Overall, I really enjoyed my time at HB. I was thankful to get to know the teachers and I learned a lot. I was able to see a lot of good qualities in each teacher I observed including many of the ones we discussed in class. Many of them were passionate about the subject they were teaching. I could tell that they wanted to be there and cared about their students. I remember as I was leaving one day I overheard a conversation one girl was having with her teacher about how her grandfather had passed away. He was more concerned about how she was then he was about her making up the material she missed. He was very flexible with her catching up on all her work. This to me showed one of the best qualities in teachers and that is how its important to care for them and not always be so worried about the school work all the time. My time at HB also showed me that teaching can come with many unexpected situations and that I will need to be prepared for anything. I also learned that I am going to have to figure out which way I want to teach my students. I will have to see what works best for them and what way they benefit most from. I also learned that I will need to spend more time than I originally thought planning lessons and organizing things for class. At HB I was able to see how every teacher is different, but can still be a great teacher. I was able to observe many different teachers and their different styles of teaching. I was also able to see different ways to engage students in the learning. I definitely feel that my time at HB allowed me to confirm that I want to get my teaching license in AYA and teach math. I am so glad I was able to spend the time I did at HB and thankful for all that I was able to learn from my observations while I was there.
Sunday, December 6, 2015
During my last visit to HB I sat in a Pre-Calculus class. The first part of class they took notes. The teacher used the smart board and for certain parts of the lesson some girls went up to the board and did problems on it. Then they went over a test from the day before. They could ask the teacher about certain problems they had issues with on the test. After they went over the test they also went over their homework from the night before. The teacher had a few girls write the solutions to the problems on the board and then they went over them as a class. I really liked how the teacher allowed the girls to do have so much interaction as opposed to just sitting at their tables and writing down the material. I think that them going up to the board really helps in learning the new topics. This class was again a smaller class with only about 10 people. I think because it was smaller they were able to spend more time individually with the teacher and he was able to help them with what they were struggling with learning personally. Him being able to help them like this I think is good and shows the benefits of having small classes. Had the class been large, I feel that it would be difficult for him to go around and help each student with what they were struggling on with the lesson. The second class I sat in was a Freshman Algebra class. The teacher was Mrs. Walsh and I had sat in on one of her classes before. I really liked her and the students seemed to as well. The entire time she was very calm. One interesting thing about this particular class was that they had interactive workbooks that came with the text books. They took their notes in these work books and did their homework in them. I had never seen something like this so I found it very interesting. I thought that it was a good idea and helped them keep all their math material together. When they were doing their homework it probably was convenient to be able to flip back quickly to their notes if they got stuck on a problem or needed to be reminded of the lesson. Their homework for that night was to make flashcards with the equations they needed to know on them. I liked that their assigned homework was to make flashcards because often times they can be very helpful in learning. I liked this because they were forced to make them at the beginning of the chapter and then when they went to study for their test they would have already made them. Them making flashcards is also a convenient way for them to study quickly if they only have 10-15 minutes, they would still be able to run through them.
During my fourth visit to HB the first class I sat in was an Algebra 2 class. They had a quiz that ended up taking about half the period and the other time in class was spent on learning the new lesson. The teacher gave them the choice at the beginning of class if they wanted to take the quiz first or learn the new lesson first. They ended up taking the quiz at the end of class. During the first half of class while they were learning new material, the smart board that they normally use for lectures stopped working. The teacher quickly switched the using the white board to teach. When he didn’t get flustered at the smart board not working, I was impressed. I saw that teaching does not always go as planned, and that teachers need to be prepared for the unexpected. I am going to need to be prepared to quickly react to problems I didn’t expect to happen in the classroom. At the end of class he told the class that their homework was 3.6 A and B. He had given them a chapter syllabus with all the homework problems they needed to do listed. They didn't have to worry about writing down every problem they had to do because the teacher was organized and prepared. This made me think back to when I was in high school and how I always preferred the teachers that were organized. I always was more inclined to work harder in classes where it was evident that the teacher was working hard as well. If the teacher was organized and it was clear, I knew they were putting in effort to my education and that therefore it would be worth it for me to put in effort as well. The second class I observed was Calculus. They were given a note sheet to follow along with and fill out as the teacher lectured. I know that some people think it's better for students to completely take their own notes but the students seemed to really enjoy having the notes sheets and even said they preferred it to other classes and ways of taking notes. Having the notes sheets I noticed helped them stay on topic. The students could follow along with the material and I really think that it helped them learn it better. Seeing how the teachers taught differently showed me that I am going to have to choose how exactly I think my students will be able to learn the best based on how I present the material.
During my third visit, the first class I observed was a Calculus class. I was glad to be able to observe this class because I am in calculus right now so it was fun to know what they were learning. I was even able to help the girls with a worksheet they were working on in class. They were working on related rate problems which is one topic that I really enjoy in calculus. Knowing how excited I got to simply help them with a few problems on a worksheet, confirmed that I wanted to teach math. The second half of the class period, they were reviewing for their test the next day. They could work on practice problems independently or in groups, they could also ask the teacher questions they had. They were allowed to use a 3x5 notecard on the test the next day with equations and whatever they wanted on it to help them on the test. I liked this in high school when I had harder test in more difficult classes so I really liked that this teacher acknowledged that this was a more difficult class and that sometimes a notecard was necessary for the girls to use on the test. The second class I observed that day was again the Statistics/Pre-Calculus course. They were learning trig identities, another topic that I find very interesting. The teacher had them do problems and then some could come up and write them on the board. They then went over the problems as a class so those who didn’t know how to do them originally would know how to do them. I have always enjoyed when the teacher allowed us to write on the board and do other interactive things to help keep the learning environment energized as opposed to just sitting and taking notes at a desk. This visit has probably been my favorite so far because I realized that being excited about the material I plan on teaching, the better a teacher I will be able to be.
For my second visit to HB I sat in the Statistics/Pre-Calculus class for the second time. They were doing transformations of graphs, one of my favorite lessons in math. The teacher had a really interesting activity where the girls had to transform a standard graph to one that matched the curve of a water fountain. They took turns going up to the smart board and doing this with a graphing program through the smart board. They seemed to really enjoy it and I thought this was a good way to visually teach the lesson and use technology in the classroom. I found this After they did this as an intro to the lesson they worked with notes sheets that were provided by the teacher. I remembered from my high school experience that I did better in classes that had note sheets provided by the teacher that we filled out as class progressed because it clarified what we needed to know. The teacher had a copy to give to me which I found very helpful because I was able to see how he went about teaching the lesson. The next class I went to was an Algebra 2 Honors class. This teacher taught using the Smart Board and what looked to be a PowerPoint presentation. I could only begin to imagine the planning for each lesson he had to do for each class. One observation I had was that all the students had the TI-Nspire calculator. I thought it was good that they all had the same one as the teacher so there was no confusion when they had to do certain parts of the problems on their calculators. This teacher taught much differently than the one in the previous class. This teachers way of teaching included more discussion amongst the class and rather than just writing the problem down and solving it, he asked the class how each problem should be solved. I thought this was really good because the girls weren't just writing what he was saying, but they were talking about it. I think learning through discussion is one of the best ways to learn so I liked that the teacher was able to do that, especially with math, which can often times be difficult.
The first class I observed was a Statistics/Pre-Calculus class. I noticed that the class was particularly small and only had about 10 girls in it. Because it was my first class at HB I just assumed that maybe this one class was that small. The particular classroom this class met in was set up differently than how many people would view the typical high school classroom. It had about six tables that were hexagon shaped as opposed to just rows of desks. I really liked that the classroom was set up this way. The students were able to easily work together in groups on assignments and work on the problems together rather than struggling to complete them independently. I noticed that the classroom had a smart board and that it was used for the entire class. The teacher had prepared the notes presentation to work with the smart board. To me this showed that he was organized and prepared for class, a quality that I think is important in order to make a teacher the best they can be. The second class that I went to was an Algebra 2 class. It had 17 student's which was larger than the previous but it was still on the smaller end of class sizes. It was in a different room with a different teacher. I noticed that this room was set up with the desks in row but they were pushed together so the students were sitting with each other and not alone. I noticed that this class was very different than the previous. The girls tended to get off topic easily but I saw that the teacher was patient and quickly brought their focus back to the material. I noticed that this teacher also used the smart board to teach the lesson. He also had an agenda/outline for the students so they knew the homework ahead of time and when the quizzes and test would be. This to me was very impressive. As I sat in the class I realized how much planning must go into each lesson. Not only does the teacher need to be prepared to teach the material, but they also need to be prepared to explain it in many different ways because each student learns differently.
When I was first placed at Hathaway Brown for my independent observations I was very excited. Because I attended a private all girls high school, I knew it would have many similarities and that it would remind me of home. I was looking forward to my observations very much and went into them with an open mind. When I first arrived at HB I was surprised by how large the building was. Their entire property was very nice and as soon as I walked through the door I felt welcome, something that I think is an important quality of schools. One thing I noticed about the girls in the Upper School was that they did not wear uniforms, something I found very interesting for a private school. For my observations I was going to be working with the head of the math department, Michael Buescher. During the weeks that I spent at HB, I observed some of his classes, but was also able to observe many other teachers in the math department and many different classes within the department. Being able to observe many different teachers and view many different teaching styles was very helpful and I was able to learn a lot from it.