Today marked my very first day of teaching a real lesson to real students as a pre-service teacher. I have taught lessons to children and youth before, but this was different. I took a role that I have only theorized about, and overall, it went well. There were aspects of my lesson that I had anticipated for, but there were moments where I had to gage situations and act accordingly. For example, I had a short introduction to my topic, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, where I gave a quick overview on a powerpoint to the grade 7/8 students. They listened attentively and engaged in discussions and answered my questions. That was very rewarding and made my lesson flow and have a satisfying start. However, managing the classroom during my activity was a challenge that I plan to learn from.
The activity for my lesson was to put the students in 7 groups and have each group ponder/answer a question having to do with the Charter from a handout I gave each group. I laid out my expectations by saying they will be answering the questions together in their groups, each person should write their answer on their own paper (so everyone was doing something), and then I told them that each group will reading out their answers at the end (so every student was exposed to all the answers). Something I would have managed differently in this activity would be to plan the groups better, rather than just hand out 7 copies of the handout based on where the students were sitting, and have certain students that I knew need monitoring sit either in the front or with different classmates. At times, it was hard to make sure all students were on track and to mitigate the noise level.
A final element I would change about this lesson is the content of the questions. Although the goal of the lesson was to gain an overview of the subject (The Charter), it may have been a little more effective to have students answer in their own words in order to determine their actual comprehension of their answers. That being said, there were some responses that involved some critical thinking, and I was very impressed with the overall work the students put into their assignment. Something that I am having a hard time accepting is a teaching opportunity in my lesson I did not get to. Teaching about the Charter has ample opportunity to challenge some of the ways in which the Canadian government operates. I wish I would have thought about ways in how address some treaty education when talking about the rights and freedoms within the Canadian nation, but I concluded that students need to first learn that something like the Charter exist, then we can dissect and think critically about the implications. In subsequent lesson (definitely in my own future classroom) I would like to present a lesson on this type of thing.
Nevertheless, I left today feeling confident and grateful that I am in the profession I am. My experience in a classroom is challenging, exhilarating, and rewarding, and I know I have a long way to go and a lot more to learn, but so far, I am only gaining more and more excitement for my educational career. I look forward to teaching the boys about mental illness and ways of support next week!