Teaching Reflection – Undergraduate
I’ve included the three student emails above because they represent several of my personal goals as a teacher. Pat’s observation that my actions matched my words means a great deal to me, as does Katie’s continued passion to be a special educator and Sam’s description of me as a “huge welcoming” teacher! These are also particularly meaningful to me as I had not taught undergrad students previously and figuring out what prior knowledge they brought with them, how much content to provide, at what pace….were all new issues.
These also represent the students who enjoyed FSA 210. There were some students in the afternoon section that I’m not certain would write glowing emails(!) My two sections of FSA 210 were very different, despite my attempts to provide the same experience to both. The morning group was enthusiastic, energetic, and we formed the type of inclusive community I was teaching about. The afternoon section had some extraordinary students but also had a group dynamic that I found puzzling and hard to change.
It was as though an invisible line ran down the middle of the room despite my attempts to bring us together. The students on one side of the room were primarily (though not totally) transfers while the students on the left were primarily female students who retained their separate sorority social groups in the class. I wrestled all semester with how much to push integration and how much to allow them to be as they were. We conducted community-building activities, sometimes I allowed them to choose partners & groups and sometimes I assigned them. I never felt that the climate changed significantly. I approached two of the vocal students privately (separately), and asked for their suggestions (as future teachers) on making class welcoming for all. I approached two of the very quiet students privately (separately) and asked if there was something I could do to make class more welcoming for them. One said “nothing” and assured me that she would participate more. I replied that I wasn’t trying to change her personality but to understand if class was working for her. After our talk she began to participate, which was wonderful because her insight and intellect was a real asset, while the other student replied that she was fine and continued to sit silently. What perplexed me (and still does) about this group was how much to seek their engagement vs. how much to let them be and focus on content, as well as how to help them see the strengths in each other because I’m not convinced that they could. Is that too much to expect from every class?
Things I plan to change when I teach FSA 210 again:
- Change the text, Peterson & Hittie was too dense and a little outdated,
- Be very specific about plagerism on the first day and repeat it with examples periodically,
- Schedule small group meetings ½ way through the semester to check in about how students are experiencing the class.
- The word “organized” came up on my CTEs and I agree, I plan to have a system where they can see their grades/assignments easily and ahead of time.
- The PDS relationships with Parker and Barry Elementary Schools, were just forming, I’ll spend more class time having them talk about their field placement experiences.