Lauren Bisset

Ed. etc.

Category: Teaching reflections

Teaching Reflection #2

One day in a Grade 9 English class, I had a great conversation with a few students about their chosen books for silent reading. The teacher allows students an absolute free choice for their silent reading books, and a few students I was talking to were all reading Mockingjay, the third book in the Hunger Games book series. They were so happy to talk to me about their books: how they were liking it so far, how it compares to the other books in the series, how they thought it was going to end. We had a conversation about series books, and how by book 3 of a series it can often get “sketchy” and “cash-grabby.”

I was surprised how the students were so willing to talk to me about their books with such minimal prompting. The conversation was really genuine and I felt such a connection with the students as we shared the experience of having read the same book. I think that this kind of conversation may not have been possible if the teacher had not allowed them to pick their books, which is interesting to me as a hopefully future English teacher. They were so much more engaged in their learning and willing to share about it because it was a work that they were passionate about and that they had chosen with their own agency. I think that moving forward I will definitely understand the value of student choice whenever possible and practical in my classroom. In addition, I was reminded how valuable these little conversations are with students to building relationships and connections, and how easy it is to talk to them about things that they’re interested in.

First teaching reflection

The other day, I was observing an English 11 Prep class that had just been given a poem to analyse and a worksheet to fill out with their analysis. While walking around trying to help, I noticed a table comprised of mostly international students that hadn’t written anything on their sheets yet. I asked if they had read the poem yet and one girl said she was trying but it was difficult to understand the English. She seemed really distressed that they were supposed to be looking deeper into a relatively long poem when she couldn’t even really get a grasp on what the language was saying. So, we started to read the poem together, line by line, and I helped her break it up so she could understand the poem more. Two other girls listened in, and we were able to make some sense of the poem together, get them more comfortable with it and start to think about the worksheet. They thanked me when the bell went, and seemed calmer.

It was a really rewarding moment for me, as it was one of the first times I felt I could be truly helpful to a student. The experience also really opened my eyes to how diverse the needs can be in the classroom as well. Although the class is meant for learners that may need a little more time learning English, these girls were struggling so much more than the other students. Tasks that we take for granted as being relatively straightforward can be so much more difficult and sometimes anxiety-inducing for ELL students. Moving forward from this experience, I will definitely give more thought about how lessons may be difficult for ELL students and how I can alleviate some of that difficulty.

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