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Marisa Renee Brown

Middle School Experience: Preston Middle School


            During my time at Preston Middle School, I was able to promptly complete thorough and comprehensive lesson plans. I wrote abbreviated lesson plans that included objectives, enduring understandings, procedures, materials, resources, and assessment for the shorter assignments I began to teach at the start of the placement. Towards the end, when I was teaching entire lessons, I planned for my teaching by writing complete lesson plans in the art education template. Because I put so much effort into planning, I was able to come up with creative lessons that utilized best practices.

            Another success I found at Preston was in classroom management. Most of this success stemmed from the relationships I was able to build with students. By building these relationships I was able to create lessons that sparked student interests and passions. These two factors increased student engagement during my teaching. Finally, after learning from my mistakes with assessing students, I was able to make the objectives and assessments clearer for them. This also aided in classroom management by providing explicit instructions to keep students on task.

            A final aspect of student teaching I was successful with was utilizing technology in my lessons. I incorporated SMART technology on a daily basis by using it to show learning targets and inquiry questions. I also utilized technology as a motivational tool (with interactive activities), a tool for teaching vocabulary and art history, and as a self-directed research tool. By having students direct their own earth art research in Digital Photography, the technology integration was more authentic and reflective. This opportunity gave my Photography students a chance to practice transferable skills related to research.

           I learned so much from my cooperating teacher and my students during my quarter at Preston Middle School. I learned that, when planning, it helps to be as thorough as possible. By planning out small things like introductions, conclusions, and transitions the lesson progresses much more smoothly and intentionally. I also learned that planning for choice allows students to be engaged and motivated by the art processes at hand. Additionally, I learned that planning for differentiation is far more effective when you know your students strengths and pitfalls. By building relationships and reviewing relevant paperwork (504s and IEPs), portions of the lesson can be differentiated purposefully for students.

            Another thing I learned a lot about was classroom management. I learned that seating and grouping students can make a huge difference in classroom dynamics and relationships. Although it’s not a solution to all classroom management problems, arranging student seating and collaboration can mitigate petty classroom issues and improve classroom community. If students prove their abilities to collaborate well with one another, they may choose their seats and partners. This gives students ownership of the space and their creative process.

Finally, I learned that setting high expectations and clear objectives is essential to successful classroom management. If students are unsure of the steps in a process, they are more likely to find themselves off task. By providing clear expectations and guidelines, students have the tools to stay on task and be productive. Ultimately, providing explicit expectations makes assessment and classroom management easier on the teacher.

If I could re-teach my lessons at Preston Middle School, I would like to do classroom management differently. I would set up more classroom norms to keep students in routines. I would set up classroom systems that make introductions, transitions, and work-time more efficient and successful. I would like to have a class theme that the students choose. From there, I would adjust my formative assessments and methods for getting students’ attention to match their chosen them. This would build class community, establish routine, and ease management issues. I would also like to build grouping around these themes as well.

I would also like to incorporate cross-curricular collaboration in order to emphasize the ability of art skills to transfer to other disciplines. This would also give students a chance to collaborate with students they might not get to otherwise. Another thing I would do differently is to model my classroom routines and lesson progression after the artistic process. By doing so, I could instill the importance of sequence and building understanding in art-making.

            Finally, I would like to model my instruction more thoughtfully after my teaching philosophy. One way to do this is by modeling my lessons after the art-making process. Another way is to make assessment as transparent and clear as possible. A third way to make my instruction match my teaching philosophy is to emphasize big transferable ideas. I can do this by clearly communicating enduring understandings to students. Enduring understandings can be incorporated into my teaching by engraining them objectives, learning targets, and inquiry questions. Additionally, I can build activities that emphasize these essential understandings.

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