Today, Dr. Petrosino gave back the mid-term exams and collected the "Meter-Stick" unit planning activity. But the main part of class was a presentation by Ms. Emily Schroeder. Ms. Schroeder is a former NASA engineer, UT graduate, and currently a teacher at LBJ High School in Austin, TX. She spoke to each section of PBI today. A quick summary of the high points of her talk:
1. Grouping/Managing: Emily talked about how group dynamics can make or break a project, and how a big part of your role as a PBI teacher is managing groups. This is SO true!
Given that you do not know these students well, here are a few questions you could ask your mentor teachers:
-Are the students already in groups, or should we put them in groups?
-Are there students who we definitely should NOT put together in a group?
-Can you assist us in forming groups for the students? What methods could we use?
-How do you decide how to divide your time between groups?
-How do you keep your students on task in their groups?
You should take advantage of the expertise your mentor teachers can provide in getting insight into this process.
2. Transparency. We have talked in class about how many teachers (especially new teachers) seem to feel the need to keep the plan a secret. This is not necessary! Let your students know what you are planning to do and why you are doing it. This could (and should!) take the form of objectives for the day and an agenda that you display and share with the students.
Similarly, do not feel like everything has to go perfectly in order for learning to occur. You will make thousands of mistakes as a teacher, especially as a new teacher. Let’s say for example that a lab you have planned does not work or turn out as expected. This is NOT a reason to get frustrated, nor is it something you have to hide from your students. Use this as a learning opportunity. Talk about what was supposed to happen, and hypothesize with the class about why it didn’t. Students appreciate honesty.
3. Relationships and Joy. How many times yesterday did Emily say she loves her job? This shows and I promise you that her students know it. You are presumably going into teaching because you enjoy it- make sure this comes across in the classroom!!! Be a math nerd, be a science nerd, show the students how much you like the material and how happy you are to be there and they will respond to you.
Be aware that students will have many different responses to your presence in the classroom. Some will be very curious; some may shut down. Take time to introduce yourselves and have some individual conversations with students (as time allows- not at the expense of instructional time). You will be surprised how far it goes with students if you greet them with a smile, indicate an interest in something about them, or even just let them know you like something they’ve done.