My student teacher, Lexi, has been in to observe me for 5 full school days. It has been a busy time, back from December break, fighting in all the goodness I can to get ready for last quizzes before midterms and the term break. I had her as a student in Geometry and a student in Advisory. It has been fun to have her around and I am hoping she picked up some good tips and ideas. I thought it would be fun to check in with some questions:
1.) What are 2 things you noticed about my teaching?
Lexi: Mrs. Fairbanks was focused on how the student got the answers, not just what they got for an answer. Mrs. F creates an environment where students can be confident and calls equally on students, allows them to ask questions until they understand and goes over the question by each step until the student really understands.
2.) What are 2 things you noticed about my classroom?
Lexi: I really liked the groups of desks because it promotes group work and peer tutoring. She is very organized and even has records of previous years. I love how the AppleTV can connect to the phone (when we played the Heads Up app.)
3.) What was the favorite thing you saw me do?
Lexi: Incorporating high-tech activities like Skype, Heads Up, and Desmos. My second favorite was the warm ups in Foundations of Algebra 1 (Estimation 180, Solve Me Puzzles, and Visual Patterns). She allows students to get up and use reasoning to figure out their estimation. The warm ups allow students to explain their thought process. This allows the teacher to see how they think.
4.) You saw me take some risks with 3 new tech ideas - Heads Up on my phone to review math vocabulary, creating a new Card Sort on Desmos instead of direct teaching factoring when a is not 1, and a Mystery Skype session with my class who is obsessed with circles to meet the World Record Holder for drawing the best circles. After you have been teaching for a while, do you think you will be willing to take risks?
Lexi: Heck yes! I already plan on trying to use these things in my future classes. It made me excited to find other websites and activities. I also like that the students get so excited to use these things too.
5.) I teach Accelerated Algebra 1, Accelerated Algebra 2, and small Foundations of Algebra I - what did you notice about my teaching at different levels?
Lexi: In all of them, you want to know how?
In Algebra 2, you were faster at giving them information but still checked in and made sure they reviewed the information.
In Algebra 1, you would check in more often, and there were more questions. Not because of unclear instruction, but because they wanted to know more.
In Foundations of Algebra 1, it's a tough class, but you were still able to give the information even though you were often disrupted because of student behavior. In this class, you do have to do more worksheets and take little to no notes, which she is good at. This class also required a lot of one-on-one and the way you teach it is very good for that because you are constantly walking around and checking in.
6.) You tell me you are unsure of what grade levels and math content you want to teach. Can you speak about your thoughts on this?
Lexi: I am indecisive because I really like all forms of math. Also, I haven't had much exposure to the high school setting since I have been out of school. I think I struggle with deciding because there are so many options - Algebra, Geometry, stats, calculus, and special ed. After this experience, I think I'm leaning towards HS algebra because of the multistep problems and the enthusiasm most of the students display.
7.) What would you like your own classroom to look like?
Lexi: I want to do groups of desks because it promotes helping each other. I want to incorporate both high and low tech activities. I want a positive environment where the students feel comfortable and confident asking questions and sharing ideas. I want to have different activities to get them active and out of their desks like vertical whiteboards. I want to have real world examples of how they can use the math they are being taught. I want to use a decent amount of group work to build teamwork skills because in almost every job you have to know how to work with others.
8.) Name 2 things you learned from your observation time.
Lexi: Planning ahead: Be prepared and organized. (An example if the technology for a powerpoint fails, just move on without it.)
Hold onto old lesson plans - learn from what worked and how much time it too. This will allow me to look for new activities based off of how well things went in the past. It will also allow me to focus on problem areas.
9.) Do you remember what #MTBoS stands for and will you be joining Twitter professionally?
Lexi: I am currently working on joining Twitter professionally. I think it is a great platform for ideas. I can share my experiences and it is also a way to find conferences.
10.) Any final thoughts?
Lexi: I really had a fun time seeing the different types of classes and seeing how you handled having the classes from level Foundations to Algebra 2. It was good to see the differences from middle school where I was observing before. I think it helped answer some questions I had. And, I am definitely leaning towards high school now. I also enjoyed being able to come back and see a teacher I had. It was awesome being able to see the dedication and the effort she you put into each lesson. Thank you!
Me: Thank Lexi. It was only 5 days, but it was great to teach you and share with you and learn from you. I'd say, "You're hired!"