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|Date: December 9, 2016, 8.00 a.m. to 11 a.m.||Class Level: Kindergarten|
|Location: Starbrigde Elementary School||Instructor: Mrs. Patterson|
As we entered the class, the teacher greeted the children and introduced me to them. I greeted them and allowed the teacher to continue as I observed the lesson plan, student progress record and student attendance. In addition to records, I keenly observed the class and the teacher and took some notes. This paper presents a reflection of teaching and learning activities at the observed kindergarten class.
After the first lesson of recognizing and writing letters had been over, the teacher marked the questions given. The children were allowed to go out to have a rest and stretch. This five minutes break allowed me to interact with the teacher and ask about her philosophy in teaching, assessment and relationship with students. One of the things she emphasized was creating good environment for learning and ensuring children respect each other. She said that this is the best and simplest way to establish respect for the teacher and among students. Also, she said that making them understand the learning goals ensures high performance, and it is evident during assessment. Thus, she demonstrated clear understanding of the curriculum. Actually, she acted according to her teaching philosophy.
By reviewing the lesson plan, I made sure that everything done was clearly outlined in the lesson plan. For instance, the teacher integrated the knowledge from learning theories such as social constructivist and situational learning theories to instruct and manage the class. She clearly outlined to students what the learning goals were, thus, she created the environment of achieving such goals by connecting them to individual goals and expectations, for instance, when she was teaching the children writing sounds properly and being able to read them clearly.
Instructional Methods and Tools
She started by teaching children the letters, reviewing the previous material and starting to explain new material. This gave the children a chance to connect the yesterday’s lesson to new information learned today. Also, the teacher re-explained material from the class when she noticed learners had vague notions. Using the environment, for instance, balls, sticks and objects, she was able to assist them recognizing and writing letters well. Tools like pencils, colors, worksheets, boards and reading books played important roles in delivering the lesson. Teaching and learning is effective when educational planning is appropriate, and tools and methods are incorporated in the process, thus, providing high performance (Burden & Byrd, 2003).
Physically, the classroom was cool in temperature, of a good size to accommodate the number of student (15 students) and was well-managed in terms of sitting arrangement. There were charts about letters on the walls, numbers and creative works. Also, there were many pictures children collected from various sources like newspapers, family photos, and children birthdays among others. Students sat around a table and shared materials like books, letter shapes, and tools of instruction. I consider the classroom is designed to meet all learners’ needs, thus avoiding discrimination and meeting the needs of every individual (Young). Also, change of sitting positions exposes students to different environments, hence making it easy in transition from preschool to elementary (Miller & Cunningham, 2011).
The teacher managed the class well, for example, the first thing she does starting a morning class is to ensure every student is present. Also, she checks the sitting positions and makes necessary adjustments depending on the previous class behavior. This helps in creating good relationships among students and avoid cases of harassment. Also, the classroom rules, regulations and procedures were pinned on the classroom walls, and it seemed that every student knew and understood them since they behaved accordingly. For example, they never responded in chorus, instead they raised hands and waited to be asked. Respect for each other and to the teacher was evident since I never noticed any misbehavior among them like stepping on others feet or pinching, the children were concentrated on learning.
The children were motivated being appreciated by the rest of the class and receiving applause when he/she answers a question correctly. Also, they were encouraged to bring photos taken during birthdays, prize giving and other events. Their creative works made at home at and school are hanged on the walls for everyone to see. The teacher also motivated them by saying words such as “that is nice”, “good job, well done” also she de-motivated those engaged in bad behavior like whispering by saying “shame on you”, “good girls/boys don’t do that,” etc. Finally, the teacher encouraged student participation by engaging them through questions and answers and encouraged all students to participate by letting them to write on the board, appreciate others and point out where corrections should be made.
Assessment is necessary since it helps in identifying the strengths and needs of a child, thus helping in educational planning, for example, preparing tests and reviewing of the records (Gronlund, 2014). Learning is perceived to take place in the mind, thus it may not be seen until assessed. Mrs. Patterson assessed her students through asking questions and going around to mark and see what students were doing. Each student practiced writing on his/her own and the teacher advised accordingly. For example, the teacher monitored how each child grasped the pencil and the way of writing. At the end of reading class, they sung and recited poems about numbers and letters. Thus, the teacher assessed each child’s behavior and motor skills to ascertain the learning outcomes. Finally, the teacher asked the students to share what they learned and how they learned it at the end of every lesson. She picked two students, a boy and a girl, to explain what they have learned in one sentence. Consequently, achievement tests can help the teacher to measure whether knowledge has been acquired in reading, writing and even math (GreatSchools, 2015).
It was an insightful experience I got from observing the kindergarten class of Mrs. Patterson for three hours in the morning. I was able to connect many things we have learned such as teaching strategies and interventions and other pedagogical practices that a teacher incorporates in a class. The teacher also inspired me by her philosophy. I assisted her and the students to achieve teaching and learning goals and was able to manage it well. Class environment was conducive for learning, and students were aware of the rules and procedures and their participation in learning. Coordination, motivation and organization were well-planned and executed professionally. However, the needs of gifted children were not handled accordingly as the teacher wanted all students to learn something for that lesson and day. In general, students were excited to see me and demonstrated anxiety to learn and participate. I am grateful for this exercise since it has enriched my skills in teaching and class management.
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