When I began my student teaching, I had a few goals in mind that I wanted my students to be able to accomplish. I wanted my students to be able to understand physics conceptually while also being able to solve certain problems to demonstrate their knowledge. Additionally, I wanted to be able to discuss several classroom management strategies for addressing potentially disruptive students. Throughout my time at Goochland I quickly began to address and adjust these goals as I spent more and more time with my students. My mentor teacher and I implemented a modeling instruction approach that focused on the conceptual aspect of physics education, which aligned with my goal of greater conceptual understanding. However, it quickly became apparent that the students did not have the math skills needed to solve the problems I wanted them to solve. Additionally, after running the class for a few weeks, I began to learn specific strategies for address potential disruptions through some trial and error. Looking at my experiences, my goals have shifted somewhat from where they were with I began. I will still focus on developing a deep conceptual understanding of what is occurring but I will not have a heavy a focus on students being able to solve certain problems due to potential deficiencies in math. Additionally, I will adjust my classroom management focus to dealing with students who have decided to actively disrupt the class.
Classroom Routines & Learning Environment
When I began my placement, I wasn’t completely sure as to what classroom routines I wanted to implement in my classroom. I had thought about some of the usual ideas such as implementing warm ups, maybe exit tickets, and other ideas for structuring the class. As for my learning environment, I wanted to create a space where students would feel comfortable to make mistakes and work together while driving their own learning. Once I began my placement, I quickly developed some effective routines as well as an idea for our learning environment. My mentor teacher utilized whiteboard warm ups to get the students prepared for the daily lesson so I began to incorporate those as well in order to review what was covered previously and activate any prior knowledge that might be necessary for that class. I did not decide to use exit tickets, instead I utilized group board meetings to facilitate a class wide discussion to summarize what was learned during the day. As for the learning environment, I found that using modeling instruction did exactly what I wanted in terms of student centered learning. By combining it with whiteboards, I saw students become more willing to attempt problems without worrying about making mistakes. Upon reflection, I have definitely picked up several items that will benefit me in the future. I have seen how utilizing a warm up and whiteboard summary can help begin and end class effectively while modeling instruction in general has greatly promoted a student centered atmosphere where mistakes are encouraged.
Inquiry Science Inclusion
When I began my placement, I knew that I wanted to organize my curriculum such that it was centered on scientific inquiry. I was encouraged from the beginning on my mentor teachers opinion on inquiry learning as her class was built upon student centered learning where students built their knowledge in the forms of scientific models. This was continued in my placement as we utilized modeling instruction to drive scientific inquiry and guide students to building their own models. Reflecting on my time here, I definitely am encouraged with the levels of inquiry that I saw in my classroom. I believe that I have gained a variety of tools that will assist me in promoting inquiry based learning in my classroom in the future.