Entry #6B – Professional Development Journal Response
i) Now that my three-week block is complete I can reflect back on my initial responses to the three big questions that were asked in blog entry #6A. As I read through my responses to the first two questions most of what I said initially has not changed. Field experiences most definitely play a role in preparing education students to become teachers. Pre-internship provided direct experiences that helped to increase my confidence, teaching strategies, and classroom management. Without these field experiences, I would struggle to apply the skills necessary for facilitating learning. In addition, what I said concerning University Teacher Education Programs has also not changed. The emphasis continues to be on methods and pedagogy, giving pre-service teachers the opportunity to learn, study and familiarize themselves with the educational necessities such as the curriculum and professional rights and responsibilities of teachers. I stated it in my last response and I will repeat it here. Lectures only do and provide so much for pre-service teachers. The real learning is when we are out in the field.
As I read my response to the third question, I realize that most of what I said initially has not changed; however, if I was to respond to the question again now, being that my pre-internship is over, my response would change slightly. First off, having been in front of the classroom for three weeks, I realized that the most effective form of instruction is a combination of both teacher and student centred instruction (not one or the other). My students outwardly expressed that they learn best when we go through the notes together as a class (teacher centred). To get some of the students involved, I would constantly ask essential questions to heighten the learning; however, there was many instances where my students would volunteer themselves to come up to the board to teach a particular question or concept (student centred). Furthermore, I did have a conversation with some students on inquiry based learning, and they all expressed to me that they would “absolutely hate it” as most of them would have no idea where to start, let alone do the activities. That being said, I now find that teacher centred instruction mixed with student centred instruction is in some ways the most beneficial for both parties. It is what everyone is comfortable with. Another idea that has somewhat changed for me after pre-internship concerns memorization. Yes, instruction should partly no longer be about memorization, but knowing the steps and what to do within a particular question is sometimes the most effective for students. Throughout these three weeks I have fortunately established positive teacher-student relationships with my students. That being said, I would ask them questions about their learning of mathematics, and most if not all of my students expressed that they need the steps to help them with the questions. They fully understand the concepts, but if they didn’t know the steps beforehand they would be completely lost. So should math no longer be about steps? I don’t exactly know anymore. Before pre-internship I would have said no, but now I am not so sure as students seem to succeed more when the teacher goes through the steps with them, providing them with the opportunity to of course practice.
On the plus side, much of what I said prior to pre-internship has further developed. For instance, I strongly believe now that math is a fundamental area of study that can be applied to any field. Many of my students have told me that they want to go on to be pharmacists, doctors, carpenters, and/or physio/massage therapists, and they are all completely aware that they need math to help them get there. In addition, prior to pre-internship I stated that presenting content with integrity and honesty holds value, as the course content then becomes more relevant and useful not only for the present but for the students future lives. This idea has definitely developed further as I know see the connection between positivity, authenticity, and mathematics. The more authentic and interesting the instruction, the more likely that students are going to remember the content.
ii) This quote raises some very interesting points, most of which I have either seen or experienced while in teacher education. First off, Freese states that pre-service teachers are “students at the same time that they are learning to be teachers” (2006). Being a pre-service teacher myself, I can verify that this is a difficult position to be put in. While we are in out in the field, we must always remember to be in the mindset of a professional teacher. This is difficult to say the least, as when we are placed back into our regular education classes at the University, we must return to the student mindset, focusing on grades and discerning applicable information.
Freese also declares that pre-service teachers need to “assume personal responsibility for their actions and performance and not blame the students or others for their problems” (2006). For me, this was partly obvious. I mean as teachers we should know not to blame others, such as students, parents or colleagues, for our problems. As professionals and adults, we are expected to take responsibility for our own actions. However, this statement can be partly problematic as well. If students are not working, being uncooperative and unwilling to learn, then some of the blame can be put on the students. As Freese said, learners must be willing to learn (2006).
Lastly, Freese declares that pre-service teachers must be open to learning and seeing multiple perspectives. This statement has the potential to be challenging as many pre-service teachers do not have a general teaching perspective to start from, such as myself. Throughout my teacher education, I have definitely seen multiple perspectives and ways of teaching, as exemplified from my own professors. However, to be honest, I was not as open to these perspectives simply because I did not know what to expect from them if and when they are applied to the real world and I was resistance to change. I like routine, thus, I need to be comfortable with one way of doing something or anything for a long time before taking up or adopting a new one. Nevertheless, being open to new ideas and perspectives of teaching is a way to correct, or in some instances improve, the problems in your current teaching practice. That being said, all teachers need to be open to change.