teaching and learning! What do you learn from working with other educators? How have these experiences made you better in your position? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


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