The last few weeks have felt like a whirlwind. I really jumped into teaching on my first day with my mentor. Being in the elementary classroom felt so at home. I love the energy and enthusiasm the kids have--and am forced to combat few behavioral issues each day.
Upon teaching my first lesson, the pressure was really on. I came up with a flag design project in order to incorporate visual literacy and history standards into my lesson. The kids have little experience with fiber art, many unfamiliar with what the term even means so I wanted to explore this with them. Week 4 also was a change in schedule. Each group of kids has "specials" for three weeks at a time--so my first week teaching my new lesson was to a room of unfamiliar faces. However, this only motivated me more to learn their names quickly and acclimate to the new environment (including new technology, as that changes room to room as well).
The first class of that first day was honestly really chaotic. I have since learned that the way you break up the time is integral in the group's understanding of what tasks are to be completed and when. Not having much experience with this age group due to covid, I was unaware of just how much scaffolding is required throughout the hour long class. But, thankfully after my 4th grade class I quickly gathered myself back together, thought of a new plan, and changed the way I delivered the lesson to my 3rd graders immediately after. Instead of giving all of the information at the beginning, I split up the hour into three sections where I would "pause" the students once I felt they could move onto the next step. This worked exponentially better than how I delivered the lesson to 4th grade. Fortunately enough though, all of the students have been able to complete the project to the expectation I was hoping--only sacrificing a little of the ideation success in 4th due to my delivery causing a sense of redundancy in their planning.
I was so happy with how the week went in the end though and felt through my struggles I truly grew. I had a few moments of severe doubt and disappointment in myself to deliver the lesson the way I imagined in my head, but quickly regained my confidence to a new height. The kids loved sewing so much that they took their projects outside to recess even after class had ended. I heard remarks such as, "This is so satisfying!!" "I don't want to put it down...do we have to stop? I just want to finish this part!!" and on the last day my sweet 4th grader, Natalie raised her hand at the end of class and said, "Miss Polly, I just want to thank you for making a fun project for us to do. We've really had fun having you here". Success!!
For my art project this week, I created a flag along with my students. The imagery I chose to represent my identify was a plant. The stripe down the center is symbolic of the Colorado flag, yellow coming from the bright Colorado sun that peeks over the mountain out my window. The heart bead in the center symbolizes the importance of love, family and friendships in my daily life. I enjoy gardening and the rejuvenating smells of spring are beginning to float through the air once again. I also told my students I like to think like a plant! I am always growing, making myself bigger, stronger, and better... but this can only happen when I have a growth mindset and take care of myself, both mentally and physically. Being a teacher is taxing in many ways and can really bog down my self-esteem sometimes but just as I expect my students to have a growth mindset and be kind to themselves, eat, exercise, do things that make them happy, etc. I must take my own advice and do the same.
This blog thread is a synopsis of my experience student teaching during the final semester of my senior year, fulfilling the last service credit hours of my art education degree. I fulfilled the first eight weeks of my placement at Fossil Ridge High School, with Chelsea Ermer as my mentor. The final eight weeks of my placement were fulfilled at Coyote Ridge Elementary school, with Staci Sandelin as my mentor. I have completed a series of written reflections accompanied by physical art works which relate to the written portion of each post.